Let’s talk about Metal, REAL Metal. Let’s talk Iron, Lead, Mercury, and…Gold I guess. Let’s talk about the Metal Men suckers, YEEAAAAHH *rocking guitar riff*.
In honor of Dark Days: Metal, it seemed as appropriate a time as any to talk about DC’s original metal, the freaking Metal Men.
The Metal Men have a special place in my heart. While I can’t say they come to mind first whenever I think of my favorite DC heroes or comic series, their quirky 1950’s sci-fi origins and themes make them a fun read whenever DC actually decides to put out some material for them once every five years (at best).
The most recent significant Metal Men release was in DC’s Legends of Tomorrow mini-series that people like to trot out every time I mention that the company could be regularly using more of their character catalogue than they currently are.
Legends of Tomorrow was a bit of a frustrating release for me. With an eight-dollar price tag, it wasn’t exactly the most approachable comic financially speaking. It would have made way more sense to coincide single issue releases alongside the fat Legends of Tomorrow release for those who may not be interested in all the characters in each issue. For example, I love Firestorm, Metamorpho, and the Metal Men, but I couldn’t give a shit about Sugar and Spike.
Yes, eight bucks for essentially four comics is a good deal, but it’s still twice the price of your average comic and forces itself to compete with the existing pull list pretty hard, especially when you can just wait for the trade paperback release since it’s a limited series anyway. Again, case in point, I just waited for the trade release for Firestorm, Metamorpho, and the Metal Men. Again, I couldn’t give a shit about Sugar and Spike.
Bitterness aside, I did enjoy the Legends of Tomorrow stories once I got the opportunity to read them. They were all good reads, Metal Men possibly being the best of the three I read.
Of course, another reason I chose this Metal Men story to review this week is to honor the passing of its writer, comics’ legend and master Len Wein.
Len Wein, for those who may not know, was responsible for the creation of Wolverine, Nightcrawler, Colossus, Storm, Swamp Thing, the Wrecking Crew, Mongul, and many other classic characters. He launched the original Giant-Sized X-Men, which expanded the team from the original five to include many other characters such as the ones listed above. He worked on Green Lantern, Amazing Spider-Man, Fantastic Four, Adventure Comics, Superman, Daredevil, and many other books. The man was a legend, and he will be sorely missed by those who create and read superhero comic books.
Legends of Tomorrow: Metal Men was no exception when it came to the quality of Mr. Wein’s writing talent. It’s a fun and fast-paced sci-fi adventure with memorable characters and some pretty sweet guest stars.
The tale centers around the eccentric Doc Magnus and his Metal Men. There is the cocky and confident Gold, the brawling Iron, the slow yet kind Lead, the aggressive Mercury, the dedicated and beautiful Platinum, and the small and nervous Tin.
Together they work for the military to help them clean up unique messes alongside the Lieutenant General Thelma Scaletti and Doctor Chantilly Lace. A hacker who goes by Nameless has been unleashing secret government projects via the internet until he or she is given access to the Metal Men by Doctor Will Magnus. Currently, Nameless cannot reach the Metal Men, as they are powered by their Responsometers and are not connected to the internet in any way.
After another disaster caused by Nameless unleashing the Missile Men on Santa Verde, the military is ready to acquires to Nameless’ demands. This leads to Doc Magnus and his Metal Men going off the grid to find Nameless on their own while skirting the U.S military’s attempts to bring them back in.
This is a neat setup for the Metal Men. They are forced work on their own without the resources to be rebuilt. Magnus must use his own wit and intuition to find Nameless. It’s not exactly the most original premise, but it’s different for the Metal Men.
Len Wein’s writing really shines here. It feels classic yet fresh. Each of the Metal Men are allowed their own personality, and their relationship with Magnus is very endearing. The dialogue is entertaining. Plot dumps are few and far between. The robotic-themed threats which oppose the team are good foes.
To spoil a bit, Red Tornado is hacked and sent after the Metal Men, and, later, Doctor Lace is coerced into building a new set of Metal Men to oppose Magnus’ team. Her Metal Men 2.0 are made up of Magnesium, Silicon, Zirconium, Aluminum, Lithium, and Copper, the last of who was a part of the Metal Men 1.0 in previous incarnations of the DC Universe.
Artist Yilidray Cinar puts in some fantastic work here. The Metal Men look cooler than ever before, and the Metal Men 2.0 are given great and unique designs themselves. Each member is visually expressive, and their appearance matches their metal perfectly. Doc Magnus looks like a science geek, even if he is a particularly handsome one. Red Tornado is given a neat redesign. Each issue introduces a new robot or threat which you look forward to seeing.
Color artists Dean White, Hi-Fi, Ulises Arreola, and Jeremy Colwell all lean in heavy with bright and contrasting colors for each issue. This fits perfectly, as this is a high-energy and zany tale of talking single-metal robots and cybernetic threats. I want to be blasted with color, and these four deliver.
Together with inker Trevor Scott, Cinar and the color artists make a dazzling comic wherein any spread could work as a poster. It’s a visually stunning book, fitting for a legendary writer like Len Wein.
Seek this one out. With a master at the writing helm and a phenomenal team of artists, Legends of Tomorrow: Metal Men stands as one of the best reads of latter New 52-era DC Comics. It’s fun, has an endearing cast, and is an all-around good time. It truly is metal.
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