Hank Henshaw is a supervillain featured in the DC Comics universe. While originally featured primarily as an enemy of Superman, recent years have repositioned him as one of the main enemies of the Green Lantern Corps. While the character debuted in The Adventures of Superman #465 (April 1990), he was reintroduced as the Cyborg Superman during the Reign of the Supermen storyline following Superman's death. At times, he is also referred to as The Cyborg (not to be confused with Teen Titans member Victor Stone aka Cyborg).
Hank 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 pastiche of the origin of the Fantastic Four, 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. 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 an alternate 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.
Though Henshaw's physical body expired, 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.
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 the Excalibur 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.
Reign of the 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.
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. When confronted by Lois Lane, the Cyborg claims his memory is "blurry" but he can see a "spaceship on a farm and the name Kent", suggesting that Henshaw may be aware of Superman's secret identity.
Henshaw's arrival as Superman, the self-styled Man of Tomorrow, was simultaneous with that of three others: John Henry Irons (the self-styled Man of Steel), Eradicator (the self-styled Last Son of Krypton), and the modern Superboy. The endorsement of the President ensures that the Cyborg eclipses the rest of the heroes claiming to be Superman's heir. During this time, two cults spring up in anticipation of Superman's return from the dead; one which defied the Eradicator and another which venerated the Cyborg. Supporters of both would eventually come to blows over which was the real Superman. This was a foreshadowing of a battle yet to come between the Cyborg and the Eradicator as the Cyborg began to move his plans forward.
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 the Engine 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.
Before exiling Doomsday into space, Henshaw had installed a device on the monster to allow him to detect if Doomsday were to ever escape. After the destruction of his Cyborg Superman form, Henshaw transfers his consciousness into this device as Doomsday is "the safest place in the galaxy" for the Cyborg to hide. Doomsday is brought on board a space cruiser and, despite frantic efforts of the crew to jettison him, kills the crew, and upon landing on Apokolips, proceeds to pillage the planet. When Superman, his power now boosted by being repowered by "purple kryptonite", arrives. Henshaw emerges by reconfiguring an armored Apokoliptian trooper, brutally murdered by Doomsday, into a new body (which by all accounts had its DNA overwritten with the Kryptonian DNA Henshaw had obtained while in Superman's birthing matrix, and thus still retains a portion of Superman's abilities and still looks the way the Cyborg Superman looked, except for a change in the color of the Cyborg's metallic components) and proceeds to lay siege to the planet alongside Doomsday. The Cyborg successfully took over most of Apokolips and despite resisting them once, was captured by Darkseid's Omega Beams during a battle with Superman.
Darkseid did not kill the Cyborg; rather, the Omega Effect captured Henshaw in a small orb, with Darkseid planning to use the Cyborg against Superman at a later date. Darkseid eventually frees Henshaw with the understanding that Henshaw is to leave Apokolips and never return.
The Cyborg eventually aligns himself with an intergalactic tribunal which is seeking to bring Superman to trial for the crimes of his ancestors. Henshaw assists the tribunal in capturing Eradicator, Superboy, Supergirl, Steel, and Alpha Centurion, who had intended to rescue Superman. However, the Cyborg betrayed the tribunal and attempted to conquer their planet for conversion into a new Warworld. Superman and his allies stop the Cyborg's plan and, when Henshaw's involvement in the destruction of Coast City is brought to the attention of the tribunal, they find him guilty of genocide and sentence him to death. As an electronic consciousness, Henshaw cannot be killed by normal means and is transported beyond the event horizon of a black hole, where not even light can escape from the gravity.
Rather than being destroyed, the Cyborg is transported (unknowingly by another villain Thanos) to a Marvel Multiverse dimension designated as 616, as seen at the beginning of the Green Lantern/Silver Surfer crossover. The Cyborg destroys a planet in another attempt to recreate Warworld, attracting the attention of the Silver Surfer. Their short battle is interrupted by the arrival of Parallax, who has been tracking the Cyborg for some time, seeking vengeance for the destruction of Coast City. In the confusion, Henshaw escapes and is returned to the DC Universe by the end of the story. Parallax undid the destruction of the planet that Henshaw had caused using power donated from the Silver Surfer.
Henshaw in his later, less Superman-based costume. Art by Doug Mahnke
The Cyborg encounters Hal Jordan again at the brink of the Source Wall, a nexus of statues that channels vital energy to preserve the Fourth World. Parallax uses his powers to generate representations of the victims of Coast City which tear the Cyborg's body apart. Jordan then disperses Henshaw's consciousness, and the Cyborg is seemingly destroyed once again.
During a crisis involving the Godwave, Superman (wearing his blue energy costume at the time) travels to New Genesis and encounters Henshaw again. Henshaw has taken part of the Source Wall's structure and crafted a small world made up of his memories, which he uses to taunt Superman before being defeated again. Unknown to Superman, the Cyborg stores his own consciousness in Superman's high-tech containment suit. After Superman returns to Earth, Henshaw escapes and constructs a new body, this time posing as an art teacher at a high school in an attempt to start over. He is a popular teacher and befriends the blind Ashbury Armstrong (daughter of Dirk Armstrong), but ultimately his rage towards Superman causes him to reveal his true identity and his new body is lost in a fight with Superman. To escape detection, Henshaw stores his consciousness in a clay statue. This statue is later stolen by the Toyman and the two villains join forces to kill Superman. To this end, the Cyborg designs a machine that will break Superman's energy form down into multiple components and beam them to different points in the galaxy, preventing Superman from reforming. A malfunction in the machine causes Superman to split into Superman Blue and Superman Red, the latter of whom eventually defeats and recaptures the Cyborg.
The Cyborg later attempts to take over Kandor, but fails when he is defeated by Superman and sent to the Phantom Zone. Shortly after the Superman Y2K story, Henshaw escapes the Zone and attacks Superman, who was suffering from kryptonite poisoning. Henshaw is defeated with the help of the Kandorians and sent back to the Phantom Zone, swearing revenge. However, he is not encountered on subsequent visits to the Zone.
Henshaw returns in a form similar to his original body, when he is revealed to be the Manhunters' new Grandmaster. With his influence, the Manhunters have been upgraded with organic material, most notably with blood. On the Manhunter home world of Biot, in sector 3601, Henshaw is holding captive several assumed-to-be-dead Green Lanterns, most of whom appeared to die during the Emerald Twilight saga.
Henshaw has also used Kryptonian technology to upgrade the Manhunters. During the Green Lantern story arc No Fear, Kryptonian robots are seen servicing the Manhunters. Henshaw, the Grandmaster, allowed the Green Lantern Corps to rebuild for unspecified reasons as a part of his master plan. While Henshaw explains that he first encountered the Manhunters around the time he was imprisoned in the Source Wall by Parallax, it has yet to be revealed how the Cyborg was able to escape the Phantom Zone and take control of Biot. Henshaw is defeated when Biot explodes, destroying most of his body aside from his head.
Henshaw's head is then brought by a Guardian back to Oa so that they can learn of how he was able to take control of Biot, what he has learned from the Manhunters and to learn about "the 52" (referring to the 51 alternate Earths created during the second Crisis as well as their own reality). It is also revealed that the Cyborg knows of the 52, though exactly how he came by this knowledge isn't made completely clear. It is stated that he has explored "The Bleed"; the space between dimensions, which could have occurred when he was imprisoned there, when he was imprisoned in the Source Wall, or his past exploration in the Marvel Universe.
Henshaw's head is taken by the Sinestro Corps after their invasion of Oa to Qward. Henshaw is later seen as a herald of the newly returned Anti-Monitor. He reconstructs his cyborg body and replaces the S-symbol on his chest with the symbol of the Sinestro Corps. He now wields ten Qwardian power rings. It is revealed that Henshaw has joined the Sinestro Corps so that the Anti-Monitor can later kill him and allow him to rest in peace.
Henshaw was the focus of the Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Cyborg Superman one-shot that was released on October 3, 2007. In this book, Henshaw and his Manhunters head to Earth to assist the Sinestro Corps in their attack. En route, Henshaw stops leading the Manhunters which continue to their preprogrammed destinations. As he watches them go, he remembers everything that has happened to him, from their dreadful shuttle accident to his wife's suicide when she sees him in his robot form. He finishes this journey down memory lane by going to his wife's grave. He digs her corpse out and rips it into two, shouting that all he wants is not to be with her, but for these memories to fade.
Meanwhile, Manhunters begin an assault on the JLA satellite. Hawkgirl, Black Lightning, and Red Arrow retaliate; however, all three are neutralized when Henshaw assists in the attack and he successfully tampers with the mechanics of the satellite core. As the satellite is thrown out of orbit, Superman appears and engages Henshaw in battle. Their fight continues on Earth, while Sinestro transports his crew and his ship from the anti-matter universe. At first Superman seems to have the upper hand; however after two punches, Henshaw strikes with great power and rage, punching him through the Statue of Liberty. By the end, Henshaw has Superman in a choke hold, thinking that the victory is near.
He is later seen briefly in Tales of the Sinestro Corps Presents: Superman-Prime, having presumably been beaten back by the combined strength of Superman, Supergirl, and Power Girl.
When the Green Lantern Corps decide to detonate New Warworld and the central power battery of the Sinestro Corps to destroy the Anti-Monitor, Henshaw allows himself to be trapped behind a shield and exposed to the massive explosion. Before he is destroyed, however, he thanks the Green Lantern Corps.
Most of Henshaw's body survived the explosion, but it took further damage when Superman-Prime hurled the Anti-Monitor into space. The upper part of his skull was retrieved by the android Manhunters. Unable to detect any life signs and confused without his leadership, the Manhunters reanimated the brain of the Cyborg Superman. He shed a tear when he realized he was still alive.
In the Brightest Day crossover, Henshaw would eventually return and work with the Alpha Lanterns as they attempted to augment every Green Lantern, including Ganthet, into an Alpha. This was apparently at the suggestion of the robed figure holding Ion and Parallax who told him that Ganthet held the knowledge to destroy him permanently, after Henshaw's attempts to provoke Nekron into killing him during the Blackest Night failed because he lacked a heart to attract Nekron's interest. By threatening to make the Alpha Lanterns kill themselves if Ganthet does not cooperate, Henshaw forces Ganthet to work on reversing the augments that turned the Green Lanterns into Alpha Lanterns, hoping that he can use the resulting information to restore his original mortal body.
Henshaw was seemingly killed when his lifeforce was finally separated from his nearly indestructible body by the combined full powered blasts of several Lanterns and Ganthet, and appeared on the mental plane of Alpha-Lantern Boodikka in an attempt to take her bio-mechanical body over, where both beings were their original, un-powered selves. Her essence, gifted with her innate, formidable combat skills, engaged his in one-on-one combat, and she quickly overpowered and killed his astral form.
Afterwards, however, Ganthet noted immediately that there was something different about her. Boodikka claims this is because Ganthet's newly discovered emotions allowed him to see her as she is (Boodikka's true self, now in control of her body again), not by what she is (an Alpha Lantern).
In the Reign of Doomsday crossover, Boodikka was attacked by Doomsday while investigating the remains of New Krypton, and Henshaw was revealed to still be alive inside her, forming a new body out of her internal circuitry to fight Doomsday while Batman and Supergirl were trying to repair Boodikka. Henshaw uses his abilities to take control of the JLA Watchtower and uses the satellite's defenses in an attempt to kill Doomsday, reasoning that if he could manage to destroy the creature that killed Superman, it would prove once and for all that he is superior to Superman. After the creature is violently dismembered by Henshaw, it somehow absorbs the nanotechnology from Henshaw's body and repairs itself, becoming a new being dubbed Cyborg Doomsday. Cyborg Doomsday somehow manages to negate Henshaw's ability to repair himself, which leads Henshaw to believe that he might finally meet his demise. Supergirl bursts onto the scene and attempts to stop Doomsday herself, but Henshaw fires an energy blast at her, stating that he would not allow her to defeat the creature that had humiliatingly beaten him only moments before. With Supergirl distracted, Cyborg Doomsday knocks her out and then tears one of Henshaw's arms off before departing with both of his unconscious captives. Trapped in a satellite with the other Supermen, the heroes conclude that Henshaw has been trapped with them to keep them disorganized due to the tensions caused by his presence, prompting Henshaw to depart and search the satellite himself. After Superman arrives to rescue his comrades, Henshaw reveals that the Doomsdays that fought them were actually all clones of the original created by Lex Luthor. Henshaw tries to fight them, but Superman rips his central node off, knowing that they would not survive a confrontation with the Doomsdays. After the Doomsday clones are sent to another dimension, Henshaw is in custody of S.T.A.R. Labs.
The New 52
A fully human Henshaw appears in The New 52 as a doctor working for the Advanced Prosthetic Research Centre and colleague of Caitlin Fairchild. He is tasked into reactivating the android Spartan.
While in space and after saving a planet called I'noxia, Supergirl discovers an amnesiac Cyborg Superman living there. This version is revealed to be Zor-El, who survives Kryptons destruction and is reconfigured as a half-man half-machine by Brainiac to be his scout looking for stronger species in the universe.
Powers and Abilities
Following his exposure to cosmic radiation and subsequent "death", Henshaw's consciousness survives in an electronic state, making him virtually indestructible as he can transfer his electronic consciousness into any nearby machine (and even some that are light years away). Henshaw is able to possess any machine or technology and manipulate said devices as though they are living metal. He can animate machines, construct any technological device, and control any mechanical system. He was once able to control the entire Alpha Lantern corps (a group known for its willpower), and later controlled a billion robots at once, albeit at great mental strain. In addition, Henshaw's cyborg body possesses a various number of other mechanical sensors, and has the ability to interface with any machine. His technological components can transform into myriad weapons and tools; since his first appearance as the Cyborg Superman, Henshaw has consistently manifested his technical half in that manner.
Thanks to his interactions with Superman's birthing matrix, Henshaw possesses knowledge of both Superman's Kryptonian genetic code and Kryptonian technology. This information allows him to construct cyborg bodies with organic portions that are genetically identical to Superman and mechanical components built from Kryptonian (and later, Apokoliptian) alloys. Using Superman's genetic code gives the Cyborg access to all of Superman's powers, including Superman's vulnerability to kryptonite radiation which appeared to weaken both the organic and technological components of Henshaw's body while also preventing him from altering his body. However, even though his organic half might be mortally weakened by kryptonite, the mechanical components of his body will allow Henshaw to still function, albeit without any of his Kryptonian powers. He may be immune to Kryptonite radiation, as he seemed to suffer no ill effects when he fought a Kryptonite-poisoned Superman (who was also emitting the deadly radiation himself).
Henshaw's physical durability has, at different times, been greater than and lesser than Superman's. He was shown melting and burning up in Earth's sun during a battle with Superman Red, an exposure which Superman survived with no ill effects (although Superman's current fire-based state may have contributed to his endurance at the time). Darkseid's Omega Beams were unable to destroy him with an initial blast, although Darkseid later stated that he was not operating at his peak at that point, but did succeed in imprisoning him the second time, while Superman was hurt by the attack despite the fact he was not even the target and was only holding Henshaw in position.
In addition to the powers he has because of his Kryptonian-cyborg body, he also has been shown wielding ten Qwardian power rings and as such, has access to all the immense powers they bestow. Among these powers are energy and matter manipulation which allowed Henshaw to overcome Superman handily during the Sinestro Corps war.
Finally, Henshaw seems to be able to alter his natural energy attacks to affect specific foes. He has been able to defeat both Superman and Eradicator with a single blast on several occasions. Normally he uses a weapon crafted out of one of his arms but, when pressed, merely uses his eye-beams; either only his mechanical one, or both his Kryptonian eye and cybernetic one simultaneously.