In an Internet filled with overwhelming negativity and pointless hatred of frivolous stuff, it's sometimes necessary to take a step back, take a deep breath and remember why we enjoy comics in the first place. Character Spotlight is a weekly feature showcasing some of the Outhouse's favorite characters that epitomize why we read comics. Maybe you'll learn something, maybe you won't, but regardless we hope you enjoy the Outhouse's Character Spotlight!
So basically the Cyborg Superman's Pre-New 52 origin? It's the Fantastic Four's and the character is literally the DCU's Reed Richards. Yep, four astronauts go into space and their LexCorp shuttle is smacked around with cosmic radiation. When the shuttle crash lands back onto Earth, the four discover they all have super powers.
So you're asking yourself "just makes the Cyborg Superman, aka Hank Henshaw, so gosh darn evil?" Well, that radiation that gave them their powers is also killing them/driving them mad. Hank literally has his skin melting away while feverishly trying to save everyone. The Human Torch wannabe causes some havoc and kills himself before Superman arrives. Not soon after, the Thing wannabe decides the pain of his form is too much and ends his life too. So Hank and his wife are all that's left. Things aren't looking good for either of them until Hank and Superman come upon a cure for what ails them. Unfortunately for Hank it's too late and his decomposing body crashes onto a computer screen. His wife, about to perish, is given the cure and she spends the rest of her life in a mental hospital.
“Wait...that's the end of the story?”
Nope. See, when Hank's body fell, his essence joined with the computer and he became living energy. That essence then started hopping into computer after computer before he was able to build himself a scrawny, horribly deformed robotic body. Said body then goes to the room in the mental ward were his wife is and she jumps out the window (or dies from the shock, or Hank murdered her. We never truly know given how screwed up the mind of Hank is. The outcome regardless is she died). Grief striken, Hank puts his mind into Superman's ship (the very one that carried him from his journey from Krypton to Earth) and uses the technology from that ship to make his own and leaves the Earth.
During Hank's time in space, his mind continues to deteriorate until he becomes mentally unstable and begins blaming everything that had happened to him on Superman (in a way Hank is partly correct in this assumption, since a battle between Superman and the Eradicator caused the cosmic radiation). It isn't long after he meets a like-minded being, Mongul. After some... “persuasion” (he beat the living hell out of Mongul), the two form an alliance with the intention of using Earth to create a new War World and DESTROY SUPERMAN.
However, when returning, they find Superman is already dead (killed by Doomsday). Henshaw then switches his plan and using the technology gained from the Kryptonian ship he once inhabited to create himself a cybernetic body that looks like Superman.. BEHOLD THE CYBORG SUPERMAN!!!
He's an evil Superman. Though unlike say, General Zod, Bizzaro, Composite Superman, and Ultraman, this guy backs up the reputation. He's a bastard with no moral compulsion. He willing and knowingly posed as Superman to destroy the hero's reputation. He then for "lolz" decided to nuke Coast City with the added bonus of destroying the life of Hal Jordan.
This action from the Cyborg Superman send a ripple effect that affected the DCU up until the New 52 reboot. Hal was never the same after Coast City went boom, and Superman? Well, anytime he confronted the Cyborg Superman, it would be a battle he always looked to end quite brutally. This was a fiend that if left unchecked, would be a universal threat.
Another reason is he's an evil Reed Richards. Before Marvel and Wildstorm abused that fact by turning the Ultimate Universe's and other multi-verse Reed Richards evil, Hank Henshaw was the original EVIL Reed. He did things with a style and a gusto that still is unmatched. There's a reason why this relic from the 90's is being brought back in the New 52. He's quite possibly the best Superman villain from that Era.
Origins (Adventure of Superman #465-466, 468) - Hank Henshaw and the crew of the Excalibur take their fated journey into space and are exposed to cosmic radiation. The tragedy only heightens when two of the crew members kill themselves and Henshaw himself almost perishes if not for his newfound powers.
Later on, after reassembling a new body Hank visits his wife only for her to breakdown and kill herself (though we only find out about this after).
Reign of the Supermen (Adventures of Superman #500, 504-505, Superman vol. 2 #78-82, Superman: Man of Steel #25-26, Green Lantern vol. 3 #46, Action Comics #690-691 Author's Note: These issues are the ones pretaining to Henshaw only, not his fellow Imposter Supermen. Click here for the full list.) : Having gone insane due to his journey into deep space, Henshaw poses as Superman and sets out to take out his competition while trying to ruin of the reputation of the great hero. Only for said hero to return in a dramatic fashion (with 90s mullet) to defeat him.
Superman/Doomsday (Hunter/Prey #1-3): The Cyborg Superman teams with Doomsday as he sets his sights on annihilating Apoklips.
Green Lantern/Silver Surfer: Finding a worm hole, the Cyborg Superman travels into the Marvel Universe and ravages a few worlds before catching the eye of the Silver Surfer. A fight erupts between the two and ends when Hal Jordan/Parallax appears with Henshaw turning tail. A quirky fun cameo in a great crossover story that until the New 52 was cannon still.
Parallax: Final Night One-Shot: Hal Jordan finally confronts the Cyborg Superman for the sins of the past. The fight encompasses the first half of the book and gives Hal some final measure of justice for all the lives the Cyborg Superman had slain. This fight will have repercussions later on for Hal Jordan.
Superman/Fantastic Four: The Cyborg Superman meets and has to forcefully team up with three members of the Fantastic Four to save Superman and Reed Richards from Galactus! Plus, when Cyborg Superman meets Reed Richards, this fantastic comic moment happens:
This is why one enjoys comics.
Revenge of the Green Lanterns (Green Lantern vol. 4 #10-13): Hal and Guy Gardner travel to Biot, the homeworld of the android race known as the Manhunters. There, not only do they find Lost Green Lanterns, but the Cyborg Superman, now Grandmaster to the android race! We learn (in a bit of a retcon) that after the encounter between Hal/Hank in above mentioned Parallax one-shot, the Manhunters free the Cyborg Superman. A battle erupts between the organics and the machines with the former winning. However, the Cyborg Superman gets away.
Prelude to Sinestro Corps War (Green Lantern v. 4 #14-16): The Guardians learn of Henshaw's stay with the Source Wall and send off their own, Sayd, to capture the Cyborg Superman. She succeeds and brings him back to Oa for interrogation.
Sinestro Corps War (Sinestro Corps #1, Green Lantern V. 4 # 21-25, & Sinestro Corps Present: Cyborg Superman #1 & Superman Prime #1): Cyborg Superman, after being freed by Sinestro, joins up with his Sinestro Corps and they all go to war with the Green Lantern Corps and Earth's heroes. Henshaw reveals for the first time that he wants to be defeated and put out of his misery. Something the Anti-Monitor is more than willing to do, but of course Henshaw has to play along and help Sinestro secure Earth. The story cements the Cyborg Superman as a terrifying threat again.
Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns (Green Lantern Corps v. 2 #48-51): Following Blackest Night, the Cyborg Superman is at his lowest moment. Even if he could, the Manhunters refuse to let him die and the Black Lanterns ignored him during the Blackest Night Event. That is until a chance meeting with Krona (a rogue Guardian), who tells him there is a way for him to die but the answer lies with the Alpha Lanterns and Gauntlet.
So Henshaw sets up a scheme to lure the Guardian into giving him what he wants, his humanity back. In the end, the Cyborg Superman is slain by the Alpha Lantern named Boodika.
The Tomorrow Memory (Booster Gold #28-31)- A time traveler goes into the past to kill Hank Henshaw before he can become the Cyborg Superman and it's up to Booster Gold to stop her! A nice time travel story where the time traveler tries repeatedly to prevent tragedy from occurring, but some events must transpire for even greater events have to happen.
The Cyborg Superman Can Even Beat Superman:
Been there, done that.
Where the Character is Today:
The New 52 version of Hank Henshaw appeared in Team 7 #5 as the scientist whose behind Project: Spartan (the Wildstrom android). This version is also a colleague of Caitlin Fairchild and a resulting accident results (thanks to Spartan) in Henshaw and everyone in his staff being twisted into cyborg hybrids. Unlike the others, due to his brilliant mind Henshaw retains his. He then though apparently killed by Slade Wilson aka Deathstroke. Henshaw will next appear in his Cyborg Superman persona in Supergirl starting with #22 which comes out July.
That's it for this entry, next time when we take a look at the villains being reintroduced into the New 52 with the Bronze Tiger!