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Terra-Man as seen in Superman #187 (December 2002)
|First appearance||Superman #249 (March 1972)|
|Created by||Cary Bates
|Alter ego||Tobias "Toby" Manning|
|Place of origin||Earth|
|Team affiliations||Secret Society of Super Villains|
Terra-Man (real name Toby Manning) is a fictional character and supervillain who appears in Superman stories published by DC Comics. Terra-Man first appeared in March 1972 in Superman (volume 1) #249.
Fictional character biography
The Pre-1985 Terra-Man is noted for using futuristic weapons modeled after those used in the American Old West, as well as riding a winged horse named Nova. It was revealed, in Superman #249, that Manning had in fact been born during the Old West era. After killing Toby's father Jess, an alien known to the universe as the Currency-Criminal took young Toby as his ward, raising him from childhood and teaching him the use of alien weapons, which he created in imitation of the 19th century weapons Toby was familiar with. After Manning had grown to adulthood and learned what he could, he killed the alien and began a career as an interstellar outlaw, "Terra-Man" (a name chosen to refer to Manning's Earthly origins). Eventually his travels took him to Earth, where he became an enemy of Superman. Throughout his pre-Crisis career, Terra-Man usually returned to Earth only in efforts to outfight or outwit Superman; otherwise he remained at large in outer space, committing crimes to carry the legend of the Wild West outlaw across the stars. Terra-Man spoke in an almost buffoonishly stereotypical "cowboy" drawl with liberal use of Old West slang and colloquialisms, lending a humorous air to his deadly activities. This version of Terra-Man is revealed to be dead by the time of Whatever Happened To The Man Of Tomorrow, with Lois Lane mentioning that he and The Parasite, a frequent partner in crime, had ended up killing each other at some point before the start of the story.
The Post-Crisis version of the Terra-Man was a businessman whose conscience began to bother him about the damage he was causing to the Earth's environment. He decided to save Earth and attacked enterprises which were dangerous to the environment. Though this version has a different origin, his name (Tobias Manning) remains the same, and he still retains a western theme, including a thick accent and the cowboy-esque way that he handles his guns. His weapons now focused mainly on turning the environment against his opponents (i.e.: plants and the earth element). He also had a robotic army dressed in western garb, called the Terra-Men.
Like his modus operandi, his new background is ecological, and because of that he calls himself the Terra-Man. The weapons and equipment he has developed enable him to use a pair of jet packs mounted on his armor for flight, create a teleportation vortex resembling a small tornado, and guns which can cause shockwaves and earthquakes, or fire specially tailored flora at a target. He has engineered numerous forms of plant life specialized for his needs, including one that can actively drain other lifeforms of energy derived from sunlight, meaning that it drained power from Superman when in contact with him, and ones that can liquify organic material. Both of these plants have been shown to be possibly used as ammunition for his firearms. He's also developed a process to purportedly quickly and cleanly remove all dangerous poisons from toxic sites and renew nutrients in soil.
Although Manning may lack their mutations and telepathic control over the earth and plant elements, his knowledge of their sciences is arguably on par with the likes of Poison Ivy or the Floronic Man. At times, Manning respects Superman's common desire to preserve nature, while other times, Terra-Man fears that Superman may be contaminating the Earth with extraterrestrial germs and viruses, and thus wishes to end the Man of Steel's life before any more "harm" can be done to the environment.
Apart from battling Superman, Terra-Man also assisted the Metropolis Special Crimes Unit in their own miniseries.
Two weeks and a day after the end of Infinite Crisis, Terra-Man is still up to no good. He hijacks Ferris Air Flight 456 over the middle of the Mediterranean Sea, and Power Girl gives chase until they reach the nation of Khandaq. Terra-Man then escapes capture thanks to Black Adam, who forbids Power Girl from entering Khandaq's airspace. Later, Terra-Man appears to ally himself with Black Adam. However, when Black Adam later appears to address the media in front of Khandaq's embassy in New York City, he suddenly rips Terra-Man in half at his pelvis, killing him.
In other media
- Although not referred to as Terra-Man, Tobias Manning appears in the Justice League Unlimited episode "The Once and Future Thing" voiced by Ed O'Ross. He steals Chronos' time-traveling gear to use for ruling a western town. Batman, Wonder Woman, and Green Lantern (who were pursuing Chronos at the time) team up with Bat Lash, Jonah Hex, El Diablo, and Sheriff Ohiyesa Smith to defeat Tobias Manning and take back the town.
- Terra-Man appeared in the Legion of Super-Heroes episode "Unnatural Alliances" voiced by Jeff Black. Here, he was a self-repairing android (getting crushed by a planet forming around him couldn't kill him) created in the 41st-century by the sentient artificial intelligence known as K3NT (the same one who created Superman X). Terra-Man was sent back in time to kill a boy named Abel, who would one day invent the technology that would result in the creation of the warlord known as Imperiex. This drove both Superman X and Imperiex to protect him with Imperiex motive being to ensure his own survival and Superman X's motive being to prevent what is morally wrong. In the end, Terra-Man was ultimately destroyed by the unlikely team-up of Superman X and Imperiex.
- McAvennie, Michael; Dolan, Hannah, ed. (2010). "1970s". DC Comics Year By Year A Visual Chronicle. Dorling Kindersley. p. 150. ISBN 978-0-7566-6742-9.
Scripter Cary Bates and artist Curt Swan chose an inopportune time for Superman to meet Terra-Man, a spaghetti Western-garbed menace who rode a winged horse and wielded lethal alien weaponry.