Zeta (DC Animated)
Zeta is a robot cartoon character that features in the DC Animated universe.
Infiltration Unit Zeta was an advanced robot created in the near future by Dr. Eli Selig for the NSA as part of the top secret government run program known as Project Zeta. Its personnel was highly classified but its goal was the creation of an infiltration unit designed to be deployed onto the field for covert assignments and tasked with the elimination of threats. Another one of his designers was a hologram specialist named Dr. Marcus Edmund who built the holo-emitters. Construction of the unit came at the top secret government synthoid laboratory known as Gnosis that was a large ship at sea that could disguise itself as an island. Unknown to anyone, Dr. Self had no desire to have people killed and secretly installed a hidden unit inside Zeta with this component imparting ethics, morality and a sense of right and wrong to him. Selig came to believe the component never activated and was disappointed as he had high hopes for Zeta. He was deployed to investigate the terrorist activities of the criminal organization known as Brother's Day with the NSA believing that the accountant Eugene Dolan being involved in the matter. When Dolan went away for work, Zeta impersonated him and infiltrated his office where he examined his files but found no information on the terrorists. His superiors then ordered him to check his home computer leading to Zeta continuing his impersonated of Dolan with his wife and daughter. Whilst there, Zeta first gained an appreciation for life and also discovered that Dolan was innocent as he was not aware of the illegal actions of his client Titus Sweet following a meeting with him. The infiltration was ended but Dolan returned and discovered an imposter. Zeta was prepared to covertly dispatch Dolan but decided against it as the man had a family and his daughter needed him. Thus, he told Dolan to forget what he had seen and return to his family which was the first mission where he deliberately disobeyed his programmed directive.
After numerous missions, one of Zeta's targets was later discovered to had been innocent of any crimes. This resulted in the synthoid suffering from doubt as he began to question his previous assignments and whether they had been guilty. As such, Zeta went rogue on 5th August 2041 and on the run from the NSA that began to pursue him for capture. By six days into him going rogue, he had escaped into Neo-Gotham where he masqueraded as Miss Martel who was a biology teacher at Hamilton Hill High School. He kept Martel hostage in the basement at her residence partly as a source of information and also to prevent his identity from being discovered. However, through a homing beacon in his body, the NSA managed to uncover his existence forcing Zeta to flee again. The synthoid later returned to the school to abduct Maxine Gibson where he trapped her in a room at the Chipcon factory whilst he masqueraded as her. He intended to use her access to remove the beacon in his body but despite the abduction he would bring her food as he had no desire to hurt her. During this occasion, he revealed to Gibson that he only wanted to be free to which Maxine challenged him on his use of weapons. Though he claimed they were for self-defense, Maxine managed to convince him to choose another way causing him to dispose of his armaments. He was then attacked by Batman where he threw the vigilante onto a conveyor belt that had equipment that could kill him. Maxine, however, urged Zeta to save his life leading Batman to conclude that the synthoid was perhaps not dangerous. The NSA arrived on the scene but Batman took both the infiltration unit and Maxine to safety. Gibson later convinced Zeta not to abduct individuals in order to take their identities but instead use his own database to create a randomized number of disguises. She also helped remove the beacon on Zeta who decided to leave Gotham with Batman observing from a distance. The NSA managed to discover him at the train station with Batman knocking out a number of agents. During this moment, Zeta managed to get the drop on Agent Bennett and take his gun but destroyed the weapon stating that he chose what he wanted to become. Bennett and a number of agents cornered him where they concentrated fire on the synthoid causing him to fall of the ledge seemingly destroyed. Zeta had, however, used his holograms to create a simulated fires on his body and made a new disguise where he disappeared. Batman was present at the time where he detonated some explosives to make the agents believe that the infiltration unit had initiated a self-destruct as he was destroyed allowing the synthoid to roam free for a time.
Upon leaving Gotham, Zeta made a number of attempts at clearing his name by contacting the NSA remotely to speak to Agent Bennet in order to plead his innocence as well as that he had no desire to kill anyone. However, each time he did so, the NSA were able to track his location as they were convinced that this strange behavior from the Infiltration Unit indicated reprogramming rather than sentience. Each time, Zeta managed to escape and went into hiding though on one occasion the synthoid witnessed the life of a runaway named Rosalie Rowan threatened by a gangster. To save her life when he drew his gun, Zeta moved onto the scene thus drawing the NSA leading to the machine being damaged. The robot managed to escape only with the aid of Rosalie who helped restore his systems after a critical piece of wiring came loose. She would decide to accompany Zeta and help him find the scientist who created him as he had the potential of clearing the Infiltration Unit's name. With data from the NSA, he managed to get a partial footage of Project Zeta's design team though was not sure which of them was his creator. Thus, he decided to trace one of the ones he had identified that was Dr. Nelson Arroyo who was working at Dyron Aerospace. Initially, Dr. Arroyo believed the robot to be rogue but Zeta convinced him of his true intentions by saving his life whereupon he revealed that Dr. Selig was the Infiltration Unit's creator. However, he stated that Eli Selig was involved in a classified project but that he did surface from time to time with Zeta embarking on a quest to find him. In his attempt to find Selig, the pair went to the Sorben Institute only to discover that it was many years ago when his creator had worked there. At the time, a young child genius named Bucky used his Inductance Controller to take over the motor functions of Zeta until Ro managed to free him from the boy's control. He later went to the Grandview Science Museum after learning from online sources that Dr. Selig was scheduled to attend a seminar there. However, an incident forced Zeta to save a child preventing him from meeting his creator as the android was forced to flee to escape the NSA.
Afterwards, the synthoid attempted to order parts from a classified NSA website when he intercepted orders to another infiltration unit designated IU7 that was tasked with assassinating a weapon dealer by the name of Roland De Fleures. Zeta's sense of right and wrong made him decide that he could not allow the assassination to take place leading to him travelling to Fleures stronghold to save the weapon dealers life. He warned Fleures and later took on his appearance in order to distract the advanced combat model infiltration unit to help Roland escape. Despite attempts from Bucky to take control of IU7, his remote control failed to accomplish the task as an override went operational preventing the synthoid from being take over. Bucky later used his remote to commandeer the operations of various construction equipment at the scene to attack the hostile infiltration unit that in its single minded pursuit attempt to still kill Roland only for it to be accidently sent into the storehouse filed with weapons that exploded. It was believed that IU7 was destroyed but actually he was temporarily disabled but later restored itself. However, a corruption occurred in his files whilst re-assessing his mission objectives causing him to believe Zeta was his target for destruction. Zeta and Ro later had to escape the NSA on a moving train where they were pursued by Agent West where the Infiltration Unit saved his pursuers life as well as that of the train after its rear car became unstable nearly causing it to crash. Zeta travelled with Ro to the town of Hillsburg where she wanted to visit her foster family in order to find clues to her biological family and learnt of an old picture of her brother.
Ro and Zeta later tracked Dr. Selig to a genetics conference that he was going to attend where they attempted to meet him only to be attacked at the mall by Infiltration Unit IU7. The rival synthoid had targeted Zeta for termination and initially assumed his human guise where the battle heavily damaged the mall with it making the news. News of the incident reached Bruce Wayne who had downloaded the footage but the information he received did not show IU7 but only Zeta leading him to conclude that the synthoid that he had encountered before was responsible for the damage. This led to Batman believing that he had misjudged Zeta and that he needed to terminate the synthoid before he could harm others. In the mean time, Zeta had taken Ro to Arlington Mercy Hospital as she was wounded in the fight only for Batman to believe the Infiltration Unit was attempting to kill her. Batman nearly destroyed Zeta until Ro explained to the vigilante that the synthoid was her friend who attempted to save her. IU7 later arrived thus proving that a rogue android was responsible with both Batman and Zeta attempting to battle the heavily armed Infiltration Unit. They were ultimately able to stop IU7 by tricking him into a high-powered CAT-scan machine with Batman saving Zeta's life whilst IU7 had his internal components ruptured by the machine causing the circuit boards and other parts to be scattered across the room. He later met young millionaire Wade Pennington who was the son of the CEO of Pennington Robotics where he helped save the boy from a ransom attempt by his bodyguard Sven.
After saving people in a firefight, Zeta was chased by NSA agents Lee and West only for all four to be stranded at a nearby Koala Candy factory. The synthoid was pursued by a bounty hunter that threatened the life of Agent Lee who Zeta tried to save and where he managed to save her leading to Lee indirectly saving him from capture by the NSA. Zeta later attempted to assist in Ro finding her biological brother and wanted her to be with her family thus ending her time on the run with him. However, the television network that claimed to had found her brother had simply hired an actor in order to orchestrate a public show for ratings whereupon they intended to secretly send her into a foster home. He would return to warn of the danger despite the presence of NSA operative Bennet who nearly caught the synthoid until Ro saved him whereupon they went on the run once again. Ro and Zeta's hoverbike was later commandeered by Bucky who remotely piloted them to his home in order to enlist their aid in rescuing his parents who had been abducted by Dr. Trannor who wanted help in perfecting the age reversal device. The procedure was flawed as it either devolved subjects or reverted them to children until a destabilization affected the geothermal energy powering the clinic causing its destruction. He later sought out the profile of Dr. Wilhelm in order to infiltrate Cryobin where Dr. Selig was attending an event but Zeta's cover was discovered where during the chaos Dr. Selig was accidently frozen. With the facility on lockdown and the cryo-chamber, Zeta had to remain behind in order to ensure Dr. Selig survived the freezing process and later saved him from the damaged machine but was forced to flee before the military entered the laboratory thus preventing him from fully revealing his nature to Selig.
A group of hackers led by Meg who were seemingly fans of Zeta rescued him from NSA pursuit only to betray him and attempted to strip him of his components. Zeta managed to escape and re-assemble himself but was captured by Agent Bennet who took the synthoid for reprogramming whilst Ro who was not apprehended sought to free him from capture. He was interrogated on who re-programmed him and why he was pursuing Dr. Selig but Bennet would not accept that the synthoid was simply trying to prove his innocence. The technicians also discovered a module located within Zeta that was not part of his original schematics but were unable to remove it. Despite that, they decided to proceed with the erasure of the Infiltration Unit and reprogramming him. This saw Zeta revert to a combat state where he began targeting everyone within his sights until met Ro again whereupon he regained his memory as he had copied his files to combat the deletion process. With Ro, the pair managed to escape the NSA facility where they once again went on the run. Whilst ordering parts to replace a damaged shoulder component, he intercepted a large order for parts being made by IU7 whose CPU had survived and found his way in the home of a young boy called Jason. Jason had placed the chip into his computer which reactivated the synthoid who had reconstructed his body but his activities drew the attention of the NSA. Zeta made his way to the boy's home to save him from IU7 and ultimately managed to remove the chip thus deactivating the Infiltration Unit's body that was taken into custody by Agent Lee who allowed Zeta to escape.
In an effort to track down Dr. Selig, Zeta learnt of another member of the Zeta Project named Dr. Thomas Boyle. He was arriving at the Hub where Zeta intended to ask him the location of Selig but this proved to be a trap set by Boyle. Boyle placed a seal on Zeta's cred card that gave him unlimited funding thus trapping him within the Hub. The doctor promised to free the Infiltration if he stole environmental equipment that he needed for his own project. Zeta ultimately turned against him and showed Dr. Boyle's thefts to the NSA whereupon he fled after he got the seal removed from his cred card. He later saved Ro from a group of psychics that believed her to be a technopath and wanted her to use her powers to aid them in criminal acts. Whilst on the run from Krick, Zeta suffered a system error causing him to shutdown with Ro having to hide him in an abandoned amusement park where she called Bucky for help. However, Bucky was unable to repair Zeta who only re-activated when his memory files re-examined the Dolan infiltration mission whereupon he defeated Krick and went back on the run. He tracked Selig's trail to the Burnette Marine Research Center where Ro decided to go on a submarine tour hosted by Brent that had James Bennett Junior on the craft as well. The submarine was damaged with its pilot knocked unconscious and stranded on the ocean floor where Zeta revealed his true nature to Agent Bennett to save the passengers as both Ro and the NSA agent's son were on the craft. After saving the ship, he managed to evade capture with Rosalie with the two going back on the run.
Whilst on the run at a pictograph convention, they were contacted by Bucky who revealed that he had tracked down Ro's brother who was a text based reporter named Casey MacCurdy. His employer Pat Jensen of Golden World News contacted the NSA to ambush the synthoid but Casey thwarted their plans but this came at the cost of any promotion. MacCurdy in the meantime was posting articles online to showcase Zeta as being a hero after he saved a carriage full of civilians. Afterwards, the NSA managed to track down the hacker that was breaking into their systems and feeding information to Zeta namely the young prodigy Bucky of the Sorben Institute. They took him into custody but he created a failsafe emergency signal in Zeta's holo-emitters should he be captured. Both Ro and Zeta made their move to rescue him when Agent Bennett managed to acquire Bucky's remote where he used it on the synthoid. However, the remote was lost and Zeta helped direct the escape NSA's supersonic aircraft. Bucky later added a new component into Zeta's body to prevent him from being vulnerable to the remote again. Whilst running from Agent Bennett, both Ro and Zeta managed to escape into a No Tech village where he had to hide his true nature. However. during a storm, the dam in the village was overflowing and to save the people Zeta had to show his true form. This caused the villagers to try and destroy him but a flood erupted with Zeta saving the No Tech's leader causing them to accept him. Afterwards, Zeta sought to learn of the hidden module within his systems and with Ro they infiltrated a government debriefing centre for their synthoid operatives who downloaded their memories unto the computers. Zeta thought that he could compare his memories with those at the centre but he seemingly found Dr. Selig. However, this turned out to be the hologram specialist Dr. Edmund who was being blackmailed by Brothers Day to masquerade as Selig so they could destroy Gnosis. Zeta infiltrated the group to reach Gnosis where he met Selig though the doctor was not aware of Zeta being a synthoid. Selig was working on a new synthoid project with these having a semi-organic skin and confessed the true nature of the module in Zeta. Before Zeta could reveal his identity, Gnosis suffered from a terrorist bombing by Brothers Day and Seligs escape craft seemingly crashed into the ocean. A distraught Zeta believed that with Seligs apparent demise that there was no way in clearing his name.
Personality and attributes
In appearance, the synthoid was a gray metallic humanoid with an oval shaped expressionless face and a pair of eyes. This form could be altered into a wide variety of human guises due to the holographic generator allowing Zeta to take a variety of appearances.
Whilst able to blend into populations, initially Zeta lacked the social graces to appear truly human. He was relentlessly cheerful but due to his analytical mind he was unable to understand concepts such as sarcasm or fun. Zeta also tended to take certain phrases literally and not fully understand figures of speech. He tended to be quite trusting of others which made him vulnerable to tricks and deceptions. For a time, he was not convinced that he could trust himself as he saw himself as a weapon until convinced otherwise by Ro. Initially, he was cold and mechanical where he was programmed to assassinate targets. However, during the Dolan infiltration mission, he learnt of the value of life from his target's family and went against his orders to terminate Dolan. Zeta commented that this was the first time when he decided to change and value others.
Zeta's biggest personality achievement was his capacity to distinguish right from wrong. Though created as an assassin, he began to question his actions after one of his targets was deemed innocent causing him to re-evaluate his previous missions. This proved to be the primary reason for his defection from the NSA and him going on the run. He had no desire to kill and resisted attempts to force him to commit such actions. In fact, he went out of his way to save the life of Ro before a criminal could shoot her even when it caused him to be exposed to his NSA pursuers. Furthermore, Zeta saved the life of an arms dealer from an assassination attempt and stated that it did not matter if a person was good or bad but that no one deserved to die. In addition, he saved the life of NSA Agent West by moving him to a different compartment of a train when the rear section became unstable and made his way to dislodge that section of the moving train to prevent it from causing the entire vehicle from falling off the tracks. On another occasion, he stopped a truck full of logs from crashing into a theater. He was also capable of self-sacrifice as he was willing to die alongside IU7 in order to stop the assassination synthoid. Similarly, when he discovered IU7 was being rebuilt in the home of a young boy, Zeta went out of his way to save the child from the rogue machine.
Prior to meeting Maxine Gibson, Zeta tended to follow his programming in terms of infiltration namely that he would abduct individuals in order to masquerade as them. He would keep the actual person captive both to maintain his disguise and as a source of information on their lives so that he could maintain his cover. Despite the captivity, he did claim that he had no desire to harm them and even brought them food to ensure that they stayed alive. This practice ended when Maxine Gibson convinced him to randomize his database of acquired identities allowing him to mask his identity without kidnapping individuals. Furthermore, during any confrontations with the NSA, he was not above acting aggressively such as making use of his personal armaments stored on his chassis. Zeta claimed that he used these weapons for self-defense and maintain his own existence as well as to prevent capture. However, it was Maxine who convinced him to seek another way and prove to others that he was not the weapon he was designed to be by the NSA. Thus, he disposed off his cache of weapons and even refused to fire weapons that he acquired in a fight. In addition, initially, he was not above placing others in harms way in order to protect himself but at the urging of Gibson he moved to save Batman's life after he had thrown the unconscious vigilante on a conveyor belt with heavy machinery.
Ro was a close friend to Zeta and he made attempts to make her happy such as impressing her foster family at Hillsburg. Such was his concern for her that he was willing to leave her company after he felt guilty that she was wounded when she was with him. Similarly, he desired for her to have a happy life and was willing to leave her if it meant that she could find her family. Zeta told Ro that he would miss her but that her meeting her true biological family was important. He was also protective of her as he challenged a man that had hired someone to play Ro's brother and their intentions to put her into a foster home. Zeta was even willing to abandon the machinery maintaining Dr. Selig's body functions whilst in cryo-stasis in order to ensure Ro was not harmed during an explosion. He allowed himself to be captured by Meg and her fellow hackers when they threatened the life of Ro. The pair later met the Finlay brothers and helped them stop a large tornado in Kansas through their Twister-Blaster invention.
During his time with Ro, she would coin a nickname for him and refer to the synthoid as Zee.
Powers and abilities
Due to him being a synthoid, Zeta had a wide range of abilities available to him that were equipped onto his metallic frame. The Infiltration Unit was composed of a titanium metallic skin making him stronger than a human being. As a machine, he was strong and durable with limbs that could extend to considerable lengths. His arms were extendable allowing them to shoot out and grab onto targets in order to scale locations or grab onto an individual. Zeta's finger were able to be used as hooks and were strong enough to penetrate metal. Similarly, claws could extend from his feet in order to root himself to a spot. This allowed him to use them as grappling lines in conjunction with his extendable arms. The synthoids hands were able to shoot out a wire that could link with any computer system and enable him access to them. This same interface allowed him to access and input new commands into low intelligence robots. Similarly, his legs were equally able to extend allowing him to stretch to great heights allowing him to get a better view of the landscape or to move closer to an area for easy access. His body was highly flexible allowing to accomplish feats that were beyond human such as stretching his legs above his head without any difficulty or even move his upper body below his hips. Zeta was designed for infiltration and thus equipped to operate in a wide variety of environments as well as conditions. This included operating in water as he could create a propeller allowing him to move through water at high speeds. He was able to submerge and operate in deep underwater conditions without any great difficulty. His hand was equipped with a cred card allowing him access to a near infinite array of financial resources. Zeta's chassis was able to resist a high degree of extreme heat or even cold air for a short period of time but could not stop its effects over an extended time. He was not designed to cope with extreme weather phenomena such as powerful tornados and thus had to be careful in such conditions. This made him easily survive melee strikes that would normally kill or incapacitate a human. In addition, he was equipped with self-repair mechanisms that were able to repair damaged sustained to his body. This included breaches in his frame and dislodged wiring though certain power lines that deactivated him required external support to bring him back onto operational status. These systems were highly advanced allowing Zeta to repair himself even if his upper torso and legs were severed from one another.
Zeta's mind contained a powerful computer that was not composed of microchips but rather sophisticated neural components. The synthoid's mind contained 100 gigabytes of processing data and a powerful CPU that was a critical component of his intelligence. Such was the extent of his programming that he had extremely advanced firewall protection systems. Zeta was able to quickly copy his own files and memory where he could relocate them to different sectors in his mind in order to stave off a mind erasure procedure. A data access port that linked his systems to a computer terminal was situated on his back. There was one component situated in his head that was not part of his original design. Zeta's brain was able to process meteorological phenomena in order to predict events such as tornados and key weak spots within then. His eyes contained a HUD allowing him to identify individuals and targets. A feature available to his eyes included a zooming in option that allowed him to see distant targets. Similarly, he was able to alter his eye structure in order to complete his disguise that allowed him to fool optical security scanners. Furthermore, his hearing was much greater than a human being allowing him to listen to conversations and make out discussions. Zeta lacked any nose on his face but instead had olfactory sensors located on the top of his head allowing him to 'smell' objects. Initially, for a time, his body was equipped with a homing beacon to allow the NSA to track his movements until this was removed. Through his data access link, he was able to operate complex machinery where he could help maintain their functions if the computers were damaged. An internal power source regulated his temperature within his body that he could use to help stave off freezing temperatures. He could also interface with power conduits in order to shoot out blasts of electricity from his hands and interface with heavy machinery in order to wield them as weapons.
His greatest ability was afforded to him by a holo-morphic generator that allowed him to take on a wide variety of appearances. These ranged from existing people at a scene to others stored in his mind. There did not appear to be a limit on the number of disguises he could take as he was equally able to masquerade as an older man to a young child. Special sensors were needed to penetrate the holographic disguise to reveal the true metallic form beneath it. Though only able to project a disguise over his body, a person that was very close to him could share in the disguise though the appropriate appearance needed to be of a larger human to cover the additional person. Furthermore, Zeta was capable of using the holograms to generate images onto his hands such as being able to view footage. Every disguise he took was kept as part of his holo-morphic records. As he was a machine, despite his human holographic form, he was unable to consume food nor did he had a need for it. His mechanized nature allowed him to record conversations and copy the voices of others flawlessly.
There were a number of tools situated on his body that he could use in the field. His fingers were able to extend a telescopic lens allowing him to see around corners without showing his head. His fingers could also deploy a variety of tools such as the means of opening locked doors or a screw driver. The Infiltration Units arm was able to extend a saw-blade that could be used to cut through enemies or obstacles. The wrist had a small laser cutter that could be deployed for burning his way through large obstacles or eliminate targets. Above his wrists was a slot that opened up into a laser cutter that could burn through most obstacles. Zeta's body had special slots present in it to hold various tools and weapons such as blasters. Normally, he was equipped with a plasma rifle and a long distance grenade launcher but he had disposed of these weapons. A cutter was situated in a slot in his chest that he could use to seal beaches. One of his slots could launch out a clawed metal tendril that latched onto targets thus fixing him at a spot and allowing both of his hands to be used. His repair systems were highly advanced allowing internal wirings and arms to move out of sockets in order to re-attach limbs removed from his body so long as they were within range. Zeta was able to re-assemble himself so long as he was not deactivated and his CPU remained operational. Through accessing the networks, he was able to requisition parts to replace damaged components in his body with these being delivered as part of the NSA's support packages made for their Infiltration Units.
A servo inhibitor was able to shut down his physical functions but his body's automated defense systems targeted any such external breach and eliminated it. Any such external hindrance was targeted by a small laser that destroyed it. Certain types of devices such as an inductance controller were able to remotely control his motor functions. Power transformers were sometimes able to create a flux in-between Zeta's optical sensors and holo-morphic generators causing his holographic appearance to suddenly and without warning change to the most recent image his eyes had seen causing him to lose control over his disguise. Electrical surges were able to cause him to lose control over his holographic appearance and reveal his true form. Certain weapons designed to incapacitate or damage bots were able to harm Zeta.
Bucky added a new component into Zeta's body that was the Variable Inductance Circuit that made the synthoid immune to the effects of the remote that he had built.
- Zeta was an original character created for the DC Animated Universe where he made his first appearance in Batman Beyond in the episode "Zeta" and was voiced by Gary Cole.
- He would later star in his own animated series called The Zeta Project where he was voiced by Diedrich Bader with Eli Marienthal voicing a kid Zee and Scott Marquette a young Zee.
- Batman Beyond: "Zeta"
- The Zeta Project: "Accomplice"