Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Classics - Metal Men #51

   I've been a fan of the Metal Men since their earliest appearances - but to say they've struggled to get an audience would be an understatement.

   The original version was an odd mix of science fiction and humor for children, as inventor "Doc" Magnus created human-like robots, each based on a different metal.

   So Gold, Iron, Lead, Tin, Mercury and Platinum each had powers based on the unique properties of that metal, and the heart and mind of each was contained in a device called a Responsometer.

   No matter how badly they're damaged, Doc can repair them - so the whole team can be destroyed, but will be ready to go back into action by the next issue.

   But the stories were borderline crazy. The team would face all kinds of strange monsters and menaces, and each character either had no personality (Gold, Iron), strange faults (Lead is dim, Tin stutters and has no self-confidence) or are overly emotional (Platinum, Mercury).

   It never really caught on (in terms of sales). Eventually the team got desperate - they adopted human disguises, traded creative teams, and were finally canceled.

   The series was brought back in the late '70s with a jump-start by artist Walt Simonson (who provides the cover here), but his stay was a short one.

   By the time this issue arrived, the team was back to a silly phase. The issue features a forgettable story by Jack C. Harris and Martin Pasko, as the team works together to stop a strange (and flimsy) evil plot.

   The art is by Joe Staton, and it's the best thing about this issue. Staton ha a great flair for comic art (in the best sense of the word "comic"), and provides great visuals here as the team bumbles around, searching for the bad guy.

   It's all very slim and disjointed, so it's no surprise that the series was canceled not long after. But it keeps coming back for more!

   The team has just been introduced to the "New 52," in a more serious vein, but only time will tell if the group will catch on.

   Sadly - I wouldn't bet any money on it.

Grade: C+


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