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Metamorpho (real name Rex Mason, also called The Element Man) is a fictional character, a superhero in the DC Universe. A founding member of the Outsiders, he has also been a member of the Justice League Europe and the Justice League of America.

Publication history

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. 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.

As part of a Wednesday Comics, Neil Gaiman wrote a twelve-page Metamorpho story that Mike Allred illustrated.

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 Egyptianmarker pyramidmarker, Rex Mason was knocked out by Simon's brutish bodyguard, Java, and eventually exposed to a radioactive meteor 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, unlike other super-humanoids described in DC Comics, regarded his metamorphic powers as a disease, and sought a cure for his condition. (This can be compared to the Hulk, a Marvel character, whose human persona also sought a cure for his condition.) He considered himself a non-human freak because of his abilities and wanted to be restored to normal. For that reason, he rejected an offer of membership that the Justice League of America extended to him.

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. The scientific adviser to the Outsiders, Dr. Jace had decided that life with the more logical Manhunters was preferable and she betrayed the team. They fought back, but Metamorpho had been brainwashed into assisting Jace. He was killed in the resulting battle. 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 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 protected three of his teammates, Nuklon, Obsidian, and the original Icemaiden in a giant, fluid filled ball. The intent was for them to survive reentry into Earth's atmosphere. The three make it, injured but alive, but Metamorpho does not. He was 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.


Sapphire Stagg used the Orb of Ra to bring Metamorpho back to life, and he briefly joined the Doom Patrol. Shortly thereafter, an accident with one of Simon Stagg's experiments turned Simon, Sapphire and Joey into an energy being, and caused Metamorpho to take on the form and personality of Java. "Java" kidnapped Black Canary, asking for her help in rescuing the others. With Canary's help, he became Metamorpho again, and managed to separate the others into their normal forms. (Birds of Prey #51-52, March-April 2003)

Outsiders / "Shift"

At the same time 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 developed a relationship with Indigo, becoming depressed over her death. 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 explained in the Outsiders Annual; he had inadvertently killed 44 people during Black Lightning's escape from Iron Heights.

Metamorpho continued to serve on the Outsiders when Batman took over, and following its further restructuring following Batman's apparent death.

Other Media


Justice League

Metamorpho appeared in the Justice League animated series two-part episode "Metamorphosis", voiced by Tom Sizemore. Rex Mason was a friend of John Stewart's from when they were Marines. He was exposed to mutagenic gas by his boss, Stagg, then convinced that Stewart was the one responsible, supposedly as a way to steal his fiancee Sapphire (voiced by Danica McKellar). When Metamorpho's attempts at revenge create a giant monster imbued with part of Stagg's mind, which threatens to harm Sapphire, Metamorpho sacrifices himself to stop the creature by turning into the chemical formula to neutralize it; it would have taken days to create the mixture naturally. Though he would have been killed, a single tear from Sapphire falls into his liquefied remains, allowing him to regenerate into his humanoid form. He is one of several heroes suggested, by Green Lantern, to be Superman's replacement in the league after he is sent into the future by the Toyman.

Metamorpho appears briefly in several non-speaking roles in Justice League Unlimited, specifically the episodes "Clash", "Panic in the Sky", and "Alive", as well as in a still shot with the rest of the roster in "Initiation". In "Clash", Metamorpho assists in fighting Parasite, but has his powers stolen by the villain. In "Panic in the Sky" and "Alive" he helps battle against the Ultimen clones and Darkseid's Parademons, respectively.

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Metamorpho appears in the Batman: The Brave and the Bold episode "Enter The Outsiders", voiced by Scott Menville. This version is a teenager who was a member of the Outsiders, along with Katana and Black Lightning, he is an easy going guy who is shown never to get truley mad about things. The three worked for Slug, until Batman and Wildcat convinced them to become crimefighters. Metamorpho helps in saving Wildcat's life when his heart stops in the middle of a fight. Katana has Metamorpho turn into oxygen in order to get into Wildcat's lungs. Metamorpho is later seen with Katana and Black Lightning in a training simulation in "Duel of the Double Crossers". His insecurities about his appearance and his repressed anger are shown in a nightmare created by Psycho-Pirate in "Inside the Outsiders".


Metamorpho can be seen as one of the several heroes at the end of Justice League: The New Frontier.

Video Games

Metamorpho is set to appear in the upcoming video game DC Universe Online.


  1. Jones, Gerard and Will Jacobs (1997). The Comic Book Heroes. Rocklin, CA: Prima, 76-77.
  2. Gaiman & Allred on Metamorpho, Comic Book Resources, January 30, 2009

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