Rating: 4/5 – Personalities Loom Large With The Metal Men!
by ComicSpectrum senior reviewer Shawn Hoklas.
The Metal Men first appeared in Showcase comics number thirty-seven and were created by Robert Kanigher and Ross Andru. With Showcase being the title to try out new heroes and concepts like Adam Strange, Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) and Rip Hunter just to name a few, the team first appeared in 1962 with a three issue stint before moving on to their own series in the middle of 1963. In their introduction here, Kanigher and Andru provide the Metal Men with a goofy but fun story that’s stronger because of their choice to highlight the team’s personality and quirks, rather than the action.
The story opens millions of years ago with the extinction of the dinosaurs. Well, all but one. A creature that looks like a stingray that can fly and shoot fire and freeze beams from its eyes is frozen in an ice age only to thaw out in modern times. When the creature breaks free from its icy sleep, it wreaks havoc and destruction until the army calls on the one man who can “make science fiction ideas practical”, Dr. Will Magnus. It’s with Dr. Magnus’ introduction that we also first meet the Metal Men. Gold, Lead, Iron, Mercury, Tin and the female of the group, Tina or Platinum. Yes the setup of the story is corny, but the individual personalities of the team including Magnus himself is what makes this issue and this team so great.
As each individual Metal “Man” introduces himself, Kanigher gives us some great insight into their character, as well as some scientific facts. For example, Gold says “I can be hammered into a sheet 4 millionths of an inch thin!”. Those facts in addition to the fun is what I’m sure readers of the time appreciated and leant to the team getting their own series. What’s also a product of its time though is Dr. Magnus’ chauvinistic personality. On multiple occasions in this issue he compares Tina to a “real” woman in negative ways. In one scene Dr. Magnus says to Tina, “You sound just like a real woman! Can’t take orders without arguing!”. And in another scene he talks about his lack of control when it comes to Tina being like a real woman, and that it must be a few “bugs” in the system that he’ll have to remove. If you can get past these comments, then there’s just so much to enjoy about each member of the team like Tin who wants to do his best despite his small stature, or Mercury’s hot headedness and want to take action. When the team finally attempts to stop the creature, I was surprised with what happened next and how the issue ended!
To me, the Metal Men are probably the most under-utilized team within the DCU as the concept behind them offers so many story possibilities and tales just waiting to be told. Unfortunately they haven’t had their own series for years, but DC has announced a new Metal Men series to be released in 2016 so until then, do yourself a favor and get to know them a bit better. There’s so many great back issues just waiting to be read and read them you should!
Reviewed by: Shawn Hoklas
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