Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Robot Heroes of the Golden Age of comics

Robots are cool and so is the Golden Age of comics. Combine the two and you've got a great thing. It seems that just like every company had their magician, super man, and patriotic hero, every company had their robot hero.

Hugh Hazzard and his Robot first appeared in Quality's Smash Comics #1 (Aug. 1939).
It started off innocent enough with a robot that was designed by an evil scientist only to be taken over by Hugh Hazzard to fight crime. Originally he was called "the Iron Man" but he eventually got the name of Bozo.

I guess they figured that a name like Bozo would strike fear into the hearts of criminals.
Hugh would go riding around in Bozo fighting criminals and Nazis alike.

The inventor must have been a time lord like Dr. Who because, judging from how comfortable Hugh looks inside the thing, he must have way more space in there than it appears from the outside.
I guess Bozo became popular because eventually the "Hugh Hazzard" part was taken off and the strip eventually took on the cool name of "Bozo the Robot".

The next robot to hit the scene was Electro in Timely's Marvel Mystery Comics #4 (Feb 1940).

It seems that rather than having someone riding inside of him, he had a number of operatives who controlled him remotely.

Electro must have had a Scottish inventor because it's not often that you see a robot wearing a kilt.

Maybe he was trying for the Roman gladiator look.

The next robot hero was Marvex the super robot who first appeared in Timely's Daring Mystery Comics #3 (April 1940).

He was created by beings from the 5th dimension to take over the Earth and enslave the human race. 

Marvex however rebels and destroys them. Marvex stays on the Earth to defend us weaklings from other malevolent beings.

Those two robot heroes must have been a success because Timely decided to come out with another one, though this one was a little different, he was invulnerable by virtue of being made out of rubber. He went by the auspicious name of Flexo the rubber man who first appeared in Mystic Comics #1, (March 1940) .

Flexo was "made of of live rubber, filled with a secret gas, and operated by remote control."  He has a malleable body that allows him to stretch into different rudimentary shapes.

Normally bullets that are fired through him pass through and the rubber compound that comprises of his body reseals itself. However, in some instances holes punctured through Flexo releases a powerful knock out gas.

Well DC Comics had to get in on some of this robot action so they created Robotman! (I bet the guys at Timely were kicking themselves for not thinking of that one.)

He first appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #7 (April 1942) and was created by Jerry Siegel, the co-creator of Superman though it was the excellent work of Jimmy Thompson that makes him so memorable. He wrote and drew the strip from 1943 to 1949.
Robotman is actually not a real robot; he is a cyborg, half man, half robot.

Rather than super hero action, Jimmy Thompson use to like to play him for laughs. He gave him a robot dog, Robbie, and had a bunch of silly adventures.

1 comment:

  1. Great article! Here are a few more Golden Age robots for you:
    The Human Torch (android; Timely, Oct. 1939)
    Volton (android; Holyoke, Mar. 1942)
    Roboroy (sidekick to Brad Spencer, Wonderman; Nedor, Jan. 1944)
    Mekano (Nedor, May 1944)