Thursday, September 15, 2011

CBR Metal Men


Today, the Metal Men!
In case this name is already lost on you, the Metal Men are a relatively obscure team of robots from DC Comics.
They're easily my favorite original team of characters. Sure, the Justice League International, the Shadowpact or the Mighty Avengers (at Marvel) are nice enough. But those are mostly teams composed of existing characters re-purposed under a team book to keep them in print.

The Metal Men were and still are a bunch of original character solely created for the role of this team. (kinda like the Fantastic Four or Challengers of the Unknown)
And the concept behind them's so simple and fun!

This book was created as an attempt to bring them back into the DCUniverse and clarify their origin and status as well.
Doc Magnus, their creator, was re-established during DC's big crossover epic 52, and the group appeared as a whole again in a story-arc in Superman/Batman before landing the featured role in this book.

Comic title: Metal Men
Art & Story by Duncan Rouleau

Published by DC Comics
From 2008
Lineup Metal Men
Format: Collects the eight issues of the 2007-08 Metal Men mini-series.

After a brief (yet important) appearance in 52, the brilliant scientist Doc Magnus regained his taste for science and technology as he faced memories from his past and a confrontation against his old mentor T.O. Morrow.

Now, determined to rebuild his old robots, the Metal Men, the doctor was truly back!

Metal Men is a mini-series (and proposed on-going series concept) developed by Duncan Rouleau. It is a story built upon various threads and levels of narration that retells the origin of the robotic team several years in the past, the main aspect of the plot taking place in the present directly following 52 and some trouble coming from the future slowly coming to confront the Doc.

The story opens up in the present.
Doctor Magnus is back to science! The Metal Men are back on duty to thwart evil robotic menaces.
After many appearances of the team all around the world, problems start getting in their way...

At various point, more of the mysterious past of the robotic crew is reavealed.
Will Magnus used to be a simpler man, who dreamed of mechanics and technological prowess.
With the help of Helen Garin, his former love and another brilliant scientist, Will was making huge progress in the domain of robotics.
Thanks to a discovered ancient artifact, Magnus was able to build devices he would name "responsometers". And with the help of these articial hearts, build real live robots. These robots were gifted with the ability to move, talk and process thoughts like real human beings, their personalities developing from their matter, mirroring the very same metal that composed them.
Thus were born... Gold, Iron, Lead, Mercury, Tin and Platinum I mean Tina.

As the story jumps back and forth around past and present, as we see various generation of Metal Men improving over the previous models Magnus' brother attempts to prevent the creation of the team to avoid a cataclysmic event in the future...

With references to other parts of the larger DCU, including my favorite L-Ron from the JLI era!!

As the team is faced on all sides by various menaces and attempts to be taken off the care of Doctor Magnus, Magnus' brother stoles technology from T.O. Morror to turn the Metal Men into radioactive elements...

Will Doc. Magnus be able to revert the transformation and get rid of these so-called Death Metal Men?
Will the team survive and all-out attack by the Robot Renegades or Chemo?
Why are all these old foes coming back to haunt them at the same time, including Doctor Yes, BOLTS, The Balloonatic and his Orphan Army!
And is it possible to save the day yet avoid tomorrow?
Is this terrible future gonna come anyhow?!

The team gets a much deserved additional female member! "Get Rid Of Her!!" - Platinum

Metal Men is one strange book.
On the paper, explained like this, it seems like a pretty straightforward reimagining of these characters.
Simultaneously getting rid of the more abstract and odd elements introduced in a non-canon retcon of the characters from the early 90s (the robots used actually transfered minds and personalities from Magnus' brother, fiancee and friends...making them like a sub-par Fantastic Four-like bunch of characters) and interprets instead their original Silver Age origin.

But it is also a very stylized comic book. Which might not be in everybody's taste.

Artist Duncan Rouleau (creator of the cartoon series and franchise Ben 10 on Cartoon Network) has a very unique and distinct style.
And since he also wrote the story, the breakdowns and layouts were specially designed to both reflect the story and the scenes.
It gives the Metal Men a very stylized look, futuristic and "hi-tech". Let's just say it looks like nothing else.

I personally really liked it, it was fitting the book and the tone of these characters, but I know some found it pretty difficult to follow or simply get "into".

Overall, it's a great follow-up to William Magnus' plot from 52.
It presents the Metal Men of old (and would therefore keep most of the old Silver Age adventures canon - nerdmike), clarify their origin and evolve them in a new direction. (even promising a new villain, would their adventures continue someday).
The Metal Men are updated, a new member Copper joins them, Gold gets mostly destroyed (only his head would survive, since he's quite expensive keeping him incomplete) which chronologically ties directly into their story arc in Superman/Batman (that reintroduced them and was released first).
Oh, but Magnus never changes, the guy still sports silly vintage costumes and a pipe.

Anyway, try it if you are interested in either the artist or the characters.
Not for everyone though.

I give it:

  2 / 3 Plastic-trophies!

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