Posted by:
Byron Brewer

Brew's Crew: Cyborg Superman



Time again, fair Crew, to embark on another trip through the crazy history of the DCU. Take nothing for canon, because it will change one September afternoon.

Alright, in the New 52 a fully human Hank Henshaw appears as a doctor working for the Advanced Prosthetic Research Centre and colleague of Caitlin Fairchild. He is tasked into reactivating the android Spartan.

Cyborg Superman, Henshaw’s alter ego, is slated to take over Action Comics during Villains Month in September and later move on to harass Supergirl in her mag. So again, canon or no canon?

Henshaw first appeared as a crew member on board the doomed NASA space shuttle Excalibur in Superman #42, and Henshaw and the other crew members were next seen in Adventures of Superman #465.

In a play of the origin of Marvel’s FF, Hank and the other three members of the Excalibur crew, including his wife Terri, are part of a LexCorp-designed radiation experiment that is affected by a solar flare, causing their shuttle to crash. (Clobberin’ time!) As a result of their radiation exposure, the human bodies of two crew members were destroyed. However, their minds survived and they were able to construct new bodies out of cosmic radiation and bits of earth and wreckage from the shuttle, respectively.

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 hopes 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, thereby destroying himself. By this time, Henshaw's body has started to rapidly decay while his wife is beginning to phase into another 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 to tear apart the metallic components of his body. (ew)

Though Henshaw's physical body expired (hang on, folks), he was 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 in a fit of insanity, she jumps to her death from 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. Blast off!

Henshaw spends some time traveling between planets, bonding with local lifeforms to learn about the culture and history of various worlds. Henshaw would later come to believe that Superman was responsible for the tragedy of the Excalibur after learning that around the time of the accident, the Man of Steel had thrown a rogue Kryptonian artificial intelligence (the Eradicator) into the sun. Henshaw believes that this created the solar flare that resulted in theExcalibur crew's transformations.

Over time, Henshaw becomes delusional and paranoid, believing that the Man of Steel had intentionally caused the deaths of himself, his wife, and his crew, 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.

With Superman apparently dead after his battle with Doomsday, Henshaw decides to pose as him in order to destroy 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. The Cyborg then uses 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 due to components within himself that include Kryptonian alloys, combined with the fact that the replaced body parts correspond with those parts of the original Superman's body that were most severely injured in his fight with Doomsday. (It will be interesting to see if any of this comes to light as they both return in September.)

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 then endorses the Cyborg as the “true” Superman. (And you thought Obamacare was his worst!) When confronted by Lois Lane, the Cyborg claims his memory is "blurry" but he can see a "spaceship on a farm and the nameKent," suggesting that Henshaw may be aware of Superman's secret identity.

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 also murders an entire family of vacationers trying to find a way out of the devastated area. 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 but powerless original Superman of the Cyborg's plans. The quartet travels to the site of the former Coast City, and Superman (whose powers are slowly returning), Supergirl, and Steel confront 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 theEngine 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 fully restore Superman's powers. Superman is then able to easily defeat the already weakened Cyborg.

It was later revealed that Henshaw chose to attack Coast City first because he and his late wife were former residents. This was part of an effort to erase his former life.

Brightest Day and Reign of Doomsday aside, whatever happens with Cyborg Supes in September, let’s home he is starting from scratch. These in-and-out continuity worlds of DC drive me crazy … kinda like Henshaw! Bwahahahahaha!