Professor Hamilton

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Emil Hamilton
Professor Hamilton.jpg
Emil Hamilton as seen in Adventures of Superman #424 (January 1987).
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance As Professor Hamilton: Adventures of Superman #424 (January 1987)
As Ruin: Adventures of Superman #630 (September 2004)
Created by Marv Wolfman & Jerry Ordway
In-story information
Alter ego Emil Hamilton
Team affiliations S.T.A.R. Labs
Notable aliases Ruin
Abilities Genius-level Intelligence

Professor Emil Hamilton is a fictional character in DC Comics' Superman titles. He was created by Marv Wolfman and Jerry Ordway. He is generally portrayed as a stereotypical absent-minded professor, with a gray beard and thick glasses and, at times, a "Mr. Wizard" type character. However, recent versions of the character have been more villainous as he begins to see Superman as a potential threat to the world. The character was named after Edmond Hamilton, who wrote stories about Superman and other characters from the 1940s to the 1960s.[1]

Fictional character biography[edit]

He first appeared in Adventures of Superman #424, as an apparent villain, using his gadgets to attack Superman in an attempt to gain funding by proving that they worked. A former employee of S.T.A.R. Labs and the US Government, it transpired he had been driven insane when all his research was bought up by Lex Luthor, who took credit for the inventions. He was placed in a mental health facility and responded well to treatment. On his release, he set up a laboratory in Suicide Slum and quickly became Superman's "scientific advisor", eking out a general living as a technical consultant. He was responsible for creating many devices that aided Superman, including the Phantom Zone Projector and early Superman Robots, as well as helping Superman during such problems as the 'Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite', when Red Kryptonite created by Mister Mxyzptlk shut down Superman's powers; until Superman's powers were restored, Hamilton provided him with various machinery such as a force field belt and an armoured suit to allow him to continue as a hero. Later, another force field belt Emil provides allows Superman to get around the power-blocking talents of the artificial life forms 'Psi-Phon' and 'Dreadnaught'.[2]

Emil's first time turning evil is when the immortal 'Mister Z' brainwashes him into assisting in an attack on Superman.[3]

Later, Superman is fighting the alien monster Doomsday. Working with Bibbo, another ally of the Man of Steel, Emil sets up a powerful laser and scores a direct strike on the monster. It does little to stop it.[4] The two combatants seemingly fall dead and Emil creates a CPR unit for the hero. Bibbo is injured while using it and Hamilton takes over. Their efforts fail and Superman is declared dead.[5] This failure causes feelings of intense guilt that not even Hamilton's long-term female friend Mildred Krantz can help him overcome.[6] After the hero's return, Emil helps in the investigation of a Superman 'corpse duplicate'.[7] He lost an arm during the Fall of Metropolis storyline, but replaced it with a self-designed cybernetic prosthesis.

He also provided Superboy with the visor that duplicated Superman's vision powers (x-ray and heat vision). This helps Superboy get a start on a heroic career in Hawaii. Hamilton would also enjoy time in that state as well.[8] He spends time with Superman, assisting him in restoring in Fortress of Solitude and saving the lives of the citizens of the Bottle City of Kandor.[9]


Many years later, when John Henry Irons returned to Metropolis, just prior to the B13 Event, Hamilton felt he was being sidelined, as Superman now had access to a scientific genius who was also a fellow superhero. He disappeared during the B13 Event when Metropolis was transformed into a future version of itself.

He eventually resurfaced as the Overmind, the leader of a cyberpunk gang plotting the return of Brainiac 13. He claimed, however, that the B13-technology in his prosthetic arm was controlling his actions. Presumably this claim held some truth, as he later returned to his role as Superman's advisor using his innate understanding of the futuristic technology now available to him.

Hamilton, together with several other scientific geniuses and robotic beings (Automan, Brainstorm, Doctor Cyber, Ford, and Rosie the Riveter), was for a brief period part of the composite cybernetic being called Enginehead. However (if this story is still canon), the being seems to have been divided into the individual personalities again shortly after the events of the series.[10]

Recently it was revealed that Hamilton was, in fact, the villain named Ruin, who had been targeting Superman's loved ones.[11] Ruin claimed to have discovered that Superman was sucking the sun dry of its solar energy, and that, in 4.5 billion years, it would mean the end of life on Earth. The identity of Ruin had been kept a mystery, until it seemed that Clark's friend, and former President of the United States, Pete Ross was Ruin.[12] Pete Ross claimed innocence, but he became even more suspect when he escaped from custody. It turned out that it had been Hamilton who had framed Ross, and kidnapped him again from prison. Hamilton then confronted and revealed himself to Superman, seemingly killing the 5th dimension imp Mister Mxyzptlk in the process when he tried to save Superman.[13] Superman defeated the insane Hamilton, and saved Pete, Lana Lang, and their child. Superman later cleared Ross' name and reputation, and Hamilton was apparently imprisoned.[14]

During the events chronicled in Infinite Crisis, Ruin was one of many superhuman criminals who joined the villainous Society organized by Alexander Luthor, Jr.

The Pre-Flashpoint version of Emil Hamilton appears during the Convergence storyline. He has seemingly reformed, having made a home in the Pre-Flashpoint Gotham City on the planet Telos and repaired his friendship with Jimmy Olsen. Emil spent time rebuilding the 'Whiz Wagon', a flying, multi-purpose vehicle, as self-imposed reformation therapy.[15]

Powers and abilities[edit]

Emil Hamilton is a normal human being and thus, has no inherent super powers, though he is a brilliant scientist and inventor, having designed and built devices such as a force-field generator. However, as Ruin he dons a "power suit." The suit allows Ruin to take advantage of his knowledge of Superman's weaknesses. Powerful blasts of Kryptonian red sunlight can be fired from the suit, which essentially sap Superman of all his powers. Also, Ruin is able to transport himself to the Phantom Zone (though at a detriment to his health), and reemerge anywhere, effectively allowing him to teleport. If the suit is forcibly removed from Hamilton's body, it self-destructs with a massive force, apparently enough to destroy a small city, although enough time elapsed between the removal and the explosion for Superman to get it to a safe distance using his superspeed.

Emil has designed various prosthetic arms with unusual abilities, including one that acted as a sunscreen dispenser.

Other versions[edit]


Professor Hamilton made an appearance in the Elseworlds tale, JLA: The Nail.[16] In this story, Hamilton still operates S.T.A.R. labs, but is a secret-alien research facility in Smallville, Kansas that includes various heroes and villains who have been publicly identified as aliens to increase paranoia among the population. Hamilton also appeared in Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl and Batgirl, featuring Batgirl and Supergirl, having previously worked with Lex Luthor to create a new solar battery only to be disgraced when he tried to reveal the truth about the project (It actually uses the corpse of the infant Kal-El as a power source).[17]

In other media[edit]


  • Dr. Emil Hamilton appeared in two episodes of Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (both in the second season), as a S.T.A.R. Labs scientist. He was played by John Pleshette. In "That Old Gang of Mine," Dr. Emil Hamilton had used the DNA of Al Capone (portrayed by William Devane) to regenerate him as part of an experiment that would reprogram him as a good citizen. Al Capone forces Emil Hamilton to recreate John Dillinger (portrayed by Robert Clohessy) and Bonnie and Clyde (portrayed by Amy Hathaway and Joseph Gian) as part of a plot to take over Metropolis. After Clark's apparent death at a club at the hands of the gangsters, Lois visits Emil locked in his laboratory where Al has him create a clone of Baby Face Nelson. While in Emil's closet, Emil and Lois overhear Al's plan to bomb the Daily Planet until Lois accidentally gave herself away. Al Capone has Lois and Emil placed in cement death trap before leaving to cause a massacre at the Daily Planet's party. When Emil asks Al Capone who will recreate his gang if he's disposed, Al states that they have the notes of his research and will find another scientist to do the job. When Al Capone and his gang arrive to kill the people at the Daily Planet, Superman arrives after saving Lois and Emil (simultaneously using Emil's equipment to create a scenario that would allow Clark Kent to survive after he had recently been apparently killed by Capone's mob in a club) and helps to fight Al Capone. Following the arrest of Al Capone, Bonnie and Clyde, and John Dillinger, Emil later visited Lois and Clark stating that he has burned his laboratory destroying his research feeling that Clark's resurrection was not enough to redeem his research. Emil is then approached by Detective Wolfe who would like to ask Emil some questions downtown. Emil goes along quietly and states that he'll answer them as long as they aren't about DNA. In "Return of the Prankster," Emil Hamilton explains to Lois Lane and Clark Kent on how Prankster's light ray can affect the brain where it would give it paralysis. Emil Hamilton managed to make special contact lenses for Superman to use in order to defeat Prankster.
  • Professor Hamilton was a regular in Superman: The Animated Series voiced by Victor Brandt. He is the director of S.T.A.R. Labs. He constructed things such as Kryptonite-resistant suits from lead and inter-dimensional warps, as well as working a Phantom Zone projector in the episode Blasts from the Past. After Darkseid's brainwashing of Superman in the third season's finale "Legacy," Hamilton began to feel a growing distrust of metahumans. In that episode, Kara In-Ze (Supergirl) was critically wounded, and Superman, now a fugitive, takes her to S.T.A.R. Labs only to find Hamilton reluctant to operate on her for fear of being accused of treason. Superman forces the man to proceed. Shaken, Hamilton complied, but also secretly took the opportunity to obtain samples of her genetic material despite the fact that Superman immediately apologized for his rash act.
  • Returning in the later DC Animated Universe show Justice League Unlimited, Professor Hamilton (now voiced by veteran 1970s actor Robert Foxworth) has secretly become a confederate of Amanda Waller, the leader of Project Cadmus. Hamilton uses cloning and other such methods to create metahumans loyal and subservient to Cadmus. Hamilton was their expert on genetics, along with the mental manipulatist Dr. Hugo Strange and splicing scientist Dr. Achilles Milo (later killed by Doomsday, after causing general mayhem through animal/human hybridization in prior DCAU series). It was discovered in the season one episode Fearful Symmetry that he had produced a clone of Supergirl through the genetic samples taken in Legacy. This sociopathic clone, code-named Galatea, would be of primary importance in the Cadmus Project's endeavors against the Justice League. Superman finally discovers Hamilton's betrayal of trust in Season 2 of JLU. Hamilton is unrepentant of his actions, and makes it clear that he believes Superman can never be fully trusted again, comparing Superman to Lucifer. In one surprising moment, Galatea hugs Hamilton referring to him as "Daddy." After Galatea's defeat, Hamilton was never seen again but it was inferred that he apologized to the Justice League for his actions and his betrayal.
  • There were two Professor Hamiltons in Smallville:
In the first season of Smallville, the character of Dr. Steven Hamilton (portrayed by actor Joe Morton) was introduced. He was hired by Lex Luthor to examine the effects of Kryptonite. In the process of discovering the substance's effects, he discovered the Nicodemus flower which caused humans to go insane, slip into a coma, and subsequently die. Clark Kent (Tom Welling)'s adoptive father Jonathan Kent, love interest Lana Lang, and friend Pete Ross were all brought into contact with this deadly flower. Lex Luthor ordered Dr. Hamilton find a cure, bringing an end to the crisis. Hamilton made an additional appearance in the series' second season, wherein he perished due to overexposure to Kryptonite while trying to force Clark to tell him about the ship that brought him to Earth. The series has given no indication of any relationship between Steven and Emil Hamilton other than a shared surname.
Emil Hamilton on Smallville.
In the season eight episode "Identity," Emil's name was seen in a Daily Planet article about the mysterious "Red-Blue Blur", Clark Kent 's earliest superhero identity, which had been sighted around the city of Metropolis. The article was written by Ron Troupe, another character from the DC universe. His first on-screen appearance was in the episode "Bulletproof" played by Alessandro Juliani. He appears as a doctor who was able to save the Martian Manhunter (Phil Morris)'s life when he had been shot by a corrupt cop, Oliver Queen (Justin Hartley) having hired him as a private doctor for his team because of his last brush with death when he had been poisoned. A few episodes later Chloe Sullivan (Allison Mack) met with Emil Hamilton to ask him about Davis Bloome (Samuel Witwer), but all he could tell her was that he was dangerous and the more attempts one would use to try to destroy him, the more he will adapt to them. Oliver called for him to ask him to help Jimmy (Aaron Ashmore) after Davis attacked. Hamilton alerted Clark about Doomsday striking again, finding the slaughtered metahuman Neutron and his friend Livewire. When Clark lost the use of his powers to Parasite, Hamilton equipped Clark with a fast, high-tech car. Hamilton appears in season nine, in "Savior". "Metallo", "Rabid," "Pandora," and in the TV movie, "Absolute Justice". In season ten, he even more regularly assists the Justice League. In season ten's storylines, he is subject to interrogation by proponents of the Vigilante Registration Act, attends Clark bachelor party, and has a short-lived romance with Tess Mercer (Cassidy Freeman).


  • Dr. Emil Hamilton was portrayed by Richard Schiff in Zack Snyder's 2013 film, Man of Steel. In this version, he is a DARPA scientific adviser for the U.S. Military, who was hired to view a supposed scout ship in the Arctic. He later attends the interrogation of Lois Lane and Superman and plays a crucial part in the film's climax. Using Superman's ship, Hamilton implanted his Kryptonian key within a portion of the machine that created a singularity that sucked all of the Kryptonians (Superman and Zod excluded) back into the Phantom Zone along with some military personnel and presumably Hamilton himself, leaving his fate unknown.

Video games[edit]

  • In the Superman Returns video game. Professor Hamilton gives instructions on the meteor shower to Superman in the beginning of the game.


  1. ^
  2. ^ Adventures of Superman #442 (July 1988)
  3. ^ Adventures of Superman #404 (November 1994)
  4. ^ Superman: The Man of Steel #19 (January 1993)
  5. ^ Adventures of Superman #498 (January 1993)
  6. ^ Superman: The Man of Steel #20 (February 1993)
  7. ^ Superman (vol. 2) #95 (December 1994)
  8. ^ Superboy (vol. 4) #1-3 (February–April 1994)
  9. ^ Superman (vol. 2) #117 (November 1996)
  10. ^ Enginehead #1-6 (June–November 2004)
  11. ^ Adventures of Superman #636 (March 2005)
  12. ^ Adventures of Superman #640 (July 2005)
  13. ^ Adventures of Superman #646 (January 2006)
  14. ^ Adventures of Superman #647 (February 2006)
  15. ^ Convergence: Superman #1 (April 2015)
  16. ^ JLA: The Nail #2 (September 1998)
  17. ^ Elseworld's Finest: Supergirl and Batgirl #1 (September 1998)

External links[edit]