Supervillain Origins: Metallo

A character dating back to 1942, he was originally introduced under a separate Golden Age incarnation. However, the character was completely re-invented for the Silver Age and re-introduced as journalist John Corben. A killer who experienced a car accident, he was found by an elderly scientist who replaced all of his body parts with metallic ones. Constantly requiring uranium to survive, he took on a crime streak, eventually seeking out the power of Kryptonite, butting heads with Superman in the process. Join WatchMojo.com as we explore the comic book origins of John Corben, otherwise known as Metallo.
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Supervillain Origins: Metallo


This man of metal is one of the few who that can throw it down the man of steel. Welcome to WatchMojo.com, and today we will explore the comic book origins of John Corben, otherwise known as Metallo.

As with most comic book characters, there are often re-imaginings and different versions to a character’s past. We have chosen to primarily follow the storyline that unfolded in 1959’s Action Comics #252.

A character dating back to 1942, he was originally introduced under his Golden Age incarnation, spelled with only one “l”. In this version, he was a scientist turned criminal named George Grant. Having created a robotic suit of armour and a super strength serum, he was ultimately defeated by Superman.

Following this, the character was completely re-invented for the Silver Age. Re-introduced as journalist John Corben, he was a man who moonlighted as a thief.

Having been found out, he killed an embezzler, believing himself to have committed the perfect crime. However, Corben then lost control of his car while fleeing the scene of the crime, and careened off a cliff.

Found by an elderly scientist, he recognized that Corben’s body was beyond repair. Taking Corben back to his lab, the professor went ahead with replacing all of his body parts with metallic ones.

When Corben finally awoke from his coma, he was told that he had been given an indestructible all-metal body covered in rubber skin, while retaining only his organic brain. It was also explained that uranium powered his new synthetic heart, and that each capsule would only last a single day.

Before the scientist could tell him about the alternate long-term power source, a rockslide crashed into the house, causing the professor to have a stroke.

Leaving his savior behind, Corben quickly realized the extent of new super strength.

The very next day, Corben began working for the Daily Planet. Meeting the news team, Clark Kent was surprised by Corben’s iron tight grip, and pretended to be harmed, as to avoid suspicion of his Superman identity.

After immediately trying to romance Lois Lane, Corben realized that he was dangerous low on fuel.

While a distress call led Superman away to help a Nuclear Submarine, Corben decided to raid the Metropolis Research Lab to refuel.
After breaking into the vault, he decided to conduct several other raids to stockpile the element, before news got out that Uranium was being stolen.

In the aftermath, the media aptly concluded that no human could have conducted the crime, and assumed it must be the work of an indestructible robot, which they named “Metallo”.

Later, when Corben ran into Lois Lane, he got between her and the mob’s attempt on her life, inadvertently deflecting their bullets. With Lois assuming he was Superman, she professed her love.

Corben then decided to raid the fort where the remaining Uranium was moved, albeit with his moustache shaved off and wearing a replica Superman costume.

Escaping with his prize as the real Superman arrived, the true hero used his super-breath to blow the Uranium out of the getaway car.

Before Superman could apprehend the villain, he was distracted by a sudden emergency nearby.

Escaping, Metallo re-emerged at the professor’s lab, asking about the second power source. Given a small sample of Kryptonite, he decided to use it to set a death trap, using it to help him collect a large portion from an Exhibit Hall.

While Superman fell into the trap, which he easily overcame, Metallo stole his prize. Turning out to be a fake prop, he died when he arrived at Lois’ apartment hoping to woo her with his Superman costume.

In the years that followed, Metallo has been re-introduced to the Superman series, most prominently as a soldier who was part of a military experiment. He also finally attained a Kryptonite core, gaining the ability to emit Kryptonite radiation from his chest, becoming on of Superman’s deadliest foes.

While the character continues to feature in the comics, he has also appeared in various media, including both live action and cartoon appearances.

Are you a fan of this Kryptonite fuelled supervillain? For more geek powered comic book origins, be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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