Who's Automan?

Who's This? No! Not THIS Automan!
The orange robot at the top of page 1 of Who's Who vol.2!
The facts: Though his Who's Who entry makes it sound like he was a regular in the Star Hawkins strips, Automan was the lead in only three stories in Tales of the Unexpected (though he was never the lead story) between 1965 and 1966 (issues 91, 94 and 97), and his connection to Star Hawkins was created for a "Whatever Happened to Star Hawkins?" back-up in DC Comics Presents #33. Though Bob Haney and Lee Elias created the character, Haney would only write one more story (Otto Binder may have written the third), and Elias was unconnected to the later chapters (with art by Bill Ely and Jay Scott Pike).
How you could have heard of him: He was one of the guys who built Sean McKeever's Enginehead, though you're forgiven for thinking he was Cliff Steele (Robotman). His body was seen in Legionnaires #66 as well.
Example story: Tales of the Unexpected vol.1 #91, his first appearance.
"Robot for Hire", to my surprise, and again it's because of that Star Hawkins/shackin' up with Ilda retcon, takes place in a contemporary setting. Robot #32196 AKA Automan is the first and brightest graduate of Professor Sterling's school for robots, as he explains to Mr. Billings of the Clarion. The two of them are played by Siskel and Ebert.
Robots at this school aren't just trained in everything they need to serve Man - from defending us against invading aliens to table manners and baseball - but to develop a human-like instinct as well.
Shark-wrestling is also on the curriculum. But Prof. Sterling is a savvy businessman too, and Automan is soon put on the market as a Robot for Hire. His first job is to work for a Mr. Rankin whom we soon learn makes his dirty money thanks to a smuggling operation. What happens when a robot is asked to commit crimes?
He goes all Asimov on Rankin's ass! Drops the "cargo" into the ocean, captures the bad guys, calls the cops, and even taped the whole thing so he could turn State's against his employer.
Wonder if they still got paid? Automan would get other jobs over the coming months, like playing bodyguard to an actress who accidentally picks up a spy's luggage, and helping a scientist test his Mutant-Man powers, but alas, if readers expected more Tales of the Unexpected starring the coppery robot, they never materialized. Possibly, Robotman's similar appearance kept him from showing up with any kind of frequency in the DCU. Ah well. But take note! It looks like 30 pages of material is enough to get a solo hero into Who's Who (if only half a page). Is that the lowest the bar was ever set? Who's This? will test that notion!

Who else? One a couple of pages later, there's ANOTHER character I really want to check out. And I'm not gonna wait. The Balloon Buster hits the SBG... TOMORROW!

7 comments:

Martin Gray said...

Ah yes, I was expecting Robotman too, getting myself mixed up ... wasn't he called Automaton on a My Greatest Adventure cover?

I think Ilda could do better.

Siskoid said...

Automan was a rebound after Ilda's long-term relationship with G.I. Robot went bad.

De said...

I think the prize for least amount of appearances and still getting an entry is tied between Aegeus and Invisible Destroyer. Each had two appearances total.

Siskoid said...

You know you're just providing motivation to feature those characters in Who's This? don't you?

My research has got 5 appearances for Aegeus, though only 2 stories I guess, Wonder Woman 297-299 and WW 306-307.

Invisible Destroyer wins the obscurity battle, appearing in Showcase 22's second story, and JLA 41. That's a paltry amount of exposure to get a full pager!

Jeremy Patrick said...

Automan cooks, does dishes, *and* fights off sharks? I could sure use a robo-nanny . . .

I like this feature!

Siskoid said...

Thanks! So do I! (Researching it anyway.)

De said...

You're totally right about Aegeus. I was indeed remembering two stories. Mea culpa :-)

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like Activities Advice Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Lois Lane Dating Princess Diana Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Iron Man Jack Kirby JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Liveblog Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries Old52 Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS SF Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Men Zine