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Power Up: Looking for Mech Pilots in the DC Universe

Power Up: Looking for Mech Pilots in the DC Universe

By Alex Jaffe Tuesday, July 26th, 2022

You dig giant robots, I dig giant robots. This week, DC: Mech by Kenny Porter and Baldemar Rivas presents our ever-expanding multiverse with a radical new alternate reality. With the age of heroes ending prematurely by Darkseid’s defeat of the JSA, the would-be superheroes of the modern era turn to a new method of defending the Earth from catastrophe: piloting enormous robot suits designed to repel the forces of evil. We know that Flash, Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are all among Earth’s mech-piloting champions. But we can’t help but wonder which other DC heroes might be best behind the controls of such a complex and powerful machine. Here are our top candidates to get in the robot.
 

Pat Dugan

Top of our list is a superhero who just so happens to already pilot a giant robot. As S.T.R.I.P.E., Pat Dugan protects Blue Valley and his stepdaughter Stargirl’s back in a big white mech suit. As a bonus, in TV’s Stargirl series, Pat just so happens to be the last surviving member of the original Justice Society of America. Using Pat as the connective bridge between the lost JSA generation and the modern, mech-piloting heroes would be too cool an idea for us to resist.
 

Hiro Okamura

This heroic take on Superman’s classic villain Toyman was introduced as an ally in 2001’s Superman #177, a young genius inventor whose toy-inspired mechanisms aid Superman (and occasionally Batman) in fighting enemies like Metallo and Lex Luthor. But Hiro’s most memorable role was in the Superman/Batman comics story adapted into the film Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, where he reveals to the World’s Finest his greatest invention: The Composite Superman/Batman Rocket Ship, “with enough power in its fist to take out the moon!” Even if this concept proves a bridge too far for DC: Mech, we could definitely see a place for Hiro on Bruce or Clark’s development team.


Jaime Reyes

The modern Blue Beetle has just wrapped filming his own movie and has his own anticipated series coming up in Blue Beetle: Graduation Day, which we got a look at during San Diego Comic Con. But let’s not forget that the very first time we met Jaime was in Infinite Crisis, when Batman brought him along to the Brother Eye satellite to do what no other hero could do: interface with the complex, autonomous machine, and wrest control back for the good guys. With the help of his symbiotic scarab Khaji-Da, Jaime makes for a perfect mech pilot candidate. In the world of DC: Mech, we could even see Khaji-Da being the robot. Living robot suits which must function in tandem with their human pilot is one of the more complex tropes we’ve seen in mech anime, but it’s workable under the right circumstances. Jaime is the kid to get us there.
 

Cyborg

We couldn’t not put Cyborg on this list. As DC’s most prominent half-man/half-machine, Vic Stone already represents synthesis between humanity and mechanized power. As a former core member of the Justice League roster, he’s probably the most likely to be seen in the pilot’s seat for DC: Mech out of everyone on this list. We could see the DC: Mech version of Cyborg tragically fused to his own suit, unable to ever truly leave it, but ultimately accepting it as part of his identity in a similar arc to what Cyborg has undergone in the mainstream comics. Jury’s out on whether or not you’ll get a “boo-ya.”
 

Steel

Like Pat Dugan in S.T.R.I.P.E., John Henry Irons goes out and fights crime in a mechanical suit all the time—only it’s a lot less bulky than your typical mech. In fact, some incarnations of Steel’s armor are like a liquid, silver skin poured right over him. But that sleekness is easily adaptable to something bigger and more powerful in a world where giant robots rule. We’d like to see a role for his niece and successor Natasha as well, a capable Steel in her own right, drifting together like the two-pilot mechs of Pacific Rim.
 

Barbara Gordon

DC: Mech is a story about a world of fallen heroes, forced to adapt and compensate to new circumstances, rising to become something greater than they ever were before. It's a story familiar to us: it's what made Barbara Gordon's transformation from Batgirl to Oracle one of the greatest character developments in DC history. A paralyzed Barbara Gordon piloting a Bat-mech to reclaim her autonomy and become a valuable ally against Apokolips would be a powerful narrative and a rare opportunity to honor her legacy as both Oracle and Batgirl.
 

Amanda Waller

Amanda Waller is the biggest, toughest badass there is. It doesn’t matter if you’re Batman. Push as you might, there’s simply no toppling the Wall. True as that may be, Waller’s role in Task Force X is typically a managerial one, rarely joining the Suicide Squad herself unless something has gone very, very wrong. One exception to that rule was John Ostrander and Javier Pina’s 2007 Suicide Squad title, which had Waller doing one of the coolest things she’s ever done: remotely piloting the gigantic, toxic mechanical super-villain Chemo as her own personal mecha, even taking on her own visage as she used the Deathless Doom to wreak havoc on the enemy. It’s true that not having her in the suit directly might curtail some potential drama, but maintaining a mortal psychic link between the two Matrix-style might be a good way to get around that. And really, we’d just be happy to see Waller kicking ass again.
 

Kyle Rayner

Nobody in the DC Universe has ever wanted to be a mech pilot more than Kyle Rayner. As the most artistically imaginative of Earth’s Green Lanterns, you never know what inspiration Kyle will draw upon for his next construct. But one of his favorite sources has always been the robots and monsters of Japanese pop culture, which devastate in a way that comic book villains aren’t quite used to dealing with. A Green Lantern with a giant mech made of entirely hard light sounds pretty cool to us, and after all these years of putting in the work, Kyle has earned this. As Kyle tells the villain Armek in JLA #3, “I’m your worst nightmare, pal. A manga nut with a power ring.”
 

And if you’re as much of a manga nut as Kyle, you won’t want to miss DC: Mech. Get that first issue right now!


DC: Mech #1 by Kenny Porter, Baldemar Rivas and Mike Spicer is now available in print and as a digital comic book.

Alex Jaffe is the author of our monthly "Ask the Question" column and writes about TV, movies, comics and superhero history for DCComics.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexJaffe and find him in the DC Community as HubCityQuestion.

NOTE: The views and opinions expressed in this feature are solely those of Alex Jaffe and do not necessarily reflect those of DC Entertainment or Warner Bros.