Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Robot Brain and the Observatory-Lab

The Observatory-Lab was the workplace of Professor Mark Erdel and his lab assistant, Fred Schneider. It appeared to be developed from out of a lighthouse, based on its unusual shape and location near a cliff. Within the lab, Erdel constructed "The Robot Brain," a "strange, humming contraption, dotted with twinkling lights," which "crackles and buzzes" when in full operation. The bulky equipment filled much of a room, with its purpose being to explore "the cosmos... other dimensions... reach into space-- time-- or the fourth dimension..." How close it came to fulfilling its directives is unknown, but it most famously plucked out a scientist from just one planet over, teleporting J'onn J'onzz from Mars to Earth over long moments in a vivid flash. Erdel suffered a fatal heart attack soon after, and J'onzz struggled for years to decipher the Robot Brain's workings.

While the Observatory-Lab's location was long kept vague, it eventually became clear that it was near Middletown, U.S.A., serving as the home of J'onn J'onzz for several years during his stint in the identity of local police detective John Jones. The lab suffered a terrific fire in 1959 during an altercation between J'onzz and the forces of his archenemy, Commander Blanx. The Robot Brain appeared to be rendered slag, although J'onzz later made use of a similar device, so it was presumably rebuilt for his 1960s adventures.

The Observatory-Lab was also restored at some point, but had been long abandoned before being revisited by Hawkman and Hawkgirl in 1981. The former Thanagarian policeman Katar Hol had decided to investigate discrepancies in the death of Mark Erdel. He eventually learned that Erdel had in fact been murdered by the Robot Brain, which had gained some semblance of sentience. Desiring to teleport its intelligence "to roam the universe at will," the Robot Brain sent an electrical shock to trigger Erdel's heart attack to allow itself unfettered access to travel. It is unknown how J'onn J'onzz's work on the brain had impacted its designs, or why it proved more inhibited in addressing the Martian.

Regardless, the Robot Brain teleported a wyrdbeast from Alpha Centauri to kill the Hawks, but the intelligence was instead seemingly destroyed by Hawkman's mace, which caused the wyrdbeast to disappear.

Powers & Weapons:
According to Erdel, the Robot Brain required a "thinking plot" to be directed toward a specific location. After blindly teleporting J'onn J'onzz to Earth, Erdel feared it would take "weeks-- months-- even years" to change the thinking plot and return J'onzz home.

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