Cyborg Superman

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See DC Comics * List of DC Comics characters * Superman *Superman Store * Superman Gallery


Hank Henshaw is a character, a comic book supervillain from the DC Comics universe and is primarily an enemy of Superman and Green Lantern. He first appeared as the Cyborg Superman during the Reign of the Supermen storyline following Superman's death, but is also known frequently as "The Cyborg". He is not to be confused with Teen Titans member Victor Stone (Cyborg).


Contents

character biography

Left: Hank Henshaw and the Excalibur crew after being exposed to the radiation. Right: Hank Henshaw as his body decays. Art by Dan Jurgens.
Left: Hank Henshaw and the Excalibur crew after being exposed to the radiation. Right: Hank Henshaw as his body decays. Art by Dan Jurgens.


Hank Henshaw first appeared as a crew member on board the doomed LexCorp Space Shuttle Excalibur. In a pastiche of the origin of the Fantastic Four, Hank and the other three members of the Excalibur crew, including his wife, Terri, are exposed to cosmic radiation, causing their shuttle to crash. As a result of their radiation exposure, the human bodies of two crew members were destroyed. However, their minds survive and they are able to construct new bodies out of "cosmic radiation" along with bits of earth and wreckage from the shuttle. Initially, Henshaw and his wife suffer no ill effects from the radiation (though Hank's hair turns white), and the crew travels to Metropolis in the hope of using LexCorp facilities to cure their mutated crew mates. During a brief battle with Superman, the crew member now composed of radiation becomes unhinged and flies into the sun. By this time, Henshaw's body has started to rapidly decay while his wife is beginning to phase into an alternate dimension. With Superman's help, Henshaw is able to use the LexCorp facilities to save Terri. The remaining member of the shuttle crew commits suicide using an MRI booth.

Though Hank Henshaw's physical body has expired, he is able to transfer his consciousness into the LexCorp mainframe. Now able to control technology, Henshaw appears to his wife in a robotic body; the shock of this bizarre rebirth is too much for Terri and eventually leads to her insanity and death by jumping through the nearest window. By this point, Henshaw's electronic consciousness has begun to disrupt Earth's communications networks. Using NASA communications equipment, Henshaw beams his mind into the 'birthing matrix' which had carried Superman from Krypton to Earth as an infant. He creates a small exploration craft from the birthing matrix and departs into outer space alone.

Henshaw spends some time traveling between planets, bonding with local lifeforms to learn about the culture and history of various worlds. Over time, Henshaw becomes delusional and paranoid, believing that Superman had caused the deaths of himself and his wife, then driven him from the Earth. Arriving on a planet controlled by alien overlord and Superman foe Mongul, Henshaw learns of Warworld and forcibly recruits Mongul as part of a plan for revenge against Superman.


Reign of the Supermen

Main article: Death of Superman

With Superman apparently dead after his battle with Doomsday, Henshaw decides to pose as him and tear down his reputation. To that end, the Cyborg claims to be Superman reborn, the result of the hero's body being pieced together and revived with technology. This ruse is helped by the Cyborg using knowledge obtained from Superman's birthing matrix to construct a body that is genetically identical to Superman. When analyzed closely by Professor Hamilton, the Cyborg passes for the real thing, thanks to components within himself that include Kryptonian alloys.

After destroying a Superman memorial plaque in front of the Daily Planet, the Cyborg exiles Doomsday into space, prevents a nuclear meltdown, and saves the President of the United States from an assassination attempt. The White House endorses the Cyborg as the 'true' Superman. When confronted by Lois Lane, the Cyborg claims his memory is "blurry" but he can see a "spaceship on a farm and the name 'Kent'," suggesting that Henshaw may be aware of Superman's secret identity.[4]

Henshaw's arrival as Superman was simultaneous with three others: John Henry Irons, Eradicator (the self-styled Last Son of Krypton), and the modern Superboy.[5] The endorsement of the President ensures that the Cyborg eclipses the rest of the heroes claiming to be Superman's heir. During this time, two cults sprang up around the idea of the return of Superman from the dead, one which deified the Eradicator, and the other venerating the Cyborg, as supporters of both would come to blows over which was the real Superman. Ironically, this was a foreshadowing of a battle yet to come between the Cyborg and the Eradicator as the Cyborg began to move his plans forward.[1]

Destroying Coast City When an alien ship appears over Coast City, the Cyborg attacks and severely injures the Eradicator, allowing Mongul's craft to destroy the city. The Cyborg was then able to convince the White House and the public that the Eradicator is responsible. After tricking and defeating Superboy, Henshaw prepares to launch a nuclear warhead intended to convert Metropolis into a second Engine City.

Superboy is able to escape and warn John Henry Irons, Supergirl, and the resurrected true Superman of the Cyborg's plans. The quartet travels to the site of the former Coast City; Superman, Supergirl, and Steel confronted Mongul and the Cyborg while Superboy stops the missile from hitting Metropolis. While Green Lantern defeats Mongul, the Cyborg lures Superman and the Eradicator to the Engine City main reactor and attempts to kill Superman with the kryptonite that powers the engine. When Henshaw tries to kill Superman with a concentrated blast of kryptonite radiation, the Eradicator intercepts the blast at the expense of his own life. As the Kryptonite energy passes through the Eradicator, the radiation is altered and acts to restore Superman's powers; Superman is then able to easily defeat the already weakened Cyborg.


Return

Hank Henshaw as drawn by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding in Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey #1.
Hank Henshaw as drawn by Dan Jurgens and Brett Breeding in Superman/Doomsday: Hunter/Prey #1.

Before exiling Doomsday into space, Henshaw had installed a device on the monster to allow him to detect if Doomsday were to ever escape. After the destruction of his 'Cyborg Superman' form, Henshaw transfers his consciousness into this device, as Doomsday is "the safest place in the galaxy" for the Cyborg to hide. Doomsday is brought onboard a space cruiser and manages to escape, eventually landing on Apokolips. Henshaw emerges by reconfiguring an armored Apokoliptian trooper into a new body, (which by all accounts had its DNA overwriten with the Kryptonian DNA Henshaw had obtained while in Superman's birthing matrix, and thus still retains a portion of Superman's abilities and still looks the way the Cyborg Superman looked, except for a change in the color of the Cyborg's metallic components) and proceeds to lay siege to the planet alongside Doomsday. The Cyborg successfully took over most of Apokolips, but was destroyed by Darkseid's Omega Beams during a battle with Superman.


Apokolips and Beyond

Darkseid did not kill the Cyborg; rather, the Omega Effect stored Henshaw's consciousness in a small orb, with Darkseid planning to use the Cyborg against Superman at a later date.[7] Darkseid eventually frees Henshaw, with the understanding that Henshaw is to leave Apokolips and never return. Before leaving, the Cyborg integrates himself into some Apokoliptian technology, giving himself a bronze-metal body. The Cyborg eventually aligns himself with an intergalactic tribunal which is seeking to bring Superman to trial for the crimes of his ancestors. Henshaw assists the tribunal in capturing Eradicator, Superboy, Supergirl, Steel, and Alpha Centurion, who had intended to rescue Superman. However, the Cyborg betrays the tribunal and attempted to conquer their planet for conversion into a new Warworld. Superman and his allies stops the Cyborg's plan and, when Henshaw's involvement in the destruction of Coast City is brought to the attention of the tribunal, they find the Cyborg guilty of genocide and sentenced him to death. As an electronic consciousness, Henshaw cannot be killed by normal means and is transported beyond the event horizon of a black hole, where not even energy can escape from the gravity.

Rather than being destroyed, the Cyborg is transported to the Marvel Universe, as seen at the beginning of the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer crossover. The Cyborg destroys a planet in another attempt to recreate Warworld, attracting the attention of the Silver Surfer. Their short battle is interrupted by the arrival of Parallax, who has been tracking the Cyborg for some time, seeking vengeance for the destruction of Coast City. In the confusion, Henshaw escapes and is returned to the DC Universe by the end of the story. Henshaw in his later, less Superman-based costume. Art by Doug Mahnke

The Cyborg encounters Hal Jordan again at the brink of the Source Wall,[8], a nexus of statues that flow vital energy to preserve the Fourth World. Parallax uses his powers to generate representations of the victims of Coast City, which tear the Cyborg's body apart. Jordan then disperses Henshaw's consciousness, and the Cyborg is seemingly destroyed once again.[1]

During a crisis involving the Godwave, Superman (wearing his Blue Energy costume at the time) travels to New Genesis, and encounters Henshaw again. Henshaw has taken part of the Source Wall's structure and has crafted a small world comprised of his memories, which he uses to taunt Superman, before being defeated again. Unknown to Superman, the Cyborg stores his own consciousness in Superman's high-tech containment suit. After Superman returns to Earth, Henshaw escapes and constructs a new body, this time posing as an art teacher at a high school in an attempt to start over. He is a popular teacher, and befriends the blind Asbury Armstrong (daughter of Dirk Armstrong), but ultimately his rage towards Superman causes him to reveal his true identity, and his new body is lost in a fight with Superman. To escape detection, Henshaw stores his consciousness in a clay statue. This statue is later stolen by the Toyman, and the two villains join forces to kill Superman. To this end, the Cyborg designs a machine that will break Superman's energy form down into multiple components and beam them to different points in the galaxy, preventing Superman from reforming. A malfunction in the machine causes Superman to split into Superman Blue and Superman Red, the latter of whom eventually defeats and re-captures the Cyborg.

The Cyborg later attempts to take over Kandor, but fails when he is defeated by Superman and sent to the Phantom Zone. Shortly after Superman Y2K, Henshaw escapes the Zone and attacks Superman, who was suffering from kryptonite poisoning. Henshaw is defeated with the help of the Kandorians and sent back to the Phantom Zone, swearing revenge. However, he is not encountered on subsequent visits to the Zone.


Manhunters

Henshaw returns, in a form approximative to his original body, when he is revealed to be the Manhunters' new Grandmaster.[9] With his influence, the Manhunters have been upgraded with organic material, most notably with blood. On the Manhunter home world of Biot, in sector 3601, Henshaw is holding captive several assumed-to-be-dead Green Lanterns, most of whom appeared to die during the Emerald Twilight saga.

Henshaw has also used Kryptonian technology to upgrade the Manhunters. During the Green Lantern story arc No Fear, Kryptonian robots are seen servicing the Manhunters. Henshaw, the Grandmaster, allowed the Green Lantern Corps to rebuild for unspecified reasons, as a part of his master plan. While Henshaw explains that he first encountered the Manhunters around the time he was imprisoned in the Source Wall by Parallax, it has yet to be revealed how the Cyborg was able to escape the Phantom Zone and take control of Biot. Henshaw is defeated when Biot explodes, destroying most of his body aside from his head.

Henshaw's head is then brought by a Guardian back to Oa so that they can learn of how he was able to take control of Biot, what he has learned from the Manhunters and to learn about "the 52". (referring to the other 51 alternate Earths created during the second Crisis, as well as their own reality). It is also revealed that the Cyborg knows of the 52, though exactly how he came by this knowledge isn't made completely clear. It is stated that he has explored "The Bleed;" the space between dimensions, which could have occurred when he was imprisoned there or when he was imprisoned in the Source Wall.


Sinestro Corps

Henshaw's head is taken by the Sinestro Corps after their invasion of Oa and taken back to Qward. Henshaw is later seen as a herald of the newly returned Anti-Monitor. He reconstructs his cyborg body and replaces the S-symbol on his chest with the symbol of the Sinestro Corps. He now wields ten Qwardian power rings. It is revealed that Henshaw has joined the Sinestro Corps so that the Anti-Monitor can later kill him and allow him to rest in peace.

Henshaw was the focus of the Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Cyborg Superman one-shot that was released on October 3, 2007. In this book, Henshaw and his Manhunters head to Earth to assist the Sinestro Corps in their attack. En route, Henshaw stops leading the Manhunters, which continue to their preprogrammed destinations. As he watches them go, he remembers everything that has happened to him; from their dreadful shuttle accident to his wife's suicide when she sees him in his robot form. He finishes this journey of his mind by going to his wife's grave. He digs her corpse out and rips it into two, shouting that all he wants is not to be with her, but for these memories to fade.

Meanwhile, Manhunters begin an assault on the JLA satellite. Hawkgirl, Black Lightning, and Red Arrow retaliate; however, all three are neutralized when Henshaw assists in the attack and he successfully tampers with the mechanics of the satellite core. As the satellite is thrown out of orbit, Superman appears, seemingly from nowhere, and engages Henshaw in battle. Their fight continues on Earth, while Sinestro transports his crew and his ship from the Anti-Matter Universe. At first Superman seems to have the upper hand, however after two punches, Henshaw strikes with great power and rage, punching him through the Statue of Liberty. By the end, Henshaw has Superman in a choke hold, thinking that the victory is near.

He is later seen briefly in Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Superman-Prime, having presumably been beaten back by the combined strength of Superman, Supergirl, and Power Girl.

When the Green Lantern Corps decides to detonate New Warworld and the Central Power Battery of the Sinestro Corps to destroy the Anti-Monitor, Henshaw allows himself to be trapped behind a shield and exposed to the massive explosion. Before he is destroyed, however, he thanks the Green Lantern Corps.

A small fraction of Henshaw's corpse survived the explosion. The Manhunters were unable to detect his life signs, and were confused without his leadership. Seeking the leadership "programming" of their grandmaster, the Manhunters revived the fragment of the Cyborg Superman, and he sheds a tear when he realizes he is still alive.

Powers and abilities

Following his exposure to cosmic radiation and subsequent "death," Henshaw's consciousness survives in an electronic state, making him virtually indestructible as he can transfer his electronic consciousness into any nearby machine (and even some that are light years away). Henshaw is able to 'inhabit' any machine or technology and manipulate said devices as though they are living metal. He can animate machines, construct any technological device, and control any mechanical system. In addition, Henshaw's 'Cyborg' body possesses a various number of other mechanical sensors, and has the ability to interface with any machine. His technological components can transform into a myriad of weapons and tools - since his first appearance as the Cyborg Superman, Henshaw has consistently manifested his technical half in that manner.

Thanks to his interactions with Superman's birthing matrix, Henshaw possesses knowledge of both Superman's Kryptonian genetic code and Kryptonian technology. This information allows him to construct cyborg bodies with organic portions that are genetically identical to Superman and mechanical components built from Kryptonian (and later, Apokoliptian) alloys. Using Superman's genetic code gives the Cyborg access to all of Superman's powers, such as high levels of superhuman strength, speed, and durability; super acute senses; x-ray, heat/laser, and infrared vision; and ultrasonic hearing, including, Superman's vulnerability to kryptonite radiation, which appeared to weaken both the organic and technological components of Henshaw's body, while also preventing him from altering his body. However, even though his organic half might be mortally weakened by kryptonite, the mechanical components of his body will allow Henshaw to still function, albeit without any of his Kryptonian powers. He may be immune to Kryptonite radiation, as he seemed to suffer no ill effects when he fought a Kryptonite-poisoned Superman (who was also emitting the deadly radiation himself.)

Henshaw's own durability may not be equal to Superman, as he was shown melting and burning up in Earth's sun during a battle with Superman Red, an exposure which the true Superman has survived repeatedly with no ill effects. Henshaw's body had been made out of material he got from toys, however. A full-power strike from Darkseid's Omega Beams has also incinerated Henshaw's body, but it is still unclear exactly how durable he is. The blast hit him while he had already been weakened by a lesser one earlier, and he was blindsided both times because he was already engaged with Superman; no minor distraction itself. It should also be noted that Darkseid's attack occurred AFTER Henshaw incorporated Apokaliptian electronic into his body. It's conceivable Apokaliptian tech is intentionally made vulnerable to Darkseid's powers and thus that Henshaw made himself more vulnerable. However, Darkseid's beams have also teleported victims, so Henshaw may have never been destroyed there at all.

In addition to the powers he has because of his Kryptonian-Cyborg body, he also has been shown wielding, briefly, four or five Green power rings and later four to five Qwardian power rings and as such has access to all the immense powers they bestow. These powerful rings also granted Henshaw the ability to turn invisible for brief amounts of time.

Finally, Henshaw seems to be able to alter his "natural" energy attacks to affect specific foes. He has been able to defeat both Superman and Eradicator with a single blast, on several occasions. Normally he uses a weapon crafted out of one of his arms, but when pressed, he merely uses his eye-beams: either only his mechanical one, or both his Kryptonian eye and cybernetic one simultaneously.

See also

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