Machines can be our best friends -- or they can be our worst enemies. That’s especially true in the DC Universe, which is packed full of a wide variety of robots, many of whom have personalities and powers as appealing as any organic life form. Here are 5 of our favorite…
The Metal Men were a group of heroic robots created by Dr. Will Magnus, who wound up developing human personalities. Each of these six -- Lead, Tin, Iron, Gold, Mercury, and Platinum -- has a different set of abilities based on the metal they’re named after. Their personalities were so complex that Platinum developed romantic feelings for her creator Dr. Will Magnus. The Metal Men’s personalities come from their responsometers, the robotic equivalent of a soul. The Metal Men have been destroyed a few times, but Dr. Magnus has always been able to recreate their bodies. You can check out the Metal Men in their hilarious DC Nation Animated Shorts.
Originally appearing in Justice League of America #64 (written by Gardner Fox and penciled by Dick Dillin), the Red Tornado was an android created by scientist T.O. Morrow to infiltrate and destroy the Justice Society of America. Red Tornado ultimately rejected his master and helped the heroes take him down. Red Tornado was allowed to join the Justice Society and later the Justice League. "Reddy," as his teammates called him, became curious about humanity and adopted the human identity John Smith. As John Smith, he married a woman named Kathy Sutton and adopted a refugee named Traya. It was later revealed that Red Tornado was an air elemental who suffered from amnesia after being fused with his android body. Forever wrestling the triple identity crisis of an elemental, an android, and a man, Red Tornado remains one of the most respected members of the DC Super Hero community. Red Tornado can be seen working as a mentor and chaperone for the next generation of heroes in the animated series Young Justice.
Amazo is an android who has the unique ability to absorb the powers of any superhero or villain. Amazo was built by Professor Ivo in Brave and the Bold #30 (written by Gardner Fox and penciled by Mike Sekowsky), in which he fought the Justice League, draining and mimicking their powers. Although the League was able to defeat Amazo, he’s returned many times, often in a new upgraded body. Taking things to the next level, an "Amazo Virus" was engineered, causing whoever contracted it to the temporarily gain super powers, before they completely lost control to the pathogen. Although the virus was neutralized, the original Amazo remains a threat to the World’s Greatest Super Heroes. Check out Amazo in the Justice League episode “Tabula Rasa”.
Created in the 853rd century, the third Hourman is more than your run-of-the-mill android. Hourman was built by Tylerco, with the help of the first Hourman Rex Tyler. Rex’s genetic makeup was added to Hourman’s body, so the android took the name Matthew Tyler. Because he was created in the far future, Tyler has abilities far greater than any modern robot. He’s known as an “intelligent machine colony,” because his body can rebuild itself from even the smallest pieces. Thanks to his time-vision, he’s able to perceive events from the past and future, which comes in handy during a Crisis. Using his “hour of power” ability, Tyler can manipulate the fabric of time itself, although he choses to limit his use of that power because of how dangerous it is. You can read his first appearance in JLA #12 (written by Grant Morrison and penciled by Howard Porter).
Cliff Steele was a race car driver whose body was destroyed in a deadly crash. In an unconventional move, Dr. Niles Caulder saved Cliff’s life by placing his brain in a robotic body. Cliff joined Niles' group the Doom Patrol, and soon became known worldwide as Robotman. The only organic part of Robotman’s body is his brain, which means he can be taken apart and reconfigured, and survive the most extreme conditions. At times, when Cliff has taken a beating, he’s simply upgraded his robot body. Robotman may look like a machine on the outside, but there’s no mistaking his temperament for that of a human. To learn more about Robotman, watch the DC Universe original series Doom Patrol, and read the Doom Patrol comics on which it is based!