A robotic man with a green glow coming from his chest. Superman on his knees, sick and bleeing. A huge gorilla stands in the background.

Metallo (left) and Titano exposing Superman to lethal Kryptonite radiation. From Action Comics Annual #10 (March 2007). Art by Art Adams.
Publication information
Publisher DC Comics
First appearance Action Comics #252 (May 1959)
Created by Robert Bernstein
Al Plastino
In-story information
Alter ego John Corben
Team affiliations
Notable aliases Metal Zero (Metal-0)

Skilled mercenary trained in military tactics.
Projection of Kryptonite energy from power source in chest.
Cyborg body grants:

  • Super strength, durability and invulnerability
  • Imperviousness to pain
  • Immortality

Metallo (John Corben) is a fictional supervillain appearing in comic books published by DC Comics, commonly serving as an adversary of Superman. He is usually depicted as a cyborg with a kryptonite power source, which he uses as a weapon against Superman.

In 2009, Metallo was ranked as IGN's 52nd Greatest Comic Book Villain of All Time.[1]

Publication history

Metallo first appeared in Action Comics #252 (May 1959) and was created by Robert Bernstein and Al Plastino.

Fictional character biography

The Golden Age Metallo

Cover of Superman Family #217 (April 1982). Artwork by Rich Buckler (pencils) and Dick Giordano (inks).

The Golden Age Superman battled an unnamed scientist calling himself "Metalo" who wore a powered suit of steel armor.[2] Years later, Superman encountered the villain a second time.[3] Metalo (now named George Grant) had a new suit of armor and had also taken a serum to increase his personal strength to superhuman levels. He exposed Superman to a ray that reduced the hero's power significantly and that gave Metalo superior strength in their first battle. Superman engaged in a lengthy regimen of exercise and training to restore his powers and returned to easily defeat Metalo.

First Silver Age Metallo

A different Metallo appeared as Jor-El's robot to battle Superboy, in Superboy #49 (1956).

John Corben

John Corben was originally a journalist (and secretly a thief and murderer) who had just committed what he thought was the perfect murder. While fleeing from the scene of the crime, Corben suffered a near-fatal accident that mangled his body beyond repair. An elderly scientist, Professor Vale, happened to come upon Corben, and used his scientific skill to transfer Corben's brain into a robotic body covered by a fleshlike artificial skin. Corben discovered that his power source, a capsule of uranium, would only last a day, but was told by Vale that kryptonite would provide him an indefinite power supply.[4]

After obtaining a job with the Daily Planet, Corben briefly tried to romance Lois Lane, while deciding that he would use his powers to eliminate Superman, the one person who might expose his criminal deeds. After setting a kryptonite death-trap for Superman, Corben stole what he thought was another sample of kryptonite from a museum as a new power supply, not knowing it was in reality a fake prop; this mistake caused him to die, just as he was about to kill Lois Lane for discovering that he was not Superman (he had pretended to be him, being super-strong and invulnerable as a cyborg) Superman eventually escaped from the kryptonite trap, and arrived just after Metallo (John Corben) died.(Action #252, may, 1959)

The Bronze Age Metallo

A second Metallo, John's brother Roger Corben, debuted in Superman #310 (April 1977) by Curt Swan and Martin Pasko. This Metallo was created by a secret organization named "Skull" that transferred Roger's brain into a new robotic body so that Roger could get revenge on Superman for his brother's death. Like the previous Metallo, this one was also powered by Kryptonite, although this newer version wore orange and green armor, as well as a green helmet to conceal his "new" identity that he had created using plastic surgery (which turned out to be WGBS Staffer Martin Korda).

This version of Metallo returned throughout the Bronze Age. His final appearance was featured in Alan Moore's "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow" (1986).[5]

The Modern Age Metallo

Metallo as drawn by John Byrne in Superman (volume 2) #1 (January 1987).

After John Byrne rewrote Superman's origins in the 1986 miniseries The Man of Steel, Metallo was also given an altered backstory.

In this version, John Corben was a small-time con man who was fatally injured in a car crash, but to his luck, Professor Emmet Vale happened to pass by. Professor Vale was a pioneer in robotics and erroneously believed that Superman was the first in a wave of superpowered Kryptonian invaders after recovering Superman's ship and mistranslating Jor-El's message to his son. Vale transplanted Corben's brain into a robotic alloy body, which was powered by a two-pound chunk of kryptonite, and instructed him to kill Superman. Metallo, now Corben's new moniker, thanked Vale by snapping his neck and killing him.

Despite ignoring Vale's commands, Metallo came into conflict with Superman on various occasions, largely due to his continued activities as a petty thug. Metallo later lost his kryptonite heart to Lex Luthor, though back-up life support systems allowed Metallo to reactivate himself and escape. He remained a thorn in Superman's side and was powerful enough to cripple the Doom Patrol. Still, the Indian-born hero who called herself Celsius did blow him apart with her thermal powers. Metallo later received a major upgrade via an unholy bargain with the demon Neron. As a result, Metallo was able to morph his body into any mechanical shape he could imagine (turning his hands into guns or "growing" a jet-pack from his back) and project his consciousness into any technological or metallic device. He could also grow to monstrous size. During one battle, his gigantic fists were separated and later turned into housing by other superheroes. In another incident, Metallo was rendered more insane by the Joker and used his height to destroy an elevated train of commuters.

As Superman and others learned on various occasions, the most effective way to neutralize Metallo was to remove his (largely invulnerable) head and isolate it from other metallic items.

In Superman/Batman #2 (November 2003), Lex Luthor fabricated evidence implicating John Corben as the criminal who shot and killed Thomas and Martha Wayne, the parents of Bruce Wayne.[6]

Superman: Secret Origin

In the 2009-10 miniseries Superman: Secret Origin, (which retells the origins of Superman and his supporting cast), Metallo is Sgt. John Corben. He serves under Lois Lane's father, General Sam Lane. General Lane is trying to push his daughter, Lois into a relationship with Corben. Though they had one date, she does not return his feelings for her. Corben is next seen signing up for a military option to neutralize Superman (ostensibly with the help of a powersuit built by LexCorp). However, in his first encounter with Superman, a stray bullet hit the Kryptonite rock inside the suit, leading to a disastrous energy cascade within the battlesuit which almost killed Corben. But through the efforts of Lex Luthor and a crack team of scientists, Corben survived, part-man, part-machine, with the Kryptonite rock functioning as his new heart. Driven by a hatred for this alien invader, he became the villain known as Metallo. Metallo subsequently attacked Superman again, now wearing a green, orange and red armor in a rampage which endangered not only the citizens of Metropolis, but his own fellow soldiers. He was defeated by Superman once more.

The New 52

In the rebooted continuity of "The New 52", John Corben is under the command of General Sam Lane.[7] General Lane tells Corben to talk to Lois Lane, when she keeps questioning where Superman is. It is implied that Corben and Lois once had a relationship. When Superman escapes from the military's custody, Corben is seen enlisting in what appears to be a military project co-opted by Lex Luthor, General Lane, and young scientist Doctor John Henry Irons to go against Superman called "Project Steel Soldier".[8] Corben is seen in the "Metal 0" suit with scientists, mostly Irons, trying to help him. He continues believing that he did it for the affection of Lois and when the robotic needles are in his head, Metallo takes control and his heart bursts. Metallo then screams "Where is Superman?"[9] Although the attack on Superman succeeds, Metallo is revealed to have been subverted by Brainiac as part of his own plans, and his rampage is defeated when Doctor Irons uses an armoured suit of his own to fight Corben and upload a computer virus that he designed in the event of such a situation.[10] After escaping and still under Brainiac's control, Corben continued to fight Superman[11] until Superman was able to reason with Metallo to fight Brainiac's influence due to his feelings for Lois Lane. In doing so, Corben attacked Brainiac until Superman was able to defeat the villain, but he subsequently fell into a coma and was taken back by the army. It was revealed that the armor was keeping him alive thanks to the alien technology, but without a heart he would soon die. General Lane told his scientists to find a way to save him since he helped to save Metropolis. He was later given a Kryptonite heart to keep him alive since it was the only energy compatible with his cybernetics.[12] After thirty-one months on vegetative state, Corben was brought back with a shard of kryptonite and back to active duty in U.S. Army, but since his actions caused the death of hundreds of civilians, General Lane tried to kill him by exploding the plane he was being carried on. He survived, and sought vengeance on Lane at his base, only to be confronted by an upgraded soldier like himself " Metal-2.0". When Corben proves too much, Metal-2.0 activates his self-destruct mechanism, hoping to destroy Corben along with himself. However he is saved by the Scarecrow, and offered a place in the Secret Society of Super Villains, now calling himself Metallo. In Forever Evil, Ultraman rips off his Kryptonite heart, because of his addiction to the mineral.[13]

Powers and abilities

Metallo’s metallic body offers him a high degree of protection from physical and energy attacks. He has enhanced abilities. Metallo no longer needs to eat, sleep or breathe. His brain is hermetically sealed inside a shielded alloy skull that has its own power supply. When he was first created he was powered by a Kryptonite heart. Additionally, as a result of his cyborg body, Metallo possesses superhuman strength and speed, enough to pose a challenge and even a threat to opponents such as Superman (in that case, he also takes advantage of the weakening power of kryptonite besides his own strength).

Metallo sold his soul (or what was left of it) to Neron in order to gain the ability to absorb any mechanical or metal object he touches. He can transform any machine into an extension of his exo-skeleton (an ability similar to the Cyborg Superman).

Brainiac 13 upgraded Metallo to tap into light spectra and energy frequencies. Metallo also used the technology to upgrade his body to monolithic proportions.

He is also occasionally portrayed as having a liquid metal-based exoskeleton, possessing the ability to morph parts of his body, specifically his limbs, into different weapons or tools, such as chainsaws, shovels, hammers, etc.

Other versions

In other media



  • John Corben appears in the episode "The Adventures of Supergirl," portrayed by Frederick Schmidt.[18] He was initially hired by the then-arrested Lex Luthor to assassinate his sister Lena Luthor to prevent her from rebranding Luthor Corp. His first two attempts to kill Lena fail due to the intervention of Supergirl and Superman and his third attempt is foiled by Alex Danvers and Lena who shoots Corben when he tries to take Alex hostage. While being sent to the hospital, he is intercepted by Project Cadmus who perform an experiment to convert him into Metallo. Then they unleash him on Supergirl and Superman.
  • Aside from Corden, the second-in-command of Project Cadmus' director Dr. Gilcrist (portrayed by Rich Ting) was also subjected unwillingly to be the second Metallo model.



Video games



His DC Universe Classic figure is a Collect N Connect figure in Wave 5 featuring the Riddler (Head & Torso), The Atom (right arm), The Eradicator (left arm), Amazo (right leg), and Black Lightning (left leg).

See also


  1. "Video Games, Wikis, Cheats, Walkthroughs, Reviews, News & Videos - IGN". 2014-10-21. Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  2. World's Finest Comics #6 (Summer 1942)
  3. Superman Family #217 (April 1982)
  4. The DC Comics Encyclopedia. Dorling Kindersley Limited. 2004. p. 201. ISBN 0-7566-0592-X.
  5. Superman Vol. 1 #423
  6. Superman/Batman #2
  7. Action Comics Vol. 2 #1 (September 2011)
  8. Action Comics Vol. 2 #2 (October 2011)
  9. Action Comics Vol. 2 #3 (November 2011)
  10. Action Comics Vol. 2 #4 (December 2011)
  11. Action Comics Vol. 2 #7 (March 2012)
  12. Action Comics Vol. 2 #8 (April 2012)
  13. Forever Evil #3
  14. Superman: Red Son #3
  15. "GCD :: Issue :: Tales of Suspense #16". Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  16. Justice #4
  17. Mitovich, Matt (2009-06-17). "Smallville Casting Exclusive: Brian Austin Green Is Metallo! - Today's News: Our Take". Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  18. Abrams, Natalie (August 30, 2016). "Supergirl casts Superman villain Metallo — exclusive". Entertainment Weekly.
  19. "The World's Finest". Retrieved 2011-01-18.
  20. Harvey, James (2011-09-28). "Warner Home Video Announces Voice Cast For "Justice League: Doom" Animated Film". Retrieved 2011-09-27.
  21. Jay Jayson. "Metallo Was Originally Planned As Villain In Man Of Steel Sequel". Retrieved 2016-02-19.
  23. DC Universe Online at the Internet Movie Database
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