Rex Mason was a handsome and famous soldier of fortune (only in comic books, right?), employed by super wealthy scientific genius Simon Stagg. Not a fan of Stagg’s power-hungry ways, Mason agreed to one last job for (wait for it) ONE MILLION DOLLARS so he could quit and marry Stagg’s beautiful daughter Sapphire.
While on his mission to retrieve a rare Egyptian artifact, he was exposed to a radioactive meteorite that transformed him into a repulsive freak—but it also enabled him to control the elements in his body. He could now become a fluorine gas, reshape himself into an iron tank, or turn his fist into cobalt at will. However, he couldn’t change back into his former good-looking self.
Despite Stagg’s brilliance and vast fortune, he couldn’t rectify Mason’s freakish condition but promised to keep trying. In spite of his ugliness, Sapphire still loved and stood by him. She came up with the name Metamorpho for her fiancé and convinced him to use his great powers for good.
The unusual hero who didn’t want his superpowers was produced by an unusual artist. Ramona Fradon, just about the only woman drawing superhero comics at the time, designed Metamorpho and drew his first four stories. She also enjoyed a long run drawing Aquaman and co-created his sidekick Aqualad. She confessed later that she hated drawing superheroes but didn’t mind drawing goofy characters like Plastic Man—and Metamorpho.
Illustrating one playing card a day using characters found between 1957-1967 in DC Comics. Tomorrow: Metamorpho’s female counterpart: Element Girl!