- I'm not a sophisticated kind of guy. I couldn't think of one clever way to stop this guy, so I just trusted to mindless violence.
- — Robotman src
Cliff Steele was an obsessive daredevil. He engaged in every extreme sporting event he could, from spelunking to racecar driving. He climbed the Himalayan Mountains, rafted down the Amazon River, and spent six months living in a tribal African village.
At one point in his career, Cliff became involved in the NASCAR circuit. He became a professional racecar driver and participated in the Indianapolis 500. The Indy 500 proved to be Cliff's final race however. During the race, his car slid through an oil slick and toppled over. The car exploded irrevocably destroying Cliff's body. A brilliant surgeon by the name of Doctor Niles Caulder volunteered to lend his assistance in the hopes of saving Cliff's life. Although his body was destroyed, Caulder managed to save Cliff's brain. He transferred the brain into a cybernetic body, and Cliff became known as Robotman. Caulder made arrangements so that his participation in the surgery remained completely anonymous.
When Cliff awakened in the hospital bed, he soon learned what had become of him. Faulty wiring inside of the Robotman systems had an adverse affect on Cliff's brain, driving him insane. He flew into a rage and began rampaging throughout the city streets. Niles Caulder eventually approached him and offered to cure Cliff of the affliction that was driving him to lunacy. He finally calmed Robotman down long enough to perform the operation.
After the operation, Caulder offered Cliff a new lease on life. He asked him to become part of a special team of misfits dedicated towards the fight against evil. Joining with Negative Man and Elasti-Girl, the three new heroes became the first Doom Patrol.
Madame Rouge teams up with a former Nazi U-boat commander named Captain Zahl. Zahl and Rouge pilot their submarine to the the DP's secret island base. Zahl blames Niles Caulder for his disability and wants to kill him, but Rouge wants the Doom Patrol left alive so they can continue to suffer unending humiliation. Zahl launches several weapons designed to counter each of the Doom Patrol members' special abilities. He then tells them that he has planted a bomb in a small fishing village in Maine named Codsville, population: 14. He has a second bomb ready to destroy the Doom Patrol's island. He leaves it to the Doom Patrol to decide which bomb he shall detonate – confident that they will elect to save their own lives rather than that of fourteen strangers. Surprisingly, the Doom Patrol decide to sacrifice themselves rather than risk the deaths of the people of Codsville. Zahl pushes the plunger and the island explodes, killing the Doom Patrol.
It was later revealed that Steele had survived the blast, barely. Doc Magnus of the Metal Men outfitted him with a new robotic body to replace his old one. He eventually returned to a body identical to his original Robotman form. Steele's human brain was later seemingly destroyed, but his mind had been preserved in an electronic form, leading him to question whether he was still the real Cliff Steele or simply a copy.
- Cybernetic Enhancement: All of Robotman's powers originate from his cybernetic components. The outer body shell is formed by multiple layers of special flexible ceramic metal.
- Adhesion: Magnetic plates allowing him the ability to scale metallic surfaces with relative ease.
- Superhuman Durability
- Superhuman Stamina: Emergency oxygen supply and mercury power batteries.
- Superhuman Strength Robotman possesses extreme levels of super-strength, he is shown to be able to draw blood from the powerful Equus.
- Thermokinesis: Heat coils on his palm plating allowing him the ability melt dense material with a touch of his hands.
- Hand-to-Hand Combat (Basic): Cliff was an experienced brawler who easily subdued Mallah.
- Throwing: Cliff fashioned his own robotic limbs into boomerangs on more than one occasion which he threw with devastating accuracy.
- Robotman needs a special food and oxygen in order to keep his human brain alive.
- Voicebox: Robotman once utilized a mobile video transceiver, which he kept mounted on his chest plate. This allowed him to stay in constant communication with the Chief.
- Although this character was originally introduced during DC's Earth-One era of publication, their existence following the events of the 1985–86 limited series Crisis on Infinite Earths remains intact. However, some elements of the character's Pre-Crisis history may have been altered or removed for Post-Crisis New Earth continuity, and should be considered apocryphal.
- Clifford Steele's original height and weight before becoming Robotman was 5'11", 187 lbs. His original eye and hair color was Brown.
- Robotman's original body was invented by Doctor Niles Caulder who constructed it using a special ceramic polymer metal of his own design. Robotman later used an alternate body created by Doctor Will Magnus of the Metal Men. Cliff assumed this form for a brief period of time before reverting to a body more in line with his original design. In later years, the Lexcorp conglomerate began manufacturing cybernetic components that Cliff used as spare parts.
- According to the timeline provided in Zero Hour #0, the Doom Patrol were one of the earliest super-hero teams active during the Silver Age era of comics. JLA: Year One #6 shows the Doom Patrol as experienced heroes working alongside the neophyte Justice League of America.
- Steele had a collection of rare Dixieland recordings.
- In Pre-Crisis continuity, claims to have won the pole-vault for alma matter Dartmouth in 1961.
- My Greatest Adventure #80
- Doom Patrol (Volume 1) #86
- Doom Patrol (Volume 1) #121
- Robotman Unchained Storyline:
- Showcase (Volume 1) #94
- Showcase (Volume 1) #95
- Showcase (Volume 1) #96
- New Teen Titans (Volume 1) #13
- New Teen Titans (Volume 1) #14
- New Teen Titans (Volume 1) #15
- Doom Patrol (Volume 2) #1
- Doom Patrol and Suicide Squad Special #1
- Silver Age: The Doom Patrol #1
- Doom Patrol (Volume 4) #1
- The Official Doom Patrol Index #1
- The Official Doom Patrol Index #2
- Secret Origins (Volume 2) Annual #1
- Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe VII
- Who's Who: The Definitive Directory of the DC Universe XIX
- 331 Appearances of Clifford Steele (New Earth)
- 112 Images featuring Clifford Steele (New Earth)
- 26 Quotations by or about Clifford Steele (New Earth)
- Character Gallery: Clifford Steele (New Earth)
Doom Patrol member