Astro Boy, whose real name is Atom, is a powerful boy robot created by the head of the Ministry of Science, known as Doctor Tenma. He created him in order to replace his dead son, Tobio, after he died in a car accident. In fact, Dr. Tenma built Atom to resemble Tobio phsycially, and he treated him as if he were his real son. In time however, Dr. Tenma realized that Atom could not fill the void left over from the loss of his son since Atom could not grow or appreciate human qualities in the same way as a real child. As a result, Dr. Tenma rejected Atom, who then ranaway and innocently signed himself over to a cruel circus owner named Hamegg. Hamegg used androids in his show for the amusement of others, and was often very abusive of them.
After suffering in Hamegg's circus for an extended period, Atom met Professor Ochanomizu, the new head of the Ministry of Science. The Professor managed to make Hamegg turn the android over to him and became Atom's legal guardian. He soon realized that the boy robot was gifted with great powers, and that remarkably he was also able to experience human emotions.
Under Professor Ochanomizu's guidance, Atom used his powers to fight crime and injustice, such as prejudice since most of his enemies were robot-hating humans. He became known as Astro Boy, the world's greatest superhero, and went on to fight everything from robots gone mad, to alien invaders.
Astro Boy, called Tetsuwan Atomu (meaning "Mighty Atom") in Japanese, was first shown on Japanese TV in 1963. That original series, which ran for three years, is considered the first series to embody the aesthetic that became known as anime. The character itself however, originated in a manga from 1951 by Osamu Tezuka.
Dark Horse Comics
Dark Horse published the first English version of Astro Boy in 2002. The stories followed the original Japanese, Tetsuwan Atomu, almost exactly but with the artwork flipped so they read from left to right for the Western readers. It was translated by Frederik L. Schodt, who retained most of the Japanese names and kept the storyline set in Japan. It was Schodt who gave Astro Boy his English name rather than calling him Mighty Atom because he felt that a Japanese character called Atom in an American comic was "going against too much history".
In 2003 there was a manga published based on Osamu Tezuka's "The Greatest Robot On Earth" Astro Boy story. Unlike the original, this one is not told with Astro Boy as the main character but another robot Gesicht. Astro is a former peace ambassador toward the end of the 39th Middle East War and was created by Tenma after losing his own son. The series is about an investigation of murders of WMD robots and those responsible for creating them along with dealing with the suggestion that a robot is committing these murders despite the fact that robots cannot bring harm to a human. When Gesicht first meets Astro to warn him that the killer is targeting the seven most powerful robots in the world and that he may be in danger, he notes how his sensors are having trouble picking up whether he's a human or robot child. They also converse about Astro's tendency to eat ice cream as an act despite the fact that he can't taste or needs to consume it along with his want for a toy a boy was using while passing by the window. All of these things surprised Gesicht and he admits that Astro's A.I. is much more advance than his.
Later in the series Astro, in an attempt to save his sister, takes on Pluto, the mysterious murderous robot with weather manipulating ability and dies doing so. The world mourns Astro while he's dead, but it's later revealed that he's in a more catatonic state due to his perfect A.I. Tenma returns to reactivate Astro and reveals that Astro will not revive anytime soon due to his artificial intelligence taking an infinite amount of consideration in picking out of six billion or so personalities and that there was only one way to revive Astro. Inject extreme emotion into him but this can have an adverse reaction and the Astro that wakes from the state that he's in could turn out to be evil instead of the good Astro that fought Pluto. The procedure was done using a copy of Gesicht's brain, who had extreme hatred in his memories and eventually Astro awoke.
Initially he was unresponsive until he asked for a pen. With the pen he etched the equation for the end of the world in the form of a weapon known as an Anti-Proton Bomb. Shortly after, he burst through the wall and escaped Japan's Ministry of Science building where he came to his senses while picking up a snail much like the day when he met Gesicht. After meeting with Gesicht's wife, Astro took off to the United States of Thracia where he would face Pluto in Eden Park. After a battle, Astro unwillingly broadcasts Gesicht's dying thoughts: "Nothing is born of hatred." The thought brought the two combatants to tears and they eventually stopped fighting until a volcano became agitated at the park. Pluto and Astro face off against Goji, another creation of Tenma who didn't know he was a robot and planted an Anti-Proton Bomb inside a large pocket of magma and a robot that Goji had transferred his mind into called Bora.
Pluto eventually tosses Astro from the erupting volcano and sacrifices himself to save the world, using his power to freeze the erupting supervolcano and the Anti-Proton Bomb's detination all in one fell swoop. The story ends with Astro mourning Pluto and those he killed and Astro being left as the Greatest Robot in the World.