H.E.R.B.I.E. (Humanoid Experimental Robot, B-type, Integrated Electronics) is a fictional character, a robot and an ally of the Fantastic Four in the Marvel Universe. The character was initially conceived for the 1978 Fantastic Four animated series and was integrated into the comics continuity shortly afterwards.
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 suspects that H.E.R.B.I.E. was responsible.
After Sun's attempt to assassinate the Fantastic Four with Blastaar failed, Dr. Sun reveals 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 abandons H.E.R.B.I.E.'s body and transfers 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 is able to lock Dr. Sun away from the rest of the computer system, but H.E.R.B.I.E., now himself again, realizes that Dr. Sun could always simply return to his body. Not wanting the villain to cause any more trouble, the little robot heroically throws himself into the computer, destroying it, Dr. Sun, and himself.
Later, Franklin is shown with another H.E.R.B.I.E robot, that Ben refers to as a 'flying frog'. It is explained that this one had been built partly to keep an eye on Franklin's developing powers. Said powers fluctuate due to Franklin's failure to solve a Rubik's Cube and a nearby TV show urging someone to 'grow up'. The resulting power surge destroys H.E.R.B.I.E.
Other H.E.R.B.I.E. robots are eventually built throughout the years, serving general duties around the Baxter Building. Most recently, on the pages of Marvel Knights Fantastic Four, H.E.R.B.I.E. has served as the guardian and companion for young Franklin Richards.
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 previous. On the Fantastic Four cartoon, H.E.R.B.I.E. was voiced by Frank Welker. Shortly after the cartoon premiered, 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.
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