Ralph Roberts was a former employee of Tony Stark who left the company when Mr. Stark would not divulge the secret to Iron Man's armor. He created Roberts Research Lab and experimented with cobalt amongst other things. He created a version of Iron Man's suit out of a cobalt alloy, although due to a head injury, he became power mad and somewhat insane. He continued to develop his armor, adding oxygen tanks for breathing in the vacuum of space. Due to excessive radiation exposure, his body grew in size, strength, durability, and color--that color being blue.
Cobalt Man was created by Roy Thomas and Werner Roth in 1967 and first appeared in X-Men # 31.
Major Story Arcs
Versus the X-Men
While visiting his younger brother Ted at Metro College, Ralph hit his head when his stick broke during a pole vaulting contest with his brother. Shortly afterward, the two of them along with Jean Grey and Scott Summers headed back to Ralph's research lab, where he showed them some of the stuff he was working on. Ralph showed his younger brother a secret project he was working on: Ralph's version of Iron Man's suit made out of cobalt alloy. Ralph put on the suit despite suffering from a terrible headache from his fall earlier that day. He became a different person and knocked out his brother. Ralph ranted how Iron Man was a traitor and that he needed to stop him. Ralph started to destroy his own lab until he was confronted by Marvel Girl and Cyclops. Ralph managed to escape and the two X-Men attended to Ted. They discovered that Ralph was headed towards Stark Industries and that he was a walking timebomb. Ralph's armor would produce the radioactive cobalt-60 if it was worn for more than two hours and would explode when it reached critical mass. The rest of the X-Men would battle the Cobalt Man near a bridge. They managed to defeat him when Iceman froze his power pack and Cyclops hit him with his optic blast. The blast melted the ice around his power pack and the water short circuited his power source. The Cobalt Man fell off the bridge and was caught by Angel before he plunged into the water below. Ralph realized he almost destroyed the group because of his head injury and that the suit was too dangerous for most men to handle.
Ralph met the X-Men once again after he was kidnapped by Tyrannus. They wanted him for his specialty with cobalt alloys and to use his abilities to help him defeat his arch-foe, the Mole Man. Tyrannus discovered that the Mole Man created a giant robot made out of solid diamond so he created his own metal giant and wanted Ralph to coat his latest creation with his new, superior cobalt alloy. Ted called the X-Men and asked for their help to get his brother. They traveled deep into the Earth's surface and came across the Mole Man and his Subterraneans. They formed a brief alliance to battle Tyrannus and help get Ralph back. Tyrannus and Mole Man sent their giant robots to battle each other. The X-Men also engaged Tyrannus' robot and it was destroyed when it fell into a lava pit. Ralph secretly sabotaged the robot by mixing substances with low heat resistance into its cobalt armor making it vulnerable to extreme heat. The X-Men defeated Tyrannus and managed to save Ralph Roberts again.
Versus the Hulk
Years later, Ralph had improved his cobalt-powered suit for a mission in which he planned to ride into the path of a H-bomb test. His plan was to take his freighter ship to a nearby island where a foreign country was planning to do a H-bomb test in the ocean. The Hulk was a stowaway on the ship, because he had broken into it before it left port while escaping from military forces. He smashed through the radiation-proof metal shield and transformed back to Banner when he fell asleep behind some crates in the lower deck. Ted Roberts snuck onto the ship hoping to stop his brother from his crazy mission and found Banner. They stayed hidden until they were discovered by some of the crew members the next morning. Ralph told them he was going to test out his improved suit, but that was a lie. When they arrived near the test site, he told everyone to go below while he remained topside. He told his crew he was going to be a martyr and expose himself to the blast. His brother tried to stop him, but Banner tackled him and the H-bomb exploded. They were surprised to see Ralph still standing there and took him into a room when he collapsed. Ralph began to physically change while in bed. Ralph's body increased in size and his skin was radiating a blue glow. Ralph changed into his cobalt suit and attacked members of his crew. This led to a confrontation with the Hulk and the two men destroyed the ship in the process. The Hulk transformed back to Banner during the fight and was trapped in the ship as it began to sink into the ocean. He was saved by the Cobalt Man because Ralph believed they were too much alike and that they were both victims of radiation and had to stick together. Banner was taken aboard a lifeboat and the Cobalt Man left to fulfill his mission.
Months prior to this mission, Ralph had been working on his old cobalt armor when there was an explosion and he was bathed in more radiation. The doctor told him the radiation he picked up from his previous work and from the explosion would kill him within a year. That's when Ralph wanted to expose to the world the madness and dangers of nuclear energy. He wanted to teach them a lesson by destroying a city with a nuclear explosion. Ralph was amazed with his new powers and how it was flowing in his cells, his genes and how the energy was helping him evolve. Cobalt Man arrived in Sydney, Australia and started to destroy everything in his path. He planned to build up his energies until it reached critical mass and take him and the city down in one catastrophic explosion. The Hulk reached the Cobalt Man and the two engaged in a slug-fest. During the fight, Ralph was sick of the Hulk interfering with his plans so he grabbed the green giant from behind and took off into the upper atmosphere. The Cobalt Man went a bit further and took the Hulk outside the Earth's atmosphere. Ralph's suit began to glow and was reaching critical mass. He realized that he had stayed in space for too long and his suit exploded. The Hulk survived the blast but the Cobalt Man was gone and presumed dead.
Emissaries of Evil
Ralph was not killed in the explosion, but instead placed into a state of suspended animation where he floated aimlessly in space. He was found by Egghead whoe planned to use the Cobalt Man and his Emissaries of Evil to retrieve a mystical object called the Star of Capistan. The Cobalt Man was placed under Egghead's mental control and was intended to be used as a decoy against the Defenders. His plan was to activate a nuclear breakdown within the Cobalt Man to destroy the Defenders, leaving Egghead free to find the Star of Capistan. Cobalt Man was taken down by the Hulk, Power Man, Valkyrie and Nighthawk. Ralph's suit began to radiate as he laid motionless and was close to detonating. Nighthawk guided the Hulk to grab Cobalt Man and drop him into the New York river where atomic piles were built underwater. This caused Cobalt Man's nuclear reaction to slow down until it no longer reached critical level. Cobalt Man was freed of Egghead's mental control with the help of Dr. Belinsky and Clea. Meanwhile, Egghead infiltrated Dr. Strange's townhouse and managed to take down the Hulk, Nighthawk and Valkyrie with his gadgets. Cobalt Man was revived and recognized the man that made him his tool. He grabbed Egghead and a contained nuclear implosion took place and both men were gone.
However, Ralph survived yet again and eventually became a prisoner at Ryker's. He managed to escape with other super villains during Electro's mass breakout. He stayed low with three other criminals: Speedfreek, Coldheart and Nitro in a house in Stamford. They were discovered by the New Warriors who were filming a reality show at the time. The group was spotted by Coldheart and a fight took place. During the fight, Nitro unleashed a powerful blast, killing the superhumans and hundreds of innocent civilians. This action led to the creation of the Superhuman Registration Act and the Civil War event.
Another Cobalt Man would surface and battle Captain Marvel but it turned out to be a Skrull imposter.
Cobalt Man was in a story taking place in the Marvel Adventures comics, which are standalone stories and do not take place in the current Marvel Universe continuity.
Egghead formed a team consisting of Cobalt Man, Xeron the Starslayer, Gargantua, Psycho Man, Invincible Man and Basilisk to take down the Fantastic Four. Egghead and his team wanted to gather as much information on the Fantastic Four as they could before heading into battle. They were able to steal some FF uniforms and spray millions of subatomic cameras onto the fabric. Egghead and his team would sell photos and information gathered from the Fantastic Four to the paparazzi, particularly a tabloid newspaper called the Super Hero Trumpet.
Powers & Abilities
Ralph Roberts is a former college athlete, a champion of his day. He set the record for touchdown passes in football. He also competed in pole-vaulting. As a scientist, Ralph was a genius in nuclear physics. He was also a skilled inventor. He built the Cobalt Man armor, a Super-Cobalt robot and an Earth-Borer craft which was suitable for subterranean exploration.
His original armor granted him Iron Man-like abilities, including flight, superhuman strength (able to lift 10 tons), and durability. His main weapons were recoil beams, able to destroy entire vehicles with a single blast. The second version of his armor contained oxygen tanks, allowing the wearer to survive in the vacuum of space.
Radiation transformed Ralph into a nuclear powerhouse. His body increased in size and gained superhuman strength and durability. His skin color turned blue. In combination with his armor, Cobalt Man is near-equal in strength to the Hulk. He can redirect the energies within him to emit blasts of concussive force and give him the ability to fly.
His suit is composed of a cobalt alloy which is capable of withstanding blows from the Hulk and also has air tanks that allow him to breathe underwater or in space for a few hours.