The Amazo Virus is a synthetic plague created by Lex Luthor based upon the same principles as Professor Ivo's Amazo android, which was able to mimic any metahuman abilities it encountered through the use of an artificial enzyme. Luthor presented as a method of doing the opposite, suppressing metahuman abilities, specifically the abilities of those who have violent criminal records. However, when he presented it at the White House, it proved to be too controversial and untested, and was ultimately shelved and locked away. Regardless, Luthor did use it at least once, attempting to infect Superman, but Kryptonian disease resistance left him with little effect and no recollection of this having occurred at all. Unfortunately, when Neutron attempted to assassinate Lex Luthor at LexCorp on behalf of a third party, he inadvertently released the virus from containment, causing an outbreak.
When exposed to humans who have received superhuman powers, it apparently first removes their superhuman abilities and immunities, then brainwashes them after a short period of time, turning them into beings that see themselves as the dominant species. This hive mind can be delayed by placing the infected in induced comas. It has no effect on those who are gods. When the virus infected "Patient Zero" in Metropolis, it caused an unplanned mutation to its makeup within the infected individual, a new walking incubator who also caused the virus to become airborne. Due to this mutation, the virus proceeds in three stages in normal, non-powered humans. In stage one, they experience flu-like symptoms. In stage two, the infected develop a seemingly random metahuman power known as a "meta-manifestation", the likes of which include pyrokinesis and black hole creation, bat-like echolocation and sound manipulation, among others. These powers are apparently linked to the user's subconscious, reacting to the individual instead of being purely random. Within twenty-four hours of stage two, the infected enter stage three, where the walls of their cells begin to break down, their blood becomes black as ink that they are prone to vomiting, their hearts burst, and their brains boil, the combined effect of which is that the infected individual dies. After that stage, if death has not occurred, they also become brainwashed much like the infected metahumans.
Soon after Neutron inadvertently released the virus, he was infected, developed every kind of cancer in existence due to his loss of radiation immunity, and was placed in an induced coma, while Luthor managed to get his sister Lena and Bruce Wayne out of the area in time. By twenty-four hours later, Metropolis was under quarantine by A.R.G.U.S., with Aquaman, Flash, Cyborg, and Power Ring also infected and placed into induced comas due to remaining in the city while trying to help the citizens rather than leaving the area to get HAZMAT gear. By that same twenty-four hour period, outbreaks were reported in New York, Boston, and as far west as Central City.
As shown by how Patient Zero, identified as Dr. Armen Ikarus, mutated in response to incoming superhuman entities such as Superman, the virus is even capable of constant mutating abilities in order to organically replicate the abilities of the Amazo Android based upon what superhuman abilities the individual witnesses, such as growing wings to replicate flight or mutating the eyes to replicate heat vision.
After Batman was infected, developing both blindness and a form of echolocation that allows him to project sound waves as a beam from his mouth and to "see" like a bat, Luthor revealed that he had intentionally placed all infected metahumans into comas due to the side effect of the brainwashing, and that Dr. Ikarus' blood was also infected and thus useless to cure the virus. Instead, he needed Superman's blood, which would have the antibodies against the virus that would be more useful. Unfortunately, the "dominance" hive mind of the infected awakened then, prompting the newly awakened, infected metahumans of the Justice League and Neutron to attack Superman, Wonder Woman, Luthor, and the other uninfected humans available.
With the majority of the Justice League infected, Luthor utilized Superman's blood, supplied willingly, to replicate the Kryptonian ability to prevent the isoprin bond, i.e., the virus latching on to the infected person's cells prior to latching on to their DNA. His method for doing so was to create a "proteolytic enzyme" that would consume the virus rather than only having to slow it down. Finally, when Dr. Ikarus was frozen solid by the combined efforts of Superman's freeze breath and Captain Cold's gun, all of those under the effects of the virus were knocked unconscious instantly. In the following twenty-four hours, the infected were in a worldwide quarantine, with A.R.G.U.S. and the Justice League going about distributing the cure, which was turned into a vaccine as well. By the end of the outbreak, dozens had died, but Lex Luthor professed that billions could have died if they had not acted as quickly as they did and solved the problem. However, along with Dr. Ikarus, who had re-christened himself "Amazo", some individuals, both heroes and villains gaining metahuman powers and keeping them as a result.
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