Mother Boxes are fictional devices in Jack Kirby's Fourth World setting in the DC Universe.
The Mother Boxes appeared in the feature film Justice League and Zack Snyder's Justice League of the DC Extended Universe.
Created by Apokoliptian scientist Himon using the mysterious Element X, they are generally thought to be sentient, miniaturized, portable supercomputers, although their true nature and origins are unknown. They possess wondrous powers and abilities not understood even by their users, the gods of New Genesis. These range from teleportation (they can summon Boom Tubes) to energy manipulation, and Mother Boxes have even been seen healing the injured, including Darkseid himself, after he was beaten by Doomsday. Metron stated that each Mother Box shares "a mystical rapport with nature". They provide their owner with unconditional love and self-destruct when their owner dies.
Mother Boxes have sacrificed themselves for causes they have believed in and are greatly respected by the people of New Genesis. In physical appearance they are most often in the shape of a small box, but they can also be much larger (as is the one carried by the Forever People), and do not always need to be in the shape of a box at all (Mr. Miracle had Mother Box circuitry woven into the hood of his costume). They usually communicate with a repetitive "ping!" which can be understood by their users.
Powers and abilities
Superman uses a Mother Box to get to Apokolips in Superman/Doomsday Hunter/Prey #1.
- Mother Boxes can access the energy of the Source for various effects; they can change the gravitational constant of an area, transfer energy from one place to another, sense danger, sense life, create force fields, rearrange molecular structure of matter, absorb or project powerful shock blasts, create electro-webs, control the mental state of a host, communicate telepathically with a host or other life form, manipulate the life-force of a host to sustain it past fatal injuries, open and close boom tubes, take over and control non-sentient machines, evolve non-sentient machines, merge sentient beings into a single more powerful being, sustain a life form in a hostile environment such as space, and do many other things. Mother Boxes can be seen as a computer that links man to God.
- To the New Gods, they are common appliances (used much like a PDA or smartphone on Earth), insofar as a sentient device can be called an "appliance". Other DC characters are given access to them at specific times, when they are in need of aid. Notably, Superman was given one when he went in pursuit of Doomsday.
- Mother Boxes can only be manufactured by a being born either on New Genesis or Apokolips, and not all of them can do it (at least one on Apokolips failed). This is accomplished through much training. It is implied in the books that the maker's character influences the successful construction of a Mother Box. This quality applied to all the Fourth World books (Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen; Forever People; New Gods; and Mister Miracle) at the time of their original run by Jack Kirby. In later versions of the previously mentioned books, and in other stories where elements from the Fourth World books (such as the Mother Box) were used, other writers altered the crafting and abilities of Mother Boxes to allow for their making and usage by humans and entities from other planets (such as Superman or Batman).
In a 2008 article, John Hodgman observed, "Mister Miracle, a warrior of Apokolips who flees to Earth to become a 'super escape artist', keeps a 'Mother Box' up his sleeve — a small, living computer that can enable its user to do almost anything, so long as it is sufficiently loved. In Kirby's world, all machines are totems: weapons and strange vehicles fuse technology and magic, and the Mother Box in particular uncannily anticipates the gadget fetishism that infects our lives today. (The Bluetooth headset may well be a Kirby creation.)" Similarly, Mike Cecchini on Den of Geek described the Mother Box as "an alien smartphone that can do anything from heal the injured to teleport you across time and space," and Christian Holub in Entertainment Weekly called it "basically a smartphone, as designed by gods." Motherboxes have also been interpreted as a symbol of the "ideal mother" and an example of the role of motherhood in Jack Kirby's Fourth World stories.
The Father Box is an Apokoliptian version of a Mother Box, which first appeared in the Orion series by Simonson in 2000. Darkseid's former aide Mortalla presents Orion with an Apokoliptian Father Box.
- In Grant Morrison's Seven Soldiers: Mister Miracle storyline, a Father Box is mentioned as one of the "Seven Treasures" the New Gods left to the Earth's first superhero. It came in the form of two dice. It was called "the Foundation Stone of Manhattan" in Manhattan Guardian and "Croatoan" in Klarion. Eventually, it was stolen by Klarion the Witch Boy, who took it to the future.
- In Justice League of America (vol. 2) #1 by Brad Meltzer, a villain named Doctor Impossible uses a Father Box to summon "hush tubes".
- In Supergirl (vol. 5) #15 Power Boy refers to and accesses his Father Box.
- In the Young Justice episode "Disordered", Desaad uses a Father Box to control the Infinity-Man until the New Genesphere joins with Infinity-Man to regain control of him. In the episode "The Hunt" Lex Luthor gives the runaways a Father Box to rescue the team and one to Deathstroke to retrieve the key to War World for The Light, but when the runaways discover Luthor's been using them, Asami Koizumi angrily destroys their Father Box.
- In Young Justice: Outsiders, Silas Stone uses a Father Box to save the life of Victor Stone, resulting in his being converted into a cyborg. Due to his anger at his father, the Father Box causes Victor to go on a rampage until Violet/Halo arrives and temporarily purges him of the Father Box's control. When Victor is introduced to the team, he is attacked by Sphere when it is mentioned he was converted into a cyborg with a Father Box, the attack re-asserting the Father Box's programming, until Violet re-purges him of the Father Box's control. Later, the Father Box takes control of Victor yet again and attacks Violet, but this time she was able to purge Victor of the Father Box's control for good.