Supergirl: Could We Still See the Cyborg Superman?

cyborgsuperman

Spoilers ahead for those who aren't yet caught up on Supergirl.

Since the start of the show's first season, fans of Supergirl have wondered what Hank Henshaw's secret was, and when he would reveal it to the audience, if not the hero.

We got an answer back on December 7, and then a little bit of a payoff to that answer in the December 14 episode, but it will be at least January 4 before we see anything more.

That answer? Hank Henshaw isn't Hank Henshaw at all, but J'Onn J'Onzz, the Martian Manhunter. He's been living in secret as Henshaw for years, since both Henshaw and Jeremiah Danvers -- the father of Alex and adoptive father of Kara -- passed away.

It wasn't clear how Henshaw died, although J'Onn did suggest Jeremiah died due to Henshaw's actions...which raises the question of just how Henshaw died at the same time, and whether J'Onn had anything to do with it.

The bigger question? If this isn't Hank Henshaw, will we ever see the Cyborg Superman?

A quick history refresher:

830px-Hank henshaw origins

In the original comics (pre-Flashpoint), Henshaw was the captain of an experimental spacecraft -- The Excalibur -- which crashed after being bombarded by cosmic radiation upon re-entry to Earth.

Henshaw's crew was composed of friends and his wife -- an obvious homage to Marvel's Fantastic Four -- and it shattered his wife when she turned out to be the only survivor of the accident that briefly gave them all fantastic powers, and then poisoned them with radiation. Superman arrived on the scene too late to save Henshaw or his two friends, but managed to save his wife, Terri.

Later, Henshaw sprang back to life -- as a loose conglomeration of artifacts from the ship. He had developed functional immortality via his ability to project his consciousness into any electronic device. When approaching his wife caused a nervous breakdown that would lead to her death, Henshaw blamed Superman for his death and bizarre rebirth. Projecting himself into the "birthing matrix" which carried Superman to Earth -- his rocket -- Henshaw left the planet, apparently forever.

But he returned later, following the death of Superman. He masqueraded as a revived Superman in a cyborg body, using Kryptonian technology and data on Superman's DNA made available to him by the birthing matrix. He would destroy Coast City, killing millions, before being defeated by a revived Superman.

Henshaw would return a handful more times, squaring off against Superman, Green Lantern and even the Silver Surfer and Thanos. Eventually he would come to realize that what he really longed for was to have his mortality back -- and it was granted to him during the Revolt of the Alpha Lanterns. He would return once more, this time during the "Reign of Doomsday" story which reunited most of the characters from the Death and Return of Superman saga, before the end of the pre-Flashpoint DC Universe and the rebirth of the multiverse with the New 52 publishing initiative.

cyborg-superman

In the current comics, the Cyborg Superman was recently reinvented as a foe to Supergirl -- but not as Henshaw. That would be Zor-El, Supergirl's father -- or a version of him, anyway. It seems she's got some serious family drama going on...!

Where does that leave Henshaw? Well, he's been on a mission to Jupiter with the Excalibur for a decade, and has just recently returned -- finding himself face to face with the pre-Flashpoint Superman that the "other" Henshaw hated so much in the first issue of Dan Jurgens and Lee Weeks' new series Superman: Lois and Clark.

So, all of that said, what are the chances we'll see some version of the Cyborg Superman on Supergirl?

It's really hard to say. With Henshaw outed as Martian Manhunter and Bizarro coming up, it seems less likely that we'll get a second faux-Kryptonian right away...but not impossible.

One guess? Well, they've built up Superman to almost unbelievable proportions in the series. Kara looks up to him, the world adores him and he is, in general, the pre-Flashpoint Superman that everybody loved.

(Ironically, the one currently appearing in Lois and Clark).

...So what better cliffhanger to leave the season on than to lead us to believe that he's gone bad or rogue, opening up the Cyborg Superman as a possible Season Two villain?

Even just revealing the Cyborg Superman himself would be a great cliffhanger, of course, but for drama's sake and to connect it to all the Superman talk in the pilot (everybody loves ending their season on a similar note to the way it was started), pretending it could just be Superman would be a cool twist.

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With J'Onn/Henshaw playing a major role in the series, it's hard to believe they wouldn't want to use some element of the Hank Henshaw origin if they were to introduce the Cyborg Superman on Supergirl, but obviously using her father would be more dramatically interesting than using a guy who was jilted by Superman. Perhaps somehow blending the two could provide an answer?

Anyway, there's my thinking. It seems pretty unlikely that we'll see another Kryptonian element thrown into the mix, when the season's big bad is already Supergirl's aunt and Bizarro is on the horizon...but the Cyborg Superman, with his former ties to Henshaw and his current ties to Supergirl, seems too good an opportunity to pass up, so don't be surprised to see him at least teased as the series winds down in the second half of its first season, and used outright in either the finale or next year assuming the show gets renewed for a second season.