John Corben was an unscrupulous reporter who worked in the Metropolis area. While driving his car, Corben was involved in a terrible accident and was nearly killed. His broken body was taken to the laboratory of Professor Vale who replaced Corben's failing limbs with a super-strong metallic alloy. He replaced his heart with a surrogate pump made of Uranium and covered the endoskeleton with a foam-latex sheathe resembling human skin. The operation proved successful, but soon after, Professor Vale suffered from a mild stroke.
Dubbed Metallo, Corben began his new life – a life of crime. Metallo's Uranium heart would only last for one day before it needs to be replaced, so Metallo began breaking into various facilities to steal more Uranium. Whenever he felt his Uranium stores running low, Metallo became weak and dizzy.
The recovering Professor Vale, meanwhile, discovered that Kryptonite could work just as effectively at powering Metallo as Uranium, but with the added benefit that it would no longer need to be recharged. Metallo had Vale implant a Kryptonite sample from Vale's house safe into his chest. Metallo learned that Kryptonite could also destroy Superman. Certain that Superman would likely try to arrest him for his recent crimes, Metallo decided to use the power of his Kryptonite heart to strike the first blow against the Man of Steel.
Superman baited a trap for Metallo by running an article in the Daily Planet to announce the public display of a Kryptonite meteoroid in an exhibition hall. The lure worked too well, as Metallo incapacitated Superman with the Kryptonite heart given to him by Vale before exchanging it for the K-rock in the exhibit. Corben then returned to Lois Lane's apartment, where he planned to kill her for realizing that he was actually Metallo, but the power supply of his robotic body ran out, giving him a "heart attack" and killing him instantly. Unbeknownst to Metallo, the Kryptonite in the exhibition hall was an ordinary rock coated in phosphorescent green paint to resemble Kryptonite, and this subterfuge ultimately spelled Metallo's doom.
Metallo's legacy did not die with him. On an occasion when Superman and Clark Kent were split into two separate people for 48 hours by Red Kryptonite exposure, the fully human Clark Kent persona was converted into a Metallo-type K-powered cyborg by Lori Lemaris and Atlantean scientists after being inflicted fatal injuries by a couple of reckless police officers. An alien shapeshifter took Metallo's form, along with those of other deceased super-villains Composite Superman and Zha-Vam, as part of an elaborate trick played on Superman. Years later, Corben's brother Roger allied with SKULL and was transformed into a second Metallo to threaten Superman. As the new Metallo, Roger fought Superman a number of times.
After the Crisis on Infinite Earths, John Corben's history as a New Earth native was rewritten. Although Corben's origin as a cyborg and nemesis of Superman remained similar to the version of events on Earth-One (with several notable differences), he survived past his first encounter with Superman to menace him for years to come, also retroactively erasing Roger Corben's entire history as Metallo.
Powers and Abilities
- Cybernetic Enhancement
- Power Loss: Without either Kryptonite or uranium as a power source, Metallo would lose consciousness and die.
- Power Limitation: Without Green Kryptonite, Metallo's body needed one uranium capsule a day to keep him alive.
- This version of Metallo, including all history and corresponding appearances, was erased from existence following the collapse of the original Multiverse in the 1985–86 Crisis on Infinite Earths limited series. Even though versions of the character may have since appeared, this information does not apply to those versions.
- Metallo originally appeared in the Superman comic strip in December 1958 before being brought into the comic books in Action Comics #252.
- John Corben's brother Roger later became the second Metallo.
- The Earth-One John Corben version of Metallo appears in the second story set in the Silver Age reality Superman was cast into during the Dominus Effect stories published in Adventures of Superman to weaken Superman and all the citizens of Metropolis that were given Superman-like powers with his Kryptonite heart, only to be stopped by Dan Turpin.
- 4 Appearances of John Corben (Earth-One)
- 2 Images featuring John Corben (Earth-One)
- Quotations by or about John Corben (Earth-One)
- Character Gallery: John Corben (Earth-One)
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