With Marvel's <b>Age of Ultron</b>, in which evil artificial intelligence Ultron conquers the world, winding down this week with issue #10 (cover seen here), we thought we'd take a look at 10 of the evilest killer robots in fiction. Many of these characters originated in other media, but they all have a long history with comics as well. <p>For the sake of this list, we've excluded cyborgs and vessels for organic beings, so you won't see the Borg, Daleks, or Darth Vader on the list — but you will see all manner of artificial intelligences and wholly robotic villains. Here are the 10 greatest killer robots of all time.
HAL 9000, or Heuristically Programmed Algorithmic Computer, was essentially the central nervous system of the Discovery One spacecraft in the book and film <i>2001: A Space Odyssey</i>. Gifted with powerful abilities of calculation and even the ability to learn, HAL controlled nearly all the processes on the Jupiter (or Saturn, according to the novel)-bound Discovery One. <p>When HAL discovers that the astronauts aboard the Discovery One may disconnect him after he malfunctions, HAL kills most of the crew in order to preserve the secret truth about their mission to Jupiter. After the success of the Stanley Kubrick directed film and the subsequent Arthur C. Clarke novel, Jack Kirby created a 10-issue comic adaptation of <i>2001</i> that expanded the scope of the story.
There are a lot of robots, both friendly and otherwise, in the Star Wars franchise. But one of the most popular, was IG-88B, an assassin droid built off of schematics from some of the battle droids that menaced the Republic during the Clone Wars. <p>IG-88B's first — and only — film appearance was as one of the bounty hunters sent after Han Solo by the Empire, though numerous appearances in Star Wars comics, culminating in his destruction at the hands of Dash Rendar in <i>Shadows of the Empire</i>, a comic and video game designed to bridge the gap between <i>The Empire Strikes Back</i> and <i>Return of the Jedi</i>.
One of only a handful of true artificial intelligences in <i>Star Trek: The Next Generation</i>, Lore was the "brother" of Data, the Enterprise-D's android crew member. Believing himself to be superior to Data - and to their more primitive counterpart B-4 - thanks to programming that allowed him to feel emotion, Lore was also bitter at his creator Dr. Soong for dismantling him in favor of building Data, the emotionless android that would eventually join Starfleet. <p>Sadly, the reason Lore had to be deactivated was because his emotions made him unstable. Upon his reactivation, Lore embarked on a series of ill-fated attempts to conquer or exterminate humanity, eventually leading to his destruction at Data's hands. While Lore never appeared in comics, various incarnations of his brothers have appeared over the years.
The Decepticons, as most everyone knows, are a race of robotic despots from the planet Cybertron. Though their origins have varied across different media and iterations of the Transformers series, they are usually depicted as the eternal enemies of the Autobots, heroic robots that share the Decepticons' ability to transform into vehicles such as cars, planes, tanks, and other forms. <p>Lead by Megatron, the Decepticons roam the galaxy clashing with the Autobots and searching for Energon, an exotic power source. Most everyone recognizes characters such as Megatron, Starscream, Soundwave, and Shockwave from the myriad cartoons, films, and of course toys that have permeated pop culture since the early '80's, but less well known is that the Transformers comics, originally published by Marvel Comics for 80 issues, thrived overseas long after the end of the American comic, with the UK version running for 332 issues.
Though they are significantly different in the wildly popular re-imagining of <i>Battlestar Galactica</i>, the Cylons were originally an empire of robots built by a reptilian species, also called Cylons, who were destroyed by their bloodthirsty creations centuries before the series began. <p>Though there were numerous types of Cylons in the original <i>Battlestar Galactica</i>, the most iconic of these were the Centurious, the footsoldiers of the Cylons whose crested heads with dancing red lights are instantly recognizable. (Updated versions also appeared on the recent series.) According to the comic books published by Maximum Press years after the show ended, the Cylons were transformed into robots by making a pact with a cosmic, demonic entity.
The Terminators are a series of robots built for war, and sent back in time to kill or protect people who will influence the future from which they have traveled. First appearing in 1984's <i>The Terminator</i>, the T-800 was a Terminator originally sent back in time to kill Sarah Connor, though he later returned in box office smash <i>Terminator 2: Judgment Day</i> to protect her and her son John Connor from the more advanced and villainous T-1000. <p>The Terminators have appeared in several other film sequels, as well as a short-lived television show, and also branched into comics where Terminators, primarily the T-800, have faced off against and teamed up with other Sci-Fi icons like the Predators, the Xenomorph Aliens, and Robocop.
Amazo is an android (or series of androids) built by the villainous Professor Ivo to challenge the Justice League. Appearing just two issues after the JLA made their debut, Amazo is one of the team's earliest and most deadly foes. <p>Designed with the awesome ability to steal and replicate the powers of his enemies, Amazo has menaced the JLA in various incarnations for over 50 years. Most recently, he has appeared again fighting the Justice League in DC's New 52, this time with his origin closely tied to that of Justice League member Cyborg.
Built by Bolivar Trask to protect humanity from what he saw as the growing threat of mutantkind, the Sentinels are a series of massive robots designed to hunt, capture, and kill mutants. Having fought the X-Men and other mutants since their earliest days, the Sentinels have come in many forms, and evolved many times, but none are as iconic as their original, gigantic robot forms. <p>Having appeared in most of the X-Men's stories in other media, the only hurdle still left for them is film. Though they had a brief cameo in the Danger Room sequence in <i>X-Men: The Last Stand</i>, their first major film appearance is scheduled for <i>X-Men: Days of Future Past</I>, which is based on a story where a future world is policed by Sentinels, and many X-Men are dead.
One of comicdom's original killer robots, Brainiac is an artificial intelligence created by the alien Computer Tyrants of Colu to infiltrate and conquer other worlds. Quickly going rogue, Brainiac began his conquest by taking over his own home world before expanding into other parts of the galaxy. <p>In his undying quest for knowledge, Brainiac began plundering alien cultures, stealing their data, and often, even shrinking and capturing portions of their planets. The latter is what brought him into conflict with Superman, whom Brainiac sought after stealing and bottling the city of Kandor from Krypton before its destruction. Brainiac's pursuit of Superman has lead to countless clashes between brains and brawn, the most recent of which was a central element of Grant Morrison's relaunch of <i>Action Comics</i> in The New 52.
Ultron is the greatest killer robot in comics partially because of his legacy of stark brutality against humankind, but also because of the tragedy of his origins, and his relationship to his foes, the Avengers. Ultron was created by founding Avenger Hank Pym as an experiment to benefit humanity, who did not foresee the way his creation would evolve, nor the lives that would be lost as a result of Ultron's rebellion. <P>Over the years, Ultron has evolved his physical form to the point of near indestructibility. His quest to end organic life has lead him to form several incarnations of the Masters of Evil, and even construct the Vision, his only redeeming act — the Vision betrayed his master, became a hero and an Avengers mainstay. Though he masterminded the events of <b>Age of Ultron</b> from behind the scenes, the height of his murderous campaign came when he conquered an entire country, slaughtering every human in its borders and using their organic material as fuel. <p>It doesn't get much more killer robot than that.