Splash page from "The Ruler of Earth" in Journey into Mystery #81 (June 1962), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Dick Ayers
He's a mean machine who's large and in charge! He's not a fighter nor a lover, and he looks quite diff'rent on the cover.
Cover of Journey into Mystery #81 (June 1962), script by Stan Lee or Larry Lieber (?) pencils (and inks?) by Jack Kirby, colors by Stan Goldberg, letters by Artie Simek
Now, you may remember all this from when it actually happened in 1990, but let me fresh your memory, courtesy of the Jonathan and Martha Kent of 1990 and their flying space-car. Yes, after this scene they discovered a rocket from outer space crashing into the field and they took home the pantless young baby within it. And that baby grew up to be...the New 52 Superman. So you see what a nightmare
Huh, look like this is the Earth that Superman: The Quest for Peace took place on. But it wasn't always that way. Here's a further flashback. Yes, this entire story is flashback within flashback. It's got more levels than a matryoshka doll! Here's a guy in a purple suit (well, you've got to admitit's better than a green suit) argues that they should elect a giant rock 'em, sock 'em robot as their world leader! You know, I can definitely see that actually happening halfway through the George Bush administration.
Construction on this mighty computer begins on top of a tall mountain where it definitely will not be difficult and more expensive to get men and equipment up to, oh no. In other news, the Hulk is coming!
Also, they are installing a special "tube" to ensure world peace forever. A special tube, everyone. Me, I'm just hoping that special tube is Fee Waybill.
And thus this giant computer shall be named...ROE! Named after the ripe egg masses in the ovaries of fish. Luckily those initials could also be used to spell out Ruler of Earth! Yep, step aside, Hulk Hogan...the new king is in town!
And "every hour, on the hour, so long as it exists, it utters twelve special words." Listen!:
Come on, vogue! Vogue! Let your body move to the music! Hey!
So, welcome to a world ruled by R.O.E., where nothing could possibly go worng.
But no! R.O.E. cannot be corrupted! With his 4K of memory and Tandy audiocassette data system, R.O.E. remains pristine! For he is inferior to man, for he is only a mere machine!
His innate computer-driven morality, however, did not prevent R.O.E., when his story was reprinted in a 1970s Marvel monster mag, from gettin' a bitchin' cherry-red repaint job!
Panels from Where Monsters Dwell #25 (November 1973)
Which completely explains why the Ruler of Earth is bright red when Deadpool comes along.
Panel from Deadpool (2103 series) #20 (February 2014), script by Gerry Duggan and Brian Posehn, pencils and inks by Scott Koblish, colors by Val Staples, letters by Joe Sabino
The Ruler of the Earth (who has obviously picked up that second definite article somewhere along the way) sends Deadpool on a scavenger hunt to find the missing pieces of the cosmic puzzle! (And yes, that is Sledpool that he's riding.)
It has really no effect on the rest of the story, but during the adventure Earth's moon is destroyed. Whoops. That's always happenin' (see: Thundarr the Barbarian).
Which is bad news for anyone who lives on the moon: Clementine Taplin, the Clangers, Sailor Moon, and, oh yeah, this guy:
Assembling the Cosmic Puzzle produces a cosmic space baby, yes, just like in 2001 which, yes, I know, Kirby did a series of and I have to start mining for some really keen moon tech. In the meantime, here's the R.O.t.E., Deadpool, the Cosmic Space Baby, the Watcher, and, for some reason, Odin, all assembling in Asgard at the end of the story!
Purpose of the Space Baby: to poop! Well, it is what babies do best.
Did you ever wonder what energy the extra-dimensional realm of Asgard is powered by? Wonder no more, true believer! remember: it's canon, fanboys!
And so we say goodbye once again, until one or two of next summer's big Avengers crossover events, to the Ruler of [the] Earth!
Whew! I'm glad that story was only fiction and that our Earth has never been ruled over by a giant, imposing, massive computer-slash-building run by the power of tubes, right? Right?