H.E.R.B.I.E. was created by Mister Fantastic and Master Xar of the Xandarians, who hoped that the robot could aid their search for Galactus, who they sought for aid in defeating the villain known as the Sphinx.
What neither of the creators realized; however, was that Doctor Sun, an enemy of Master Xar who had his consciousness trapped within Xandarian computers, was able to escape by jumping from the computer to H.E.R.B.I.E.'s body. The little robot was his sleeper agent, whom he could control whenever he wished. Although an alien pirate mysteriously died in H.E.R.B.I.E.'s presence, and the villain Blastaar suddenly escaped from the Negative Zone, nobody suspected that H.E.R.B.I.E. was responsible.
After Sun's attempt to assassinate the Fantastic Four with Blastaar failed, Dr. Sun revealed himself at last, trapping the Invisible Woman and the Human Torch within the Baxter Building's security system and besting Mister Fantastic and the Thing with H.E.R.B.I.E.'s weapons. He then abandoned H.E.R.B.I.E.'s body and transferred his consciousness into the Baxter Building's main computer, which would allow him to control the entire building, and all of the weaponry within. Fortunately, Mister Fantastic was able to lock Dr. Sun away from the rest of the computer system, but H.E.R.B.I.E., now himself again, realized that Dr. Sun could always simply return to his body. Not wanting the villain to cause any more trouble, the little robot heroically threw himself into the computer, destroying it, Dr. Sun, and himself.
Other H.E.R.B.I.E. robots were eventually built throughout the years, serving general duties around the Baxter Building. H.E.R.B.I.E. also served as the guardian and companion for young Franklin Richards.
- Robot: Cybernetic interface that can connect to any computer system, electricity generators, lasers, various hidden tools and features.
- Flight: The non-humanoid model was able to fly.
- When the Fantastic Four was made into an animated series in 1978, the character of the Human Torch was unable to be used, as at the time the character had been optioned separately for use in a solo movie, which never in fact materialized. A popular urban myth contends that the Torch was replaced due to fears that children might attempt to emulate him by setting themselves on fire, but this is not true.
- Needing a fourth member to round out the team, Stan Lee pitched the idea for a cute robot sidekick, and artist Dave Cockrum was commissioned to design it; however, Cockrum disliked the character so much he was eventually replaced by Jack Kirby, who first designed and illustrated the Fantastic Four a decade earlier.
- In the Fantastic Four cartoon, H.E.R.B.I.E. was voiced by veteran voice actor Frank Welker.
- Shortly after the Fantastic Four cartoon premiered in the 1970's, the little robot was introduced to the comics continuity by writer Marv Wolfman and artist John Byrne. As within the Marvel Universe the Fantastic Four have marketed their likenesses for a successful in-universe comic series, H.E.R.B.I.E.'s physical appearance was likewise explained as being based on the animated series based on that comic.
- H.E.R.B.I.E. has been largely disliked by many Earth-616 Fantastic Four fans, not only because he replaced a major character, but because he was designed to be "cute" and many consider him more annoying than cute. This is often considered an incidence of "jumping the shark."
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- Highly Engineered Robot Built for Interdimensional Exploration (Earth-616) at Wikipedia.org
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