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October 1, 2017

Character Spotlight: Deathlok (Luther Manning)

It’s alive! Alive! Dead flesh meets weird science. Deathlok is the name given to several people over the years who were presumed dead but due to cybernetics, were brought back, locked in a death like state but also “alive” in a sense. We’ll be spending this Halloween season talking about the undead folks who have their bodies revived and how they try to take back a life of their own. First up, the first Deathlok from another dimension and the distant future of 1990, Luther Manning! How did he become an undead cyborg? Let’s find out!

Luther Manning joined the army sometime in the late 1970s and would dutifully serve until he was killed during war games in 1985. Superior officer, Major Simon Ryker, would have Luther’s remains repurposed for Project: Alpha-Mech, headed by his brother Harlan, their goal was to make cyborg super soldiers. Luther turned out to be a success, now part man, part machine, he was designated Deathlok and put into stasis.

Awakened in 1990, Luther would go through the motions of being trained and ready for missions until his own memories returned. Luther had a wife and son, who both thought he was long dead and had moved on. Able to break free by attacking Simon Ryker, who had been in charge of his training, he’d leave Ryker with his brother who would make yet another cyborg. This would lead to Luther and Ryker facing off once more but this time Ryker had merged with a super computer that could destroy the world. When he’d stopped Ryker, the government attempted to transfer Luther’s consciousness into a cloned body of himself, but all they could do was replicated his memories into it so now there was Luther the cloned human and Luther the undead cyborg.

Using his cybernetic abilities, Luther would fight to keep the world safe for the next two decades even though his tech was beginning to fail him. By 2011 he’d find a being known as Timestream who promised to undo his past so he never became Deathlok in exchange for working for him. Luther would learn that Timestream was actually someone Luther had fought before and was damaging the time stream so badly that the Time Variance Authority began sending their own agents and Deathlok’s from other times and dimensions to stop them. Realizing the truth, Luther would jump from his dimension to the 616 dimension where many Marvel characters reside. Here, he’d take to living in the sewers of New York and get into plenty of bizarre adventures with many heroes and villains.

Recruited into an entirely different dimension hopping, time travelling team lead by X-51, Luther would work so he could hopefully become human again. His work would have him going into dangerous dimensions to stop the rise of the Celestials since their creation meant the destruction of many planets. The team would be stopped by the Watchers and sent back to their home dimensions as part of their punishment. True to his word, though, X-51 would find a way to return Luther to his human form, but this may have just created an alternate timeline and not truly undo things.

There you have it! Luther Manning is basically a prototype for the story of Robocop. He’s made several appearances in animation but it would be another Deathlok who’d make their way to the small screen. We’ll learn more about that Deathlok next time. See you then!

Suggested Reading
Astonishing Tales #25

Dr. Bustos



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