After months of being denied fresh fantasies, the NEW comics have returned. Finally!
Like many of you, I have been re-reading tons of old trade paperbacks and various collected editions of my favorite characters: Avengers, Justice League, Superman, X-Men and, of course, the Metal Men.
Yes, the Metal Men, the robot creations of Doctor Will Magnus that started in the early 1960s and came in and out of fashion ever since. Reading those old comics, with their bizarre plots and weird characters, I wonder why so many people – myself included – have such an affection for them.
C’mon, giant robot alien dinosaurs, balloon people, giant robot centaurs? What were Bob Kanigher, Ross Andru and Mike Esposito smoking back then and where can I get some? Where most writers were bogged down with concepts like reality, these guys went nuts. But the stories were fun and readers, including me, became very invested in the characters. I cared about Tin, worried about Platinum, wanted to go have a beer with Iron and Lead. I liked these guys.
The one thing I noticed reading the series, beyond the ever-changing origins of the group, is how Doc Magnus treated his first robot, Platinum. He treated her badly, but it was clear that he loved her. Yet, he was always pushing her away, threatening to “kill” her, bringing girlfriends around to make her jealous. In short, he acted like a sixth grade boy with a crush.
He called her “Tina,” which is strange to begin with since none of the other Metal Men were given nicknames.
Doc’s actions were never explained, even in thought balloons. Why the love-hate relationship? Why treat her so badly when she was clearly in love? More importantly, why did he make her this way in the first place?
METAL MEN NO. 6, which came out this week, FINALLY answers all those questions.
Dan Didio, the recently ousted publisher of DC Comics, earned his place in Metal Men history with “Tina’s Story,” which answers all the questions that have percolated through the stories for decades.
Didio clearly loved the rascally robots, even though some of his previous work on the title was not quite up to snuff. But he obviously wants to tell the story. This time around, artist Shane Davis is co-listed as “storyteller,” so maybe that helped.
Any fan of the Metal Men needs to pick up this issue and I won’t spoil anything with details, but trust me, it’s a winner.
We still don’t have the full story of the Metal Men. Others have tried, including Mike Carlin in 1993, who gave us a brilliant retcon of the origin of the robots.
Carlin explained that a lab accident transferred the intellects and emotions of six people into non-functioning robots, making them to human-like Metal Men. Magnus’ brother, Mike, became the brilliant Gold; Mike’s girlfriend became Platinum; lab workers became Mercury and Iron; a dull-witted custodian and a pizza delivery guy became Tin and Lead.
But Carlin’s reinterpretation of the origin, like Duncan Rouleau’s ambitious (but almost unreadable) series a decade later, have been retconned out of existence. Rouleau’s is no loss, but Carlin’s version fit perfectly.
Whichever version of the Metal Men you grew up with, the current 12-issue series is one of the best. Let’s hope DC allows Didio to finish all 12 issues.
AVENGERS #33 puts the team back on track as non-member Moon Knight shows up as a hyper-powerful agent of the Egyptian god Konshu and takes out the Avengers one at a time. Writer Jason Aaron is finally getting the Avengers back on track and Javier Garron’s art is perfect.
We’re just at the beginning of the Konshu quest, but it’s an exciting premise. More questions than answers at this point, but I’m on board.
JUSTICE LEAGUE #44 and #45: The JLA book has been fragmented lately. In an issue just before the day of the COVID shut down, readers were left in the lurch. The team rushed off the battle some cosmic bad guy and … that was it. There was a note that said, “Yeah, we’ll pick this thread up soon, meanwhile let’s pretend it didn’t happen.”
In issues 44 and 45, which came out in the past two weeks, the League is off on another grand adventure: to save the soul of Jim Corrigan and The Spectre.
Robert Venditti’s story is perfect and the art by Xermanico (#44) and Eddy Barrows (#45) is beautiful, especially the work of Barrows.
It’s always great to see The Spectre, who functions better as a guest hero or villain than in his own series.
The league might be a bit too Batman heavy, but then isn’t everything at DC?