The Mother Boxes were first introduced into DC Comics in Jack Kirby’s 1987 series The Forever People. Essentially, they are portable, powerful, partially organic supercomputers that can only be made by those born on New Genesis or Apokolips.
The Mother Boxes were first created by the Apokolyptic scientist Himon using a component referred to as Element X. Mother Boxes provide immense power to their wielders which include wormhole teleportation (“Boom Tubes”), healing, premonition, energy blasts, energy absorption, and a danger sense. That doesn’t mean that this alien technology makes any sense.
10 Lack Of Free Will
Taking into consideration the vast amount of power a Mother Box possesses and the fact that it is self-aware, it is insane that they are constantly being used as a mere weapon in DC comics. One would think a superintelligent entity like this would take map its own course rather than be used by other beings for their own purposes.
There is no doubt that the Mother Boxes provide their users with immense power and abilities. Their utility isn’t in question. However, sentient beings wielding this kind of power make more sense as antagonists or protagonists. As it stands, they aren’t even sidekicks.
9 How Is It Partially Alive?
The Mother Boxes are considered to be partially-living supercomputers, which in itself does not make sense. An entity is either living or not, The notion that a Mother Box is somewhat living and somewhat not is confusing, to say the least. It would make more sense if the Mother Boxes were either an advanced weapon or a living advanced being. Marvel’s Infinity Stones have tremendous power but are not considered to be living. Brainiac is a living supercomputer within DC Comics who is fully alive and aware, unlike the Mother Boxes which somehow have a part of them that is considered to be a machine. The fact that the Mother Boxes are relatively passive solves many problems for writers, but still leaves readers wondering what it means to be “a little bit” alive.
8 The New Gods’ Understanding Of Their Powers
In DC Comics, the abilities and uses of the Mother Boxes are not completely understood by their manufacturers. Who are gods. How can someone create something they don’t comprehend?
The mere fact that Mother Boxes are manufactured means they should be understood by their creators. The New Gods go through intense training to manufacture these machines. They should at least have a relative understanding of the tools they depend on for almost every aspect of their divine lives.
7 The Name
The name Mother Box suggests that they can only be found in the form of a Box which is not true. In DC Comics, Mr. Miracle had his Mother Box woven into the hood of his outfit. While they are creative, and mothers are associated with creation, they are also not usually portrayed as maternal. DC needs to either lean into the name completely, envisioning a computer that spawns constant wonders, or needs to find a name that better reflects the way Mother Boxes are used as weapons and transportation.
6 The Ping
The Mother Boxes communicate with their users only using a repetitive ping. Surely a supercomputer that can calculate the shape of space and time on a cosmic level is also capable of language? The ‘Ping’ is a nifty shorthand that lets readers easily recognize a Mother Box, whatever shape it takes, but it’s a weird limitation for a machine that seems to have transcended language to have.
The Mother Boxes get destroyed within the comics at certain points in time, but how can that be considering their powers of premonition? Wouldn’t a Mother Box be able to predict its own impending demise?
In the comics, only one Mother Box (Shilo Norman’s, the third Mister Miracle) survived the destruction of Apokolips and New Genesis. It would have made more sense for quite a few of them to survive and help their users avoid the impending fall of Apokolips and New Genesis altogether.
4 Energy Transfers
The relationship between a Mother Box and its user is very intimate. A Mother Box can transfer energy to its user and the user can do the same for their Mother Box through affection, but only once a day. This limitation makes perfect sense for game balance in an RPG but is nonsense in this context. Why would an alien supercomputer be restored by emotional energy, but only once every 24 hours? It’s not even from our galaxy, much less our world!
3 How Do You Lend A Mother Box?
Mother Boxes have a close bond with their masters. In the comics, they have sometimes self-destructed after their owners died. Even so, in the comics, Superman was given a Mother Box by Oberon to track down Doomsday after his rebirth on Apokolips. Given their close bonds to their creators, it’s odd that they can be separated from their users so easily, and with no obvious consequences.
2 Resurrecting The Dead
Justice League director Zack Synder revealed that Cyborg would be unable to resurrect his mother because her body had decomposed. He further explains that Clark’s Kryptonian body was brought back to life because it did not decompose the same way a dead human would. It’s not like resurrection is unheard of in comics. Machines, spirits, spells, and entities that can restore life to the dead are practically commonplace in superhero stories. Even so, the contradiction that a Mother Box can return Victor Stone to life based on a few scraps of DNA, but can’t do the same for his mother is too much.
The Mother Boxes’ powers within the comics seem limitless. Characters are able to use them for anything they can imagine unless it ruins the plot. The Mother Boxes’s powers include energy manipulation, machine control, danger sense, life sense, omniscience, Omni-knowledge & teleportation. In the MCU, the Infinity Stones have clear limits on their abilities, but the Mother Boxes seem to vary between Boom-Tube generators and computerized capital-G Gods. Perhaps not all alien supercomputers are created equal, but it should be possible for audiences to understand what a given Mother Box can do.
The DC universe is filled with inexplicable, alien devices, but none are so confusing in what they do as the infamous Mother Boxes.