Superman Robots

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Superman Robots fighting against Kal-El.

Superman Robots are robots that feature in DC Comics.

Contents

History

Silver Age

Millionaire John Wiley came to learn the secret identity of Superman after making the Man of Steel confess to the philanthropist on his deathbed. However, the death was faked as Wiley was secretly the head of the Anti-Superman Gang and sought to use this knowledge to eliminate the hero. This involved luring Clark Kent to a Wiley mine that contained a large boulder of Kryptonite. Wiley's men in the mean time directed electronic static machines to jam the circuits of the Superman Robots at Clark Kent's apartment to prevent them from assisting their master. (Action Comics v1 #276)

Robot X35 during patrol found a yacht owned by Mark Vine that came under attack from undersea monsters. It dove underwater and battled the creatures thus saving the crew of the ship but this came at the cost of the Superman Robot. The machine was salvaged by the crew of the ship for Mr. Vine's niece Morna Vine who took the various components to her scientist father. He managed to create specialised equipment from the destroyed robot that replicated each of Superman's various abilities that was used by Morna Vine in her career as a reporter at the Daily Planet. (Superman v1 #181)

One robot was kept operational for special duty in the Fortress of Solitude. This unit was responsible for battling Faora Hu-Ul who knocked its head off whereupon she realized that she was not fighting Superman but a robot. (Action Comics v1 #473)

Modern Age

When Superman fell under the mental sway of Dominus, he came to believe that he needed to police the Earth constantly and in an aggressive manner. To achieve this task, he created an army of robots based on himself that he dispatched to search the planet for Dominus whilst ensuring no crimes were conducted during his watch of the world. This led to them protecting mankind to the point that they employed aggressive actions when necessary and attended crises that were out of Superman's reach. After recovering from his mental possession, Kal-El proceeded to destroy all the robots except for a single one that became both the guardian and playmate to Krypto at the Fortress. Though seemingly all deactivated, one such machine was activated by Indigo who secretly sent it after the Titans and Young Justice. The robot was responsible for killing Lilith Clay and Donna Troy before it was destroyed.

Following the incident with the Teen Titans, Superman dismantled the robots but schematics of their design was with a boy in Tokyo which the robotic Toyman had stolen. (Action Comics v1 #837)

A Superman Robot was called by Kelex when the Fortress was invaded by the hired supervillain NRG-X who easily destroyed it and damaged the Kryptonian service robot. (Superman/Batman v1 #70)

When the construct came to life, it began taking control of robotic entities from across the world in an attempt to wipe out life on Earth. Among those taken over were the Superman Robots that defended Kelex as the caretaker sought to use the alien weapons in the Fortress of Solitude to wipe out all life on the planet. However, they were attacked by Supergirl and Jessie Quick who managed to defeat them whilst destroying Kelex before the robotic custodian completed his goal. (Justice League of America v2 #60)

Overview

Beneath their plastic skin, they contained a number of components such as;

  • infra-red coils for heat vision
  • ocular super-lens for telescopic vision
  • X-Ray tube for X-Ray vision
  • sense organ in the nose for super-scent
  • voice amplifier in the mouth
  • transistorised electronic brain that did not allow them to think independently but follow programmed instruction
  • sound receiver for super-hearing
  • voice box allowing them to imitate their creator
  • a power source that was designed to beat like a human heart
  • flight battery that used the same anti-gravity principles as the Legion of Super-Heroes Flight-Rings. (Superboy v1 #161)

Their metallic skeletons closely resembled that of humans allowing them to achieve realistic movements. Over the skeleton were muscles that were composed of a special flexible steel alloy that provided these robots with super-strength. Plastic skin and realistic hair along with a costume allowed the robots to appear like their creator. However, these robots were not as invulnerable as their maker nor were their chemically-treated suits as indestructible as his super-costume. (Superboy v1 #161)

During the Dominus incident, the robots constructed by Kal-El were all evidently mechanical in nature and not exact duplicates of Superman but retained the S shield though had variations of the colors of his costume. They were not realistic copies of their creator as they had no artificial skin but retained copies of some of his abilities such as super-strength, flight and heat vision but these were all inferior to Superman's own powers. Whilst programmed, the automatons retained some degree of sentience that allowed them to operate as independent agents of Kal-El.

Members

  • Adam Newman : a robot built by Clark Kent to protect his secret identity but failed in mimicking his mannerisms until an electrical shock actually increased its cunning and intelligence. When Kal-El believed the android to be destroyed, Newman went to the Fortress of Solitude where it studied Kal-El's mannerisms, removed his powers and usurped his role as Superman until defeated by Kent. (Superman v1 #174)
  • Ajax : a robot on Earth-One which was sent as a double agent in the ranks of the Superman Revenge Squad though the villains programmed a timer on the machine to expire after a set time leading to his death after their defeat. Superman later buried Ajax who was known as the superhero Wonder-Man where he acknowledged his bravery on his tombstone. (Superman v1 #163)
  • Macduff : one of the last of the decommissioned robots who had been reprogrammed to serve as a host to Superman's friends that arrive in the Fortress of Solitude. (Superman v1 #414)
  • Powerman : a robot seen on Earth-One which Superman masks as his new partner in an effort to safeguard his friends from harm such as Batman and Robin though he retires the android after seeing his allies loyalty despite the risks. (World's Finest v1 #94)
  • X-3 : a robot that went to save an astronaut capsule in space when he got hit by a meteor causing the badly damaged machine to crash on the planet Varda where the last mermaid Mooki repaired him before dying. The telepathic command led to X-3 being restored but unable t leave the planet whereupon he created a robotic duplicate of Mooki to be his wife and built a son named Nipper. (Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane v1 #30)
  • Superman Robot Z : a robot that decided to test Lois Lane's love of Superman by giving her powers similar to him when Kal-El had lost his abilities. (Action Comics v1 #274)
  • Super-Mite : a miniature Superman Robot that was the size of the Kandorians in their shrunken state with him strictly following commands given to him. (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen v1 #60)
  • X35 : a robot that found a yacht owned by Mark Vine that came under attack from sea monsters and saved the crew only to be destroyed in the process. (Superman v1 #181)
  • K-31 : tasked to maintain his duties as Clark Kent whilst Kal-El went into the past to investigate the remains of a caveman that was wearing a Superman costume. (Action Comics v1 #350)

Notes

  • The Superman Robots were created by Al Plastino where they made their first appearance in World's Finest v1 #42 (September, 1949).

Alternate Versions

  • Alternate versions of Superman Robots feature in Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman where they were shown to be robotic appearing duplicate of Superman that assisted in operating the Fortress of Solitude. One of their number designated Superman Robot Seven was hacked by Lex Luthor who had the machine smuggle the Exogene formula to him. The substance allowed a human user to be granted Superman-like powers for a twenty four hour period. When Solaris the Tyrant Sun attacked Sol, the Robots along with Seven joined Superman in attacking the cosmic villain whilst one remained behind to guard the Fortress. Superman Robot Seven attempted to redeem himself for his previous betrayal though he and his robotic colleagues were all destroyed in the battle with Solaris.
  • In The Multiversity: The Just, Earth-16 was shown to had Superman Robots that Kal-El had used to bring about a virtual utopia devoid of crime and supervillains. On this Earth, the young generation of superheroes grew that lacked any foes to battle and simply orchestrated recreations of famous battles in order to capture the glory of those years to alleviate the boredom. However, Alexis Luthor usurped control over the robots and turned them against the planet as the Gentry begins its invasion.
  • In Injustice 2 v1 #36 (2017), Superman Robots appeared in the alternate world setting that was based on the video game. They were referred to as Eradicators that were Kryptonian sentinel robots which were strong and fast with them defending the Fortress of Solitude.

In other media

The Robot in Superman: Doomsday.
A Super-Bot in Superman vs. the Elite.

Television

  • In Superman: The Animated Series "Legacy", Supergirl used and controlled a Superman robot along with one that resembled Clark Kent in order to maintain his existence on Earth when he had been secretly kidnapped by Darkseid though Lex Luthor determined its mechanized nature.
  • In Justice League "A Better World", such robots were used by the Justice Lords of an alternate Earth where they were used to maintain their version of Arkham Asylum populated by Batman's rogues gallery. These lobotomized prisoners were kept contained by the robots and were encountered by the normal Earth's Justice League leading to a battle with Wonder Woman after she failed to give the correct password.
  • In Legion of Super-Heroes "Message in a Bottle", a Superman robot served as a guardian to the Fortress of Solitude though his appearance resembled the Cyborg Superman. This version was still in operation by the 31st century where it aided the time displaced 21st century Superman and the Legion of Super-Heroes to shrink into the Bottle City of Kandor.
  • In Justice League Action, a Superman Robot appeared in the animated television series in the episode "Battle for the Bottle City" where it was a guardian of the Fortress of Solitude that was destroyed by Brainiac who hacked its systems in order to infiltrate the structure. A number of further robots were present in the Fortress where they attempted to stop Brainiac but were defeated with ease.

Films

  • In Superman: Doomsday, a Superman robot maintained the Fortress of Solitude and provided information on the creature known as Doomsday. The same machine rescued Kal-El's comatose body from Lex Luthor's building after his apparent death and brought him back to life as well as nursed him to full health. The robot was voiced by Tom Kenny and simply referred to as "The Robot".
  • In All Star Superman, the Superman Robots follow a similar role as the comic where the majority work to fight against Solaris whilst one remains behind at the Fortress. A difference between their comic version is that their film counterparts have numbers on the symbols on their chest.
  • In Superman vs. The Elite, the robots make an appearance as faceless humanoid machines with Kal-El's crest on their chest. They were shown to operate the Fortress of Solitude and its systems. When the Elite appeared, the robots were shown to access information on the threat and provided statistical information for him. During his final confrontation with the Elite, Kal-El enlisted the aid of the Superman Robots to demonstrate the danger of a complete loss of control as he seemingly attacked his foes without any mercy. Though members of the Elite were seemingly killed, in actuality the Superman Robots were being used to save them. They similarly mitigated the damage due to their enhanced speeds to rescue people that could have died from collateral damage in the fight at Metropolis. Through such means, Lois Lane survived when one of the robots saved her from falling debris. All the saved people and the robots appeared to the depowered Manchester Black thus showing that his ruthless approach in combating threats was not the way that should be followed. In addition, it was stated that one of the robots met and spoke to Bunny where it promised her a means to return to her own dimension if she secretly helped Superman in his plan which the sentient starship agreed to do so.

Video games

Superman androids alongside Cyborg in his ending in Injustice: Gods Among Us.
  • In Injustice: Gods Among Us, the Cyborg ending shows that Victor worked with the Insurgency forces in battling the evil Superman's regime by attacking the Fortress of Solitude. This led to Cyborg incorporating Kryptonian technology into his cybernetics to the point that he took control of the Fortress's robots and used them to dismantle the One Earth forces.

Appearances

  • World's Finest: v1 #49 (1949)
  • Superman's Girl Friend, Lois Lane v1: #30 (1962)
  • Action Comics:
  • Superman/Batman v1:
  • Justice League of America v2:

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