John Corben was a mercenary and hit man who became the cyborg Metallo.
Corben was a top-tier mercenary. At one time he led a team of mercenaries to steal the Lexo-Skel Suit 5000 from LexCorp, a theft staged by Lex Luthor for the benefit of the Regent of Kaznia. Lois Lane tracked the thieves to their ship in Metropolis Harbor. Corben lured her into the ship and then prepared to kill her, but Superman intervened. To give himself a fighting chance, Corben mounted the Lexo-Skel and engaged Superman in a fight that raged across Metropolis, before Superman tore the suit apart.
Although Luthor represented to the Regent's lawyer that he had fulfilled his part of the bargain by letting "the Regent's men" take possession of the suit, Luthor subsequently acted as though Corben had been working for him.
Corben was sent to Stryker's Island Prison, where he refused to give details on his employers. For this reason, his cell featured ample creature comforts and gourmet meals, supplied by an apparently grateful Luthor. A few months after his imprisonment, he was shocked to be told he was suffering from a rare and terminal viral disease found only in South America.
Luthor helped Corben escape, and in exchange for his discretion, offered him a way to avoid death: LexCorp scientists would transfer his mind into an indestructible android body made of metallo, possessing strength equal to Superman's and powered by a Kryptonite heart. Feeling he had nothing to lose, Corben agreed.
At first, he was thrilled with his new abilities, which allowed him to fight Superman nearly to the death. However, when he realized that he could no longer smell, eat or feel, he became disenchanted and abandoned the fight. When the LexCorp scientists confessed that that part of his condition was irreversible, Corben went insane, ripping away part of his artificial skin and adopting the identity "Metallo".
Metallo angrily confronted Luthor, who tried to reassure him that his condition could be fixed, given time. Just then, Superman arrived and revealed that Luthor had deliberately arranged for Corben to be infected with the disease. Metallo turned on Luthor, but Superman intervened, and Luthor's yacht was destroyed, leaving Metallo stranded beneath the sea.
Metallo resurfaced from the ocean on a volcanic island, having suffered amnesia after the explosion. He was found by two children, Sarita and Bobby Felix, who decided he was a "hero" because of his resemblance to their action figures. However, seeing one of their drawings, he remembered Superman, and his identity came back to him. When Superman appeared on the island, helping with the evacuation from a volcanic eruption, Metallo attacked him and nearly killed him. When the kids protested the action of their hero, however, Metallo was distracted enough to allow Superman to throw his Kryptonite heart into the flowing lava. Metallo desperately went after it, but wound up encased in the cooled lava, unable to move or even see. Instead, he focused his mind on his identity, determined not to lose it again.
Metallo was eventually extricated by Intergang, who repaired and even improved his android body, in exchange for which he assisted in a series of bank robberies. When Superman tried to stop him, he severely weakened him with Kryptonite lasers. John Henry Irons, a former employee of LexCorp, helped Superman to defeat him.
Metallo later enlisted Tina, an intern at The Daily Planet, to kidnap Superman. Fortunately, Jimmy Olsen learned of this and went to the Metropolis Junkyard to rescue him. Metallo and Superman battled again in a demolition machine, resulting in Metallo apparently being crushed by falling debris.
Metallo survived once again, however, and returned to Metropolis to join a group of disgruntled villains along with Livewire, Toyman, Kalibak and Weather Wizard. In their fight with the Justice League, Metallo was beaten by J'onn J'onzz, though they apparently succeeded in killing Superman.
When Grodd founded the Legion of Doom, Metallo joined its ranks. One of his missions was to accompany Silver Banshee to the underground world of Skartaris and assist the dictator Deimos in exchange for a large chunk of Kryptonite. However, a League team composed of Green Lantern, STRIPE, Stargirl, and Supergirl, intervened on behalf of Travis Morgan's resistance, in battle with Stargirl Metallo lost an arm. He then battled Supergirl, who grabbed a knife and removed Metallo's Kryptonite heart.
Metallo was taken to a cave where he was briefly interrogated by Green Lantern. At first he refused to talk, but Lantern pointed out that without his heart his body would shut down within the next few minutes, even seconds. Metallo was about to talk, but his mind was mysteriously shut down by an unknown source. His motionless body was later taken to the Watchtower, to see if J'onn could probe some information from his mind.
His final fate is currently unknown.
Powers & Abilities
John Corben was an ordinary man before becoming a cyborg. As Metallo, he possessed superhuman strength and durability. Moreover, because of his Kryptonite battery, he was virtually immortal. His kryptonite battery allowed him to project focused kryptonite radiation and energy blasts from his chest.
When Intergang found him buried in rock and repaired him, one improvement they made was the projection of kryptonite energy from his eyes.
Corben: I think you are jealous of me, because now I'm the real Man of Steel.
Corben: I can't even feel a kiss... What did they do to me?
Metallo: Lois Lane. I'd give you a kiss, if I still had my lips.
Metallo: Well, what have we here?
- "The Last Son of Krypton, Part II"
- "The Last Son of Krypton, Part III"
- "The Way of All Flesh"
- "Action Figures"
- "Heavy Metal"
- "Superman's Pal"
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