Saturday, September 28, 2013

CBR Metamorpho Year One


Metamorpho, Metamorpho! Metamorpho, Metamorpho!

This is the story of the element man! Starts off in old Egypt land!*

Comic title: Metamorpho: Year One 
Art by Dan Jurgens & Mike Norton
Written by Dan Jurgens

Published by DC Comics
From 2008
Lineup Outsiders
Format: Trade Paperback collecting the mini-series Metamorpho: Year One #1-6.

Here's another Year One mini-series from DC Comics!

Metamorpho aka "The Element Man" is a DC character created in 1963 by Bob Haney.

Prior to this, Haney had some great success on the books Doom Patrol and Metal Men. So DC decided to let him create his own take on a similarly powered superhero where he could be given free control over it. Along with artist Ramona Fradon they originally created Metamorpho as parody of these kind of character.

He first debuted on The Brave and the Bold before being given a short lived on-going series.

Over the following years, Metamorpho appeared then on a 2-part Justice League of America story where he declined an invitation to the League before finally joining Batman's Outsiders in 1983. He would stay with that team for the following decades, the book that made him famous with readers, had a brief tenure on the Justice League International post-Crisis* before going back to the Outsiders in DC's modern-era stories.

Finally in 2007, Dan Jurgens created, wrote and partially draw this following 6-issue mini-series.

The story begins with the ruthless businessman and second richest man alive Simon Stagg, of Stagg Industries.

Stagg fears to be left aside in this age of fantastic scientific discoveries and high-technological prowess. Already men from Gotham City and Metropolis are becoming more and more influential in this new era.

We then meet Rex Mason, an adventurer and employee of Stagg's. Rex is a reality series star who appears on the show Treasure Quest, one of the highest rated reality shows in America!

Rex goes out with Stagg's own daughter Sapphire Stagg (though the old man's not that happy about it). With Stagg's special bodyguard Java - and science-resurrected-mysterious-primitive-man - who works as a cameraman for Rex Mason's Treasure Quest show, they both explore ancient tombs and run around the world hunting for treasures... live!

But that isn't working for Stagg anymore. There is no more money in discovery. People want excitement and horror! If life doesn't captivate the public anymore... then perhaps death will!

Stagg arranges for Rex have an "incident" in this latest journey, the show's grand finale.. in front of the cameras! Java leaves Rex for dead inside an Egyptian pyramid...

But Rex was only left unconscious! He stumbles and finds the "Orb of Ra", a mystical treasure which appears to be a very strange meteorite.. glowing...

Rex Mason dies...

...but The Element Man is born on that very same day!

The Orb of Ra granted him powers beyond comprehension,Metamorpho can now shapeshift his body into various elements, the very structure of his being can turn as easily into gas... liquids.. sodium, magnesium, calcium, titanium, iron, silver, gold, mercury, helium, aluminum or even plutonium! All at his fingertips, literally!

But a great handicap comes with this much power. Rex Mason's humanity is no more....

Sapphire won't ever look at him. While M. Stagg sees a lot of potential in his potential son-in-law.

Promising a cure, he begins to exploit Rex.

But things turn from bad to worse, Rex soon finds himself captured by arms dealer Maxwell Tremaine! Rex only wanted to come back to his normal life!

Instead it's a life of adventure - on a much bigger and more epic scale - that begins!

While Rex Mason searches for a cure for his "diesease", the Justice League comes for him...

Metamorpho Year One is actually a pretty faithful retelling of the original adventures of Metamorpho!

Dan Jurgens seems to have a lot of respect for the character and the writers that came before him. There's a lot of emphasis on old school pulp action, even Rex's Metamorpho look is pretty much taken straight back from his vintage series.

Mike Norton's artwork, taking over Jurgens' first chapters is very much in tone with the rest of the book. Albeit a bit weaker in my eyes.

Rex can't get back to his originally fully human form, no more made of flesh and bone.

It's a great entertaining story that deserved the modern Year One retelling.

Overall, it's a great book!

Pretty fun, you gotta like the whole meteorite/Egyptian mythology explanation for such an outlandish character. The whole thing has a certain retro charm to it. It's a lot of non-sense, there are mad scientists, robots and alien life forms in this book.... but so much fun as well!

It's the only solo tale Metamorpho received in years. Although I can imagine a Year Two or at least a second modern mini-series easily.

Rex would be later joined by an "Element Girl" named Urania "Rainie" Blackwell. The character was short lived and so very little used, apart from a memorable last scene along Death of The Endless in Neil Gaiman's Sandman series.

Rex himself made a recent appearance on TV as Metamorpho on the Beware the Batman animated series.

And I'm pretty sure we haven't seen the last of him, he will probably make some appearances on DC Comics' New 52 any time soon, no doubt. And if not, you can always go back to his older appearances on any of the fantastic runs of the Outsiders series from years past.

I give it:
2 / 3 Plastic-trophies!

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