Friday, July 12, 2013
No Batman today. Sorry. Today we're talking about one of Batman's co-stars in Detective Comics, the amazing Robotman! Robotman is kind of obscure today, but he had a pretty good run in the Golden Age. He first appeared in Star-Spangled Comics #7 in 1942, ran in Star-Spangled until #82 in 1948, and then got switched over to Detective Comics, where he appeared from #138 all the way to #202 in 1953.
That's twelve years! He lasted two years after the Golden Age Flash, Green Lantern and Hawkman had disappeared from the comics pages! (And way longer than current favorites like the Spectre or Dr. Fate, who were long gone at this point!)
(Let's be careful not to confuse him with the other Robotman, the one from the Doom Patrol, who didn't appear until the early 1960s. The Golden Age Robotman looks like this.)
The earlier Robotman was a scientist named Robert Crane who worked tirelessly to create a robot body that could be used to house a human brain in case the subject's body was, let's just say for argument's sake, killed by criminals who showed up to rob a laboratory. Well, Dr. Crane was in luck when he was shot by criminals who showed up to rob the laboratory. Crane's assistant managed to place Crane's brain into the mechanical body and that's how Robotman was born!
I can't say too much about the Robotman stories because I've only read a handful but they have a reputation for being a cut above your average Golden age fare, especially with the artwork of Jimmy Thompson. I found a couple of stories online. Here is a link to "Robotman in the Moon!" and "Robot Town, U.S.A!" These two stories are from 1948 and 1949.
For much of his run in Star-Spangled Comics, Robotman enjoyed the assistance of Robbie the Robotdog. Unfortunately Robbie was gone by the time Robotman shifted over to Detective Comics.
When Robotman was ousted from Detective, he was replaced by ... Captain Compass and Mysto the Magician Detective! (Well, the times, they were a-changin'.)
Robotman returned (sort of) when Roy Thomas resurrected him for The All-Star Squadron in the 1980s. The All-Star Squadron, you may recall, was set in the 1940s, and Robotman was one of the Golden Age heroes that Thomas utilized a little more than some of the others, but the Golden Age Robotman was seldom used in modern-day stories, probably because somebody wanted to spare the readers from being confused by the existence of a Golden Age Robotman and a slightly more well-known Silver Age Robotman (the one from The Doom Patrol). Eventually, the brain of Dr. Crane was put into a human body. (It's a long story.)
And that's pretty much it for Robotman!