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Robot Rock: 11 Great Comic Book Robots

Robots! Along with Ninjas and Gorillas, they complete the Holy Trinity of character types that make comics more awesome by virtue of their very presence, even if some of them — like Red Tornado, seen at left fighting crime by employing Hostess cupcakes — are so terrible that they can star in stories where they punch out Hitler and still complain all the time about how they’ll never understand what it’s like to be human.

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But we love ‘em, which is why when ComicsAlliance sat down to list our favorites, which–considering that the Doom Patrol‘s Robotman, Invincible‘s Robot, and Jack Staff‘s Tom Tom the Robot Man aren’t really robots at all–we found it was a little trickier than it might sound. So we turned as always to contributor Chris Sims to crank up the Daft Punk and give us a gallery of the Eleven Greatest Robots in Comics!

1. ATOMIC ROBO

Built by Nikolai Tesla in 1923, the title character of Brian Clevinger and Scott Wegener’s Atomic Robo has learned a lot in 83 years of action that included service in World War 2, team-ups with Charles Fort, H.P. Lovecraft and Carl Sagan, a long-standing feud with Professor Stephen Hawking, and leading the Action Scientists of Tesladyne. Namely, he’s learned that talking dinosaurs are not to be trusted, it’s always safe to assume that mummies are involved in pyramid related troubles, and that there’s no problem so scientifically complex that it can’t be solved with the liberal application of a Lightning Gun.

2. MACHINE MAN

Aaron Stack, alias X-51, alias Machine Man, recovered from being rejected by the Celestials with a combination of heavy drinking, joining the ultraviolent pirate super-heroes of Nextwave, and battling an entire alternate earth full of the flesh-eating undead in Marvel Zombies 3. In other words, he’s been having the Best Decade Ever.

3. WORLD’S GREATEST GRANDPA

Before he brought you Invincible Iron Man and Casanova, Matt Fraction teamed with Andy Kuhn for Mantooth!, the story of a kung fu gorilla super-spy who, in his first adventure, battled the diabolical Dr. Woo and his ultimate weapon, an indestructible robot that was inexplicably named World’s Greatest Grandpa. Fortunately, Rex Mantooth was able to use his exploding tuxedo to defeat Dr. Woo and unmask him as none other than Adolf Hitler in disguise, claiming World’s Greatest Grandpa and turning him into an orbital bachelor pad. And since that all happens in one issue, you can probably guess why we consider Mantooth! to be one of the greatest comic books of all time.

4. HOURMAN

Originally created by Grant Morrison for DC One Million, the third Hourman was a “sentient machine colony” from the year 85,271 who, thanks to a gift from the New God Metron, had complete mastery of the time stream. It was writer Tom Peyer who made him a cult favorite in a sadly short-lived series (only 25 issues) that saw “Tyler” teaming up with former Justice League “mascot” Snapper Carr for adventures as varied as bopping through the time-stream and trying coffee for the first time.

5. ULTRON

Who would’ve thought that perennial Avenger and perpetual screwup Hank Pym’s desire to create a sentient robot would go so horribly wrong? Well, probably everybody, but I doubt they thought it would go quite as wrong as a self-replicating genocidal adamantium android that once murdered an entire country yet somehow managed to get beaten to death by Daredevil, who was armed with a stick.

And as a bonus, he still had time to be a father to one of our other favorite robots, Victor Mancha, who stood out even among the Runaways for having a super-villain father that you’ve actually heard of.

6. THE METAL MEN

Created by legendary genius/madman Robert Kanigher with artists Ross Andru and Mike Esposito, DC’s Metal Men were involved in some of the most ludicorusly insane stories of the Silver Age, which were only made crazier by the fact that the Metal Men themselves were destroyed at the end of almost every issue, only to be rebuilt just in time to stop Chemo or the Missile Men in the next story. Our particular favorites? Platinum, who was desperately in love with their creator, pipe-smoking scientist Will Magnus, who responded to the affection of the sexy nurse robot he created by constantly yelling at her and threatening to sell her to the Science Museum (which he actually did on two occasions!) and Mercury, who–as he would remind you at every opportunity–was made of the only metal that’s liquid at room temperature.

7. RED RONIN

Marvel’s very own kaiju creation, Red Ronin was created to do battle with Godzilla himself when Marvel had the license to the legendary King of Monsters, but then became a fixture of the universe, even doing battle with the Avengers in an issue to that misspelled his name on the cover. His finest hour, though, came in a battle with the Marvel Megamorphs, which were giant transforming robot suits with the powers of Spider-Man, Wolverine, Ghost Rider, Captain America and the Hulk invented by Tony Stark. Yes: That really happened. And yes: It is awesome.

8. M-11, THE HUMAN ROBOT

One of comics’ first robots, M-11 made his debut in 1954′s Menace #11 (M-11, get it?), but is enjoying a resurgence in the pages of Agents of Atlas, in which writer Jeff Parker has not only had him lift a talking gorilla into the air so that the gorilla can fire a machine gun in both hands and both feet, but recently had him quoting Muhammad Ali while duking it out with another robot.

9. ANNA


As a combat-mech turned friendly housekeeper to a gang of super-powered teens, Anna was sort of like a cross between Alice from The Brady Bunch and Rosie from The Jetsons, but–like pretty much everything that appeared in Gen13–taken to a fetishistic extreme as a super-hot blonde in a French Maid minidress. She was blown up (as tends to happen to robots in comics) but, under writer Adam Warren, who also gave us a great gang of robots in Livewires, rebuilt herself and provided a great deal of the book’s comedy with the combination of her sugar-sweet motherly attitude and actually-pretty-creepy robotic tendencies.

10. GI ROBOT

Another Robert Kanigher creation, J.A.K.E.-2 is the best known of many GI Robots, including the original model that battled against dinosaurs during World War 2, which apparently wasn’t exciting enough without dinosaurs fighting robtos with machine-gun arms. History professors in the DC Universe must be the raddest dudes alive.

11. AWESOME ANDY

Awesome Andy’s official name is The Mad Thinker’s Awesome Android, and we’re pretty sure that’s the best name in comics history. Built to battle the Fantastic Four, Andy later liberated himself after Thor encouraged him to embrace the nobility that allowed him to hold the hammer Mjolnir and got a job at a super-hero law firm alongside She-Hulk, where he found love with an attorney named Mallory Book, but lost her to the time-traveling Two-Gun Kid after he realized he’d been inadvertently seducing her with powers absorbed from Starfox.

You know, Marvel Comics can be kind of complicated sometimes.

Those are our favorites, but how about yours? HARDAC? Machinesmith? The Vision? Astro Boy? Dare we even mention the Transformers? Leave a comment and let us know your favorite robot in comics!

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