espanolbot: (Default)
[personal profile] espanolbot posting in [community profile] scans_daily
With the recent debut of a new Metallo over in Supergirl's show, I thought that the time had come to have a look at one of Superman's longer running... B-list (I guess?) bad guys. Strictly speaking, the original Metallo was a couple of dudes in power-armour, but I'm focusing on the Silver Age version here.

Our tale begins in Action Comics 252, which also houses the debut of the first proper version of Supergirl. I have to specify in this case, as there was a Supergirl who came first and... well... it's not really the one most are familiar with (Silver Age Jimmy Olsen whackiness is involved, as is a magic totem and Jimmy trying to create a girlfriend for Supes).

ANYWAY, out of all the origin stories that I've covered into this series thing, this is probably my favourite for being so concise and so silly at the same time.

"He will be the middle piece/write a novel about my favourite character/get turned into a walrus/get turned with plastic surgery into my wife's double!"

Nah, just kidding. They just scoop his brain out and put it into a robot body, as you do.

Corben quickly discovers he has superstrength by accidentally tearing the door off its hinges and punches through the rocky debris behind it. Thinking that he's in the clear, he heads to Metropolis, where he gets a job at the Daily Planet and promptly starts making clumsy passes at Lois, to her annoyance. He quickly discovers that his uranium power-source is rapidly becoming depleted, and that he needs to get more fast!

While Superman is off saving submarine in the Arctic, Corben takes the opportunity to raid every single place in Metropolis which might have the stuff he needs to keep living, becoming giddy over the fact that he can pretty much do whatever he likes at this point. The radio is quick to jump to the (admittedly correct) conclusion that these robberies were carried out by someone with an indestructable metal skeleton, and names him Wolver... err... Metallo: Public Enemy Number One.

Meanwhile, Clark flies off to pull a prank on a woman who decided to go over a waterfall in a barrel for a stunt, after she had the cheek to assume that Superman would save her regardless of her doing something really stupid purely for the publicity.

Yeah, turns out that him looking like a moustache-wearing Clark was a deliberate artistic decision, go fig'. Lois' insistance that must be Superman leads to him getting the idea to dress as Supes in order to carry out more high profile robberies, including going onto an army base to punch things, because who'd suspect Superman of nuclear theft?

Corben goes back to the doctor to ask what the second element capable of powering his body is, the doctor having recovered from his stroke, and it turns out it's Kryptonite.

Boo! Lazy solution to the story! And... Superman just straight up killed him, huh?

Most versions of Corben in the future tended to scope the angle of him being a murderous reporter, instead going more for him being a straight-up criminal who happens to luck out on finding a scientist with a poor grasp of patient consent laws. Him being in a relationship with Lois has cropped up a number of times, however, for example in the Superman: Secret Origins series Corben's an US army sargent that Lois' dad (General Lane) is attempting to pressure her into marrying (they go on one date, that's it).

Out of the versions which I've seen (which includes the brief time in the 1990s and 2000s where he became a magical robot cyborg due to Neron), I think that my favourite version is probably Malcolm McDowell's version from the DCAU. There he was a henchman of Lex Luthor who agreed to go to prison rather than rat on his boss... only for Lex to secretly infect him with a vague disease in order to see whether his consciousness could be transfered into a robot body.

A certain amount of meta-narrative could be made that this point, considering Lex's future attempts to do the same to himself (as well as the tech used a couple of times in Batman Beyond), but it was curious to see Metallo go from being a cool, collected villain into more of a rampaging monster due to Lex's scientists only equiping him the ability to see and hear. Corben being numbed to the senses of touch, taste and smell is certainly a more visceral kind of horror than a lot of other cyborgs in fiction. The Six Million Dollar Man never complained about the limitations of 1970s robots technology when it came to his enchancements, for example.

The original Silver Age Corben would definitely be creepy as all heck if he really did show up with "rubber-plastic skin" at the standards of the time. The uncanny valley wasn't a thing back then, but chances are anyone who saw him would run for the hills!
Next up, a trip over to Marvel with a look at the introduction of Blade.

Date: 2016-10-29 03:37 pm (UTC)
bradygirl_12: (clark (pink kryptonite ring))
From: [personal profile] bradygirl_12
I enjoyed this! Looks like the Supergirl TV show has the same issues with patient consent, but they're bad guys, anyway! :)

The Silver Age is a lot of fun. Comics didn't take themselves seriously and you could always get a chuckle or two out of most stories. :)

Date: 2016-10-30 12:59 am (UTC)
zapbiffpow: (Default)
From: [personal profile] zapbiffpow
I bet the boldfacing on that last panel was totes intentional.

Superman: "Dead wrong? Get it, Doc? Dead? Because he's, uh, he's dead...ahem."


(Superman coughs awkwardly into his hand)

Doctor: "...You're not well, Superman."

Date: 2016-10-30 02:37 am (UTC)
From: [personal profile] lego_joker
Heh - I was just about to go shopping around for the debuts of a bunch of Silver Age B- and C-listers after finally seeing them all together in Alex Ross' Justice. Thanks for saving me the effort of looking up Metallo's debut.

Also, what exactly was the point of Metallo's shirt getting ripped by the doorknob? That might've been the single most awkwardly-executed panel in the story.


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