The Metal Men! Gold. Platinum. Tin. Iron. Mercury. Lead. Robots created by the brilliant Will Magnus with minds of their own, souls even.
But what if…
(What, not even gold teeth? And let’s hope the JLA never bring Snapper Carr along to a team-up… mind, that’s what everyone hopes anyway.)
Yep, the latest Metal Men limited series is taking the EYTYKWW! – ‘everything you thought you knew was wrong!’ – route. Doc Magnus doesn’t keep rebuilding his metal pals, good as new, he makes new ones. And it’s all about his self-hatred.
OK, I’m not delighted with this revelation. Sure, Doc has had his problems over the years but to have the Metal Men be, fundamentally, reflections of his angst? That’s a little depressing.
Not as depressing as the last time we had an EYTYKWW for the Metal Men, mind – a Nineties revamp told us the robots actually contained the personalities of dead loved ones and employees of Magnus. By the end of that run he too was a robot. Happily, this has pretty much been ignored ever since.
Would I like this series to go the same route? I doubt it will be necessary. After all, we’re getting the Big Revelation in the first issue and we’re due a whole year of books from writer Dan DiDio (who did a great job with the team in Wednesday Comics), penciller Shane Davis and friends. Anything could happen, the Metal Men could be truly sentient by the end. More likely, the close will coincide with the coming Crisis, and it’ll be a case of Everything You Thought You Knew Was Right, Actually.
So I’m thinking positively, enjoying the good stuff and not worrying too much about the where of the team members’ personalities. After all, each has traditionally been defined by one characteristic – Mercury is hot-headed, Tin meek, Tina desperate for love and so on – and that still seems to be the case. By the end of this opening chapter the understandably upset Metal Men are set to be rebuilt once more, with the same old personalities. Works for me!
And it’s not like Doc Magnus was the full shilling if you thought about it, with his Pygmalion tendencies towards poor, desperate-to-be-loved Tina. It’s just good to see the teenybopper technician of recent years is gone and the pipe is back!
What also works is the inclusion of a beloved Metal Men character as Doc Magnus’ counsellor, and the first appearance of STAR Labs scientist Dr Jenet Klyburn in what must be decades (typically, when John Byrne was writing Superman he replaced her with an identikit character, Kitty Faulkner). Even a link to the infernal Metal business currently infecting DC’s line makes sense and looks set to spark a good story.
Then there’s this exceedingly clever line.
We also get the tasty art of Davis, inker Michelle Delecki and colourist Jason Wright. Magnus is a recognisable visual descendant of the Ross Andru/Mike Esposito original, while the Metal Men in flashbacks are totally on model. How about this for a flashback spread, dig those Responsometer-recalling panel shapes!
We also see their other looks from down the years, along with their most recent visuals from the New 52, a horribly awkward contrast to the sleek, simple originals.
The storytelling is terrific, with one reveal managing to be touching and creepy.
I do have one question, though…. what’s wrong with this picture?
OK, Tina could have been taking it, but there has to be more to it that that, I’m a comics fan! And we see the pic again later, still with Platinum absent. Hmmmm.
Travis Lanham is the letterer, and does a bang-up job… I don’t know if it was he who tweaked the classic logo, but I rather like the slick, italicised version on the snazzy cover by Davis, Delecki and NS Studio.
So, what do you think of the Metal Men’s return – base metal or riveting read?