Dr. Emil Hamilton was a scientist who worked with the United States military branch DARPA. Hamilton was present alongside with the military when an extraterrestrial signal was detected on Ellesmere Island, Canada. He was also one of the first people to meet the alien Superman after the latter's debut to the world. With his scientific expertise, Hamilton greatly contributed to the ultimate defeat of General Zod's alien invasion, though at the cost of also getting sucked into the Phantom Zone himself.
Hamilton identified alien signals and coordinated with the United States Army to discover their secrets. Searching began in Ellesmere Island, Canada where he searched for the source of the signal. Unable to find the cause of the signal, an enormous alien spacecraft rose from beneath sheets of ice that was tens of thousands of years old and flew far away. Not long after a larger alien spaceship entered Earth's orbit.
General Calvin Swanwick reached the control room and Hamilton told him of the preceding events. A military clampdown procedure began at Swanwick's behest, but subsequently an extraterrestrial message was simultaneously broadcast across the world by the Kryptonian megalomaniacal military leader, General Zod, who was in pursuit of a lost fellow member of his race named "Kal-El", and that the world would pay if the latter wasn't handed over or surrendered himself to Zod. Kal-El voluntarily handed himself in to the American military and was put in a cross-examination room. Hamilton began to ask Kal-El questions, before the alien spoke with Swanwick, telling him that he was not their enemy (fearing that General Zod was), but warned him that they would never control him.
Reporter Lois Lane spoke with Kal-El inside the room, with him relaying some information regarding his Kryptonian heritage to her, while Hamilton and Swanwick overheard. The alien was subsequently handed over to General Zod's forces by the military. Later, Kal-El (now dubbed "Superman") defeated Zod’s minions when they attacked Smallville, Kansas and Lois Lane conveyed Jor-El's plot to destroy Zod's ship to Hamilton and Colonel Hardy. They took Superman’s ship aboard a plane and flew to Metropolis where Zod's forces were attacking the city with a gigantic gravity beam. Faora jumped aboard their plane, threw out Lois and was about to kill Hamilton and Hardy shortly thereafter. In desperation, Hamilton finally managed activate the Phantom Drive with the House of El command key that Lois had previously tried to insert, just as Hardy flew the plane directly into Zod’s ship kamikaze-style, sucking his forces into the Phantom Zone, through a Phantom energy singularity, though sucking in himself and Hamilton as well, with only Lois surviving, due to the timely intervention of a returned Superman.
Emil Hamilton is quite friendly, calm, and diplomatic, politely shaking Lois Lane's hand upon first meeting her (unlike the more hostile Colonel Hardy and General Swanwick), and showing the least hostility and unease when meeting Superman. Hamilton is also utterly dedicated to science, since while he was extremely determined to help save the world from the terraforming World Engine, he viewed this as "the experiment of a lifetime" first and foremost. In addition, Hamilton was extremely courageous, not faltering when the fearsome Faora jumped aboard the plane he was on, and instead stubbornly continuing his plan to active the Phantom Drive.
- Genius-level Intellect: Dr. Hamilton is extremely intelligent, occasionally offering crucial insights to General Swanwick, which allowed the US army to successfully aid Superman in fighting off General Zod's invasion.
- Expert Scientist: Dr. Hamilton was a brilliant and experienced DARPA scientist (in physics, seismology, engineering, and possibly other fields), with him quickly understanding the science behind the two Phantom Drives' collision after just a few explanatory words from Superman (comparing it to black hole singularity), almost instantly understanding the function of the World Engine after seeing it in action (explaining it to General Swanwick and others), and successfully adjusting a crucial panel on Superman's infant starship (making the insertion of the Command Key possible), despite being barely familiar with the sophisticated alien technology behind it.
- Human Vulnerabilities: Dr. Hamilton's greatest weakness is that he is a human with no enhanced strength, speed, durability, or metahuman powers, therefore making him quite vulnerable to the physical attacks of stronger and more powerful opponents. Hamilton, however, usually compensates for this quite well with his brilliant intellect and scientific expertise, knowing to hide behind Superman's infant starship until Faora became otherwise occupied, before continuing his attempt to activate the Phantom Drive.
As a respected DARPA scientist, Dr. Hamilton has access to all of the equipment and apparatus that the agency is equipped with.
Behind the scenes
- In the DC Comics universe, various incarnations of Emil Hamilton have ranged from that of a trusted ally to Superman and his colleagues to one who is cautious and mistrustful of Superman and his power and to that of an unambiguous villain.