Metamorpho #1 (1993)
Art by Graham Nolan.
|First appearance||The Brave and the Bold #57 (January 1965)|
|Created by||Bob Haney
|Alter ego||Rex Mason|
Seven Soldiers of Victory
|Notable aliases||The Element Man, Dyna-Man|
|Abilities||Transmutation into a wide variety of elemental compounds, Nigh Invunerability|
Metamorpho (real name Rex Mason, also called The Element Man) is a fictional character, a superhero in the DC Comics Universe. He is a founding member of the Outsiders, and has also joined multiple incarnations of the Justice League.
- 1 Publication history
- 2 Fictional character biography
- 3 Powers and abilities
- 4 Enemies
- 5 Other versions
- 6 In other media
- 7 References
- 8 External links
Metamorpho's creator, Bob Haney, had seen success with DC Comics in 1963 with the titles Metal Men and Doom Patrol, featuring bands of superheroes exhibiting fantastic powers. Under the editorial management of George Kashdan, Haney was asked to capitalize on these titles' popularity with a similar character. Metamorpho, the Element Man, debuted in The Brave and the Bold #57 (January 1965).
As first conceived, Metamorpho was a parody of the fantastic characters that populated comic books in the 1960s. Artist Ramona Fradon was coaxed out of maternity retirement to illustrate Metamorpho's first appearances. The popularity of Metamorpho's appearances in The Brave and the Bold led to a 17-issue ongoing series between 1965 and 1968. Metamorpho also appeared during this time in two issues of Justice League of America (#42 & #44) and became the second superhero to decline an invitation to join that organization (Adam Strange being the first), though he did become a reservist, eventually being called in during a Justice League/Justice Society crossover to help find and rescue the Seven Soldiers of Victory.
Metamorpho appears on the cover of Aquaman #30 as one of the pallbearers (along with Batman, Hawkman, and Superman) at the "Sea King's Funeral". Metamorpho also appears in a series of backup stories in Action Comics #413-418 and World's Finest Comics #218-220 and #229.
In 1975, Metamorpho appears in 1st Issue Special #3, a brief series consisting of one-shots of new and established DC comics characters. That issue was written by Bob Haney and illustrated by Ramona Fradon, Metamorpho's original creators.
After becoming a charter member of the Outsiders in 1983, and member of the European branch of the Justice League International, Metamorpho received his own 4-issue mini-series in 1993.
In 2005, DC Comics reprinted Metamorpho's early The Brave and the Bold appearances and the entirety of the 1965 series as one of the company's volumes of Showcase Presents.
Fictional character biography
Rex Mason is an adventurer who is hired by Stagg Enterprises CEO, Simon Stagg, to retrieve a rare Egyptian artifact, the Orb of Ra. Shortly after hiring him, Simon Stagg learns that Mason has been dating his daughter, Sapphire Stagg. This and other incidents begin to fuel in Stagg a dislike for Mason that ultimately leads to a plot to kill him.
In an Egyptian pyramid, Rex Mason is knocked out by Simon's brutish bodyguard, Java, and is eventually exposed to a radioactive meteorite from which the Orb of Ra was fashioned. A tremendous flare-up of its radiation transforms Mason into Metamorpho, the Element Man. He gains the ability to shapeshift and change himself into any element or combination of elements found in the human body. It is also established in his origin story (see: The Brave & The Bold #57) that Metamorpho is virtually invulnerable in his inert (untransformed) state, when Stagg, afraid that Rex is going to kill him, shoots him point-blank without effect. The Orb of Ra, however, has the same effect on Rex that kryptonite has on Superman. Thus Stagg continues to control Metamorpho using the Orb. Later, it is revealed that Mason is but one of many metamorphae, created by the sun god Ra – using the meteorite – to serve as warriors in his battle against the god Apep, "the serpent who never dies."
Metamorpho, unlike most super-humanoids described in DC Comics, cannot assume a normal, fully human appearance, being no longer composed of flesh, blood and bone. As such, he regards his metamorphic powers as a disease and seeks a cure for his condition. Because he considers himself a freak and wishes only to be restored to his former human state, he rejects an offer of membership from the Justice League of America. Green Lantern attempts to change him back using his power ring, but due to a "yellow" component of the meteorite radiation, is unable to make him normal again.
Metamorpho briefly has a crimefighting partner named Urania "Rainie" Blackwell, a woman who deliberately exposed herself to the Orb to gain its powers. She calls herself Element Girl and works with him on a number of cases.
Issues #16-17 were intended to show a new direction for the series, with Sapphire marrying a man named Wally Bannister and Metamorpho going off with a mysterious Mr. Shadow to deal with an immortal queen. Bent on world conquest, the queen (an exact lookalike of Sapphire's) marries Metamorpho. She later steps outside her mystic city and instantly ages 2,000 years.
When Wally Bannister is murdered by Algon (a metamorph who has lived for centuries in a depowered state), Metamorpho is framed. Instead coming to his defense against the false accusations, Metamorpho's colleague Mr. Shadow comes forth as an enemy. It is discovered that Mr. Shadow was attempting to enslave Metamorpho all along. Metamorpho is tried and convicted by a jury of rabble and is then executed. Element Girl later revives Metamorpho, and Algon, the real murderer, is killed by molten lava minerals in an attempt to regain his burned-out powers. It is later learned that Mr. Bannister's murder was actually engineered by the villainous Prosecutor, who is killed by an insectoid villain in a cocoon. At this point, issue #17 ends, and the story is never continued.
Metamorpho reappears years later in The Brave and the Bold #101 (April–May 1972). It is revealed that Metamorpho had spent the period after the end of his own series immersed in a painful chemical bath concocted by Stagg in an attempt to cure his condition. Stagg retrieves him from this "cure" too early because he needs Mason to save his endangered daughter Sapphire. Metamorpho goes on to star in a new backup series beginning in Action #413 (June 1972). There is no reference in this revival series to the events or characters of his previous two issues.
Urania Blackwell, unreferenced since the end of the regular series, is later revealed to have ended her partnership with Metamopho when her unrequited attraction to him became too much for her. Blackwell's power were removed, resulting in her death, at her own request by the sun god Ra, with assistance from Death, in Neil Gaiman's Sandman. Death mentions Algon in passing, as having died trying to convince Blackwell that she wouldn't live forever.
Metamorpho spends some time working with the Outsiders. While in the despotically ruled country of Mozombia, Metamorpho is subdued and taken apart. The tyrant's forces keep him inert with a constant application of radiation. He is freed by Katana's indestructible sword, which had been latched onto a live electrical wire.
While leaving Mozombia, the Outsiders' plane is shot down by the Bad Samaritan. Metamorpho and the others spend some time stranded on a deserted island, simply too far away from land to rescue themselves.
Metamorpho perishes, for the first of multiple times, during the Millennium event. The scientific adviser to the Outsiders, Dr. Jace, had decided that life with the more logical Manhunters was preferable and she betrayed the team. They fought back, but Metamorpho had been brainwashed into assisting Jace. He was killed in the resulting battle. He returns during the Invasion miniseries, when a gene-bomb set off by invading aliens affected his biomass.
Metamorpho spent some time with the Justice League, including Justice League Europe. There, he encounters Sapphire Stagg again. He becomes involved in a battle with the Metal Men, who had been tricked by Simon. His League friends, Rocket Red and Animal Man, were at the site of the battle, but were being detained by Java. At the conclusion of the battle, Metamorpho learns he had a son with Sapphire. Unfortunately, the baby boy's touch harmed all but Sapphire and Metamorpho. When Java held the baby, his arms melted. Metamorpho handed the baby over to Simon, who became convinced he would die, harmed like Java had been moments ago. However, something in his genetic structure protected him, just as it did with the baby's mother. Simon's stance softened and everyone was set free. Doc Magnus, the leader of the Metal Men, offered his services in creating new arms for Java. On the way home, Metamorpho's friends were puzzled as to how he knew Simon would be unaffected by the child. Metamorpho indicates that he had hoped the baby would kill Simon.
Metamorpho would later have a romantic relationship with Crimson Fox, which was cut short by her apparent murder. His personal investigation of the incident uncovers multiple layers of lies and deceit. During his time with the team, while fighting the planet-smashing aliens called The Family, Metamorpho is hit by a powerful energy blast that destroys his body. He quickly re-forms in a totally different look. He will sport this new look until his next demise.
Later, the Hyperclan attacked the Justice League of America's orbiting base, destroying it. Metamorpho protected three of his teammates, Nuklon, Obsidian, and the original Icemaiden, in a giant, fluid filled ball. The intent was for them to survive reentry into Earth's atmosphere. The three make it, injured but alive, but Metamorpho does not. He was buried with solemn honors. After a temporary resurrection by the wish-granting Id (fundamentally flawed because the wisher, his son Joey, only wished for him to be back rather than to be alive), he would return some time later.
Sapphire Stagg used the Orb of Ra to bring Metamorpho back to life, and he briefly joined the Doom Patrol. Shortly thereafter, an accident with one of Simon Stagg's experiments turned Simon, Sapphire, and Joey into an energy being, and caused Metamorpho to take on the form and personality of Java. "Java" kidnapped Black Canary, asking for her help in rescuing the others. With Canary's help, he became Metamorpho again and managed to return the others to their normal forms.
Outsiders / "Shift"
At the same time, Metamorpho had seemingly been appearing in the Outsiders (vol. 3) series, but Rex Mason informed the team that their "Metamorpho" is a regrown fragment of his own body. Rex attempts to reassimilate his "twin," but the Outsiders convinced him that the "twin" deserves the chance to lead his own life. This second Metamorpho chose the name "Shift" and developed a relationship with Indigo, becoming depressed over her death. After the events of One Year Later, Shift willingly chose to be reassimilated into Metamorpho, because he had killed several people. Rex has stepped in to fill Shift's position in the Outsiders, while a full account of Shift's crimes is explained in the Outsiders (vol. 3) Annual; he had inadvertently killed 44 people during Black Lightning's escape from Iron Heights Penitentiary.
Metamorpho continued to serve on the Outsiders when Batman took over, and following its further restructuring following Batman's apparent death. He was apparently killed alongside the rest of the team in a satellite explosion orchestrated by Talia al Ghul.
The New 52
In the rebooted continuity of The New 52, the Outsiders are revealed to have survived. It is mentioned that Metamorpho was able to save the team by using the same technique he used to rescue the Justice League during the Hyperclan's attack many years ago. He is also shown as one of the candidates for the new Justice League International, but he is ultimately not chosen.
Powers and abilities
Metamorpho can transmute his body to any of a wide variety of elemental compounds and form it to his will. Originally, he was limited to the elements which occur naturally in the human body. Over time, this limitation seems to have disappeared. He can alter the shapes and consistencies of these elements and combine them to form complex compounds. Rex can assume forms of gas, liquid or solid states.
Metamorpho can also shape parts and portions of his body instead of the whole. He can form such complex shapes as a tank and a bicycle and such simple forms as a cloud or a spring.
The nature of Rex's body provides him with natural body armor offering damage resistance from blunt attacks and energy attacks.
Besides the enemies that he fights with the Outsiders, Metamorpho has his own rogues gallery:
- Ahk-Ton - An ancient Egyptian priest who received the Orb of Ra which was fashioned from a meteorite by an alchemist. The Orb of Ra transformed him into the first Metamorph long before Rex Mason became Metamorpho.
- Doc Dread
- Jillian Conway - A former friend of Rex Mason who developed the same powers as him and planned to cure herself with the Orb of Ra.
- Maxwell Tremaine - A criminal scientist and former Nazi.
- Phantom of Washington - Achille Destinee was a French soldier in the 18th Century. Following his death during the War of 1812, his ghost has appeared before Abraham Lincoln, Woodrow Wilson, and Franklin D. Roosevelt offering aid to each one with no avail. He planned revenge on Washington DC and fought Metamorpho until Simon Stagg stole his artifact.
- Thunderer - A pint-sized demagogue from an alien dimension.
JLA: The Nail
The New Frontier
In other media
- According to Norm Prescott, six episodes of a series starring Metamorpho were completed and ready to air in 1960s, but the entire series was shelved when CBS chose to rush The Batman/Superman Hour on its schedule.
- Metamorpho appeared in the Justice League animated series two-part episode "Metamorphosis", voiced by Tom Sizemore. Rex Mason was a friend of John Stewart's from when they were Marines. He was exposed to mutagenic gas by his boss Simon Stagg who then convinced Mason that Stewart was the one responsible, supposedly as a way to steal his fiancée Sapphire (voiced by Danica McKellar). Metamorpho's attempts at revenge create a giant monster imbued with part of Stagg's mind, which threatens to harm Sapphire. Metamorpho sacrifices himself to stop the creature by turning into the chemical formula to neutralize it. Apparently killed, a single tear from Sapphire falls into his liquefied remains, allowing him to regenerate into his humanoid form. He is one of several heroes suggested to be Superman's replacement in the League after he is sent into the future by the Toyman (in the episode "Hereafter"). Here his code-name was the name of Stagg's project to create an enhanced worker for mining community.
- Metamorpho appears briefly in several non-speaking roles in Justice League Unlimited (specifically the episodes "Clash", "Panic in the Sky", and "Destroyer"), as well as in a still shot with the rest of the roster in "Initiation". In "Clash", Metamorpho assists in fighting Parasite, but has his powers stolen by the villain. In "Panic in the Sky" and "Destroyer", he helps battle against the Ultimen clones and Darkseid's Parademons, respectively.
- Metamorpho appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Enter the Outsiders!", voiced by Scott Menville. This version is a teenager who was a member of the Outsiders, along with Katana and Black Lightning. Here, he is shown to be a happy-go-lucky goofball and easily gets distracted by food (being that his abilities apparently require lots of energy to use). They worked for Slug until Batman and Wildcat convinced them to become crimefighters. Metamorpho helps in saving Wildcat's life when his heart stops in the middle of a fight. Katana has Metamorpho turn into oxygen in order to revive Wildcat. Metamorpho is later seen with Katana and Black Lightning in a training simulation in "Duel of the Double Crossers!". His insecurities about his appearance and his repressed anger are shown in a nightmare created by Psycho-Pirate in "Inside the Outsiders!". He reappeared along with the rest of the Outsiders (Black Lightning, Katana, Geo-Force, and Halo), a bit older, in the teaser to "Requiem for a Scarlet Speedster!", helping Batman stop Kobra and his cultists.
- Metamorpho appears in the Beware the Batman episode "Toxic" voiced by Adam Baldwin. This version was a security guard who worked at Stagg Industries. He was in a relationship with Sapphire Stagg much to the dismay of her father Simon Stagg. While investigating an alarm that was set off in Stagg Industries, Rex Mason chased a masked figure into the "Project Metamorpho" lab. Unbeknownst to Rex Mason, the masked figure was Simon Stagg who wanted to use Rex for an experiment that would turn him into an elemental super-soldier as Rex is exposed to the gas. Rex was saved by Batman and awoke in the hospital. When visited by Simon Stagg, Rex Mason apologized to him for secretly romancing Sapphire behind his back. When Rex went to the bathroom upon experiencing nausea, he began to transform into Metamorpho as a nearby police officer began to fire his gun on him. Metamorpho escaped from the hospital and went on a rampage near the Queen Street Gallery. Batman attempted to stop Metamorpho who escaped the restraints and collapsed a building. Before disappearing into the sewers, Metamorpho told Batman to "tell her not to be afraid." Batman had acquired a sample of Metamorpho and had it analyzed where his cellular structure is becoming unstable due to the exposure to the gas. Batman came to the conclusion that Metamorpho will die soon. Upon sneaking into Stagg Industries, Batman learned the truth about Metamorpho. Metamorpho snuck into Sapphire Stagg's bedroom and assured her that he is still Rex Mason on the inside. Batman arrived and accused Simon Stagg of transforming Rex Mason into Metamorpho. Though Sapphire Stagg refused to believe it, Metamorpho believed the fact. This caused Metamorpho to lose control and he fought Batman again with Sapphire Stagg ending up accidentally tasered during the fight. Metamorpho fled with Sapphire's body to Stagg Industries to get revenge on Simon Stagg. While Simon Stagg unknowingly stalled Metamorpho, Batman made an antidote by the time Simon Stagg led Metamorpho to the "Project Metamorpho" lab where the antidote failed to cure Metamorpho. Metamorpho questioned Sapphire Stagg about her loving who he was in the outside where she admitted she didn't feel the same anymore. Metamorpho shattered the emergency ventilator and vanished. Presumed dead by Batman, Simon Stagg, and Sapphire, Metamorpho reconstituted underground in secret. In "Monsters", Metamorpho re-surfaces several months later as the "Golem of Old Gotham". With better control of his powers, he has been taking down gangs of thugs in high-tech armor and weapons that have been terrorizing citizens in Old Gotham, while hiding away from public eye. Batman and Katana encounter him and end up teaming up with him against the criminals, who unbeknownst to him, were organized by Sapphire to drive the citizens out and buy the land for profit, while she is also not aware that he is alive. Rex embraces the name "Metamorpho," accepting his powers as a gift to make a difference, and becomes an ally to Batman and Katana. In "Alone," Metamorpho assists Man-Bat and Katana into helping Batman fight Deathstroke. With a chemical made by Man-Bat, Metamorpho ends up using it to wipe out Deathstroke's memory of Bruce Wayne being Batman.
- On August 8, 2013, Arrow executive producer Marc Guggenheim tweeted a picture of production art for the third episode of season 2, featuring a logo on a van for "Metamorpho Chemical", hinting at Metamorpho being featured in the show. In that episode, "Broken Dolls", the logo on the van helped Oliver track the Dollmaker's location to the abandoned Metamorpho Chemical factory, after he kidnaps Laurel and Officer Lance. Also earlier in Season 1 STAGG Industries is mentioned as being one of Laurel's law firm's biggest benefactors and that they were dropping their funding support of the firm. Simon Stagg appeared in episode 2 of Arrow spin-off The Flash but was killed at the end of the episode.
- Metamorpho can be seen as one of the several heroes at the end of Justice League: The New Frontier.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1960s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 114. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
Scribe Bob Haney and artist Ramona Fradon were truly in their element...Haney and Fradon's collaborative chemistry resulted in [Rex] Mason becoming Metamorpho.
- Jones, Gerard; Will Jacobs (October 23, 1996). The Comic Book Heroes. Rocklin, CA: Prima Lifestyles. pp. 76–77. ISBN 978-0-7615-0393-4.
- Stroud, Bryan (May 2013). "Metamorpho in Action Comics". Back Issue! (TwoMorrows Publishing) (64): 22–27.
- Minnick, Remy (January 30, 2009). "Gaiman & Allred on Metamorpho". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved January 31, 2009.
- Beatty, Scott; Jimenez, Phil (October 4, 2004). The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley Limited. p. 202. ISBN 978-0-7566-0592-6.
- Barr, Mike W. (w), Larsen, Erik (a). "Robot Tyrants of Kadeyland!" The Outsiders 27 (January 1988), DC Comics
- Birds of Prey #51-52 (March – April 2003)
- Outsiders (vol. 3) #7 (February 2004)
- Batman Incorporated: Leviathan Strikes
- Batman Incorporated (vol. 2) #1
- Justice League International (vol. 3) #1
- Brave and the Bold #57
- Metamorpho #8
- Metamorpho Vol. 2 #1
- Brave and the Bold #58
- 1st Issue Special #3
- Metamorpho #14
- Justice #7
- JLA: The Nail #2
- DC: The New Frontier #12
- Guggenheim, Marc (August 8, 2013). "Coming to Arrow Season 2…". Twitter. Retrieved August 10, 2013.
- Schedeen, Jesse (October 24, 2013). "Everyone Loves A Pretty Doll". IGN. Retrieved October 24, 2013.