Metamorpho’s creator, Bob Haney, had seen success with DC Comics in 1963 with the titles Metal Men and Doom Patrol, featuring bands of superheroes exhibiting fantastic powers. Under the editorial management of George Kashdan, Haney was asked to capitalize on these titles’ popularity with a similar character. Metamorpho, the Element Man, debuted in The Brave and the Bold #57 (January 1965). As first conceived, Metamorpho was a parody of the fantastic characters that populated comic books in the 1960s.[1] Artist Ramona Fradon was coaxed out of maternity-retirement to illustrate Metamorpho’s first appearances. The popularity of Metamorpho’s appearances in The Brave and the Bold led to a seventeen issue ongoing series between 1965 and 1968. Metamorpho also appeared during this time in an issue of Justice League of America, but became the second superhero to decline an invitation to join that organization (Adam Strange being the first).

After becoming a charter member of the Outsiders in 1983, and member of the European branch of the Justice League International, he received his own 4 issue series in 1993.

In 2005, DC reprinted Metamorpho’s early The Brave and the Bold appearances and the entirety of the 1965 series as one of the company’s volumes of Showcase Presents.

In 2007, Dan Jurgens launched the 6 issue series Metamorpho Year One.

Fictional character biography

Rex Mason was an adventurer who was hired by business tycoon Simon Stagg to retrieve a rare Egyptian artifact. Mason also started dating Stagg’s daughter, Sapphire Stagg.

In an Egyptian pyramid, Rex Mason was exposed to a radioactive meteorite called the Orb of Ra which transformed him into the Element Man. He gained the ability to shapeshift and change himself into any element found in the human body, or any combinations thereof. It was later revealed that Mason was but one of many metamorphae, created by the sun god Ra to serve as warriors in his battle against the god Apep, “the serpent who never dies”.

Metamorpho briefly had a crimefighting partner: a woman named Urania “Rainie” Blackwell who deliberately exposed herself to the Orb and gained his powers, and called herself Element Girl. She worked with him on a number of cases, before her unrequited attraction to him became too much for her. Blackwell’s power was removed, resulting in her death, at her own request by the sun god Ra, with assistance by Death, in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.


Metamorpho spends some time working with the Outsiders. While in the despotically ruled country of Mozombia, Metamorpho is subdued and taken apart. The tyrant’s forces keep him inert with a constant application of radiation. He is freed by Katana’s indestructible sword, which had been latched onto a live electrical wire.

While leaving Mozombia, the Outsiders’ plane is shot down by the Bad Samaritan. Metamorpho and the others spend some time stranded on a deserted island, simply too far away from land to rescue themselves.

Metamorpho perishes, for the first of multiple times, during the Millennium event.[2] The scientific advisor to the Outsiders, Dr. Jace had decided that life with the more logical Manhunters was preferable and she betrayed the team.[2] They fought back but Metamorpho had been brainwashed into assisting Jace.[2] He was killed in the resulting battle.[2] He returns during the Invasion miniseries, when a gene-bomb set off by invading aliens affected his biomass.

Justice League

Metamorpho spent some time with the Justice League, including Justice League Europe. There, he encounters Sapphire Stagg again. He becomes involved in a battle with the Metal Men, who had been tricked by Simon. His League friends, Rocket Red and Animal Man were at the site of the battle but were being detained by Simon’s brutish bodyguard, Java. At the conclusion of the battle, Metamorpho learns he had a son with Sapphire. Unfortunately, the baby boy’s touch harmed all but Sapphire and Metamorpho himself. Java held the baby and Java’s arms melted. Metamorpho handed the baby over to Simon, who became convinced he would die, harmed like Java had been moments ago.

Simon came through without a bit of harm; something in his genetic structure protected him just as it did with the baby’s mother. Simon’s stance softened and everyone was left free to go. Doc Magnus, the leader of the Metal Men, offered his services in creating new arms for Java.

On the way home, Metamorpho’s friends were puzzled as to how he knew Simon would be unaffected by the child. Metamorpho indicates that he had hoped the baby would kill Simon.

Metamorpho would later have a romantic relationship with Crimson Fox, which is cut short by her apparent murder. His personal investigation of the incident uncovers multiple layers of lies and deceit.

Second Death

Later, the Hyperclan attacked the Justice League of America orbiting base, destroying it. Metamorpho protects three of his teammates, Nuklon, Obsidian, and the second Icemaiden in a giant, fluid filled ball. The intent is for them to survive reentry into Earth’s atmosphere. The three make it, injured but alive, but Metamorpho does not. He is buried with solemn honors. After a temporary resurrection by the wish-granting Id (fundamentally flawed because the wisher, his son Joey, only wished for him to be back rather than to be alive), he would return some time later.

Outsiders / “Shift”

Recently Metamorpho had seemingly been appearing in Outsiders vol. 3, but Rex Mason informed the team that their Metamorpho is a regrown fragment of his own body (Outsiders #7, February, 2004). Rex attempts to reassimilate his “twin” but the Outsiders convinced him that the “twin” deserves the chance to lead his own life. This “second” Metamorpho chose the name “Shift” and develops a relationship with Indigo. After the events of One Year Later, Shift willingly chose to be reassimilated into Metamorpho, because he had killed several people. Rex has stepped in to fill Shift’s position in the Outsiders, while a full account of Shift’s crimes is pending.

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