Sunday, May 26, 2013

The Senses-Shattering Saga of the Metal Men (part 3)

I think it's important to get my Metal Men stuff done all in a cluster and not broken up by months of other stuff (only days of it!), because as I've mentioned before, it's one of the only comics of its era to follow a continuing storyline from issue to issue. Last issue ended with Tin careening through space, holding twisted mutant lifeforms from the moon inside him. As with Platinum's brief "death", this isn't to last -- and, also as with Platinum, Tin is (apparently) returning first as a villain.

Is that even necessarily an "evil" Tin, so much as simply a giant one? I get the feeling this is EXACTLY what regular ol' Tin would do if here were suddenly giant sized. Also, maybe it's just me, but I would've gone for the yo-yo first. 

Another angle on the cover, duh (although with Lead and Tina having switched places, and a totally different arrangement of items in the machine, I can't help but notice. Also, get real, scissors? Just buy some damn scissors.) This strikes me as a bold, almost artistic thing to do, and it's not something I've seen in any other Silver Age comic, though most imitate the cover or at least "adapt" it in some way on the first page. Dang, the claw machine has knobs instead of a joystick, too -- this must take place after the 500 times Tin didn't get anything.

Well that's a sad note to begin on. Of course, it was a sad note for last issue to end on, too. Note the discarded rocket stage; if this comic were made today there would be 15 more of those in every panel. Anyway, Tin, naturally, is feeling quite lonely, but he's also dedicated to containing the horrible microbes. People around the world keep track of Tin's orbit, evidently mesmerized by his misfortune. A scientist remarks that if the microbes housed in Tin were to ever escape, Earth would be in terrible danger, effectively cursing Tin to eternity orbiting Earth. Jeez, this comic doesn't mess around. 

Even though I know this will be reversed by the end, it still feels like a gutsy move to put a main character in such a predicament. If I had to explain the difference between this and, say, that issue of Superman's Girlfriend Lois Lane where Lois is turned into a centaur, I'd have to say that this wasn't a shock-value "buy this comic" stunt -- it's not mentioned on the cover, for instance, and you'd only know about it if you'd read the previous issue.

Back at Doc's lab, Lead, Iron, Gold, and Mercury are all looking at Tin's lonely orbit via a huge telescope with a bunch of eyepieces. Platinum bothers Doc, who is hard at work trying to figure out how to save Tin. He exasperatedly refers to her as a "woman"; naturally, Platinum isn't going to let him hear the end of this and takes it as a sign that he's finally warming up to her.

Elsewhere, trouble is brewing, as the tyrannical queen of a planet of robots has fallen in love with Tin.

Is it me or do they look like a robot prop for a crappy 60s sci-fi show, easily constructed out of stuff a tv studio would have lying around? So the queen sends a team to capture Tin for her, and it's hinted that she has the wrong idea about tin because all she's seen of him is his bloating "tin can" form, and the picture she had taken of him doesn't provide a good look at his face. 

Back at Doc's lab, each of the Metal Men shows just how much they care for Tin by offering to take his place. Even Mercury, who spins it into trying to one-up Gold. Doc angrily barks that he's the scientist around here, and he doesn't need to be bossed around by his own creations. Clearly, even Doc is put out of sorts by Tin's absence. That's sweet, it really is.

So Doc already had a plan before Platinum started bugging him -- they'll go up to Tin in a rocket, transfer the microbes to Lead, melt Lead down until the microbes are dead, and, finally, repair Lead. Man, with Doc, if it's not metal robots, it's rockets. 

Tin's orbiting the Earth still (duh), and passes the Sputnik, when the "tin amazon" rocket comes towards him. Reading that he contains deadly microbes, the ship's crew bursts him open with a laser blast, releasing the microbes just in time for the Metal Men to see. As the aliens grab Tin and take him away, Doc is forced to take care of the microbes first before they can endanger Earth again. 

Lead goes back into the rocket via a hatch that leads to a smelter, for the "melting down Lead" part of the microbe extermination plan. As Lead boils, the Metal Men basically make their version of small talk, with Platinum weeping about Tin, Doc telling her she's just a robot, Mercury insulting her, that sort of thing. Soon the microbes are destroyed, and in a move that surprised me, Lead is reassembled and A-OK to continue on the adventure. Meanwhile, Tin is presented to the alien robot queen.

Determined to make Tin the titan she dreamed of, she angrily berates her scientists for not "adjusting" him beforehand, and demands they make him to her liking immediately. The Metal Men tracked Tin's captors and land on the planet; before they get anywhere, Mercury pressures Doc to force Platinum to stay behind, due to her "defective responsometer" -- until she saves them from a giant robot falcon. It looks like all the life on this planet is mechanical (and giant), with flowers looking like gears on top of pipes. Soon Doc's jaw drops as he sees a giant tin robot falconer wheeling towards them.

Doc foils the giant falconer (who was looking for "toys" to amuse the queen) by having Gold use his unique malleability to turn into a deck of cards, which Iron then "shoots" at the giant

To think just two issues ago Gold got razzed for having no unique power or ability. Their victory is short-lived, as they're ambushed by another giant who hits them with a freeze-ray. Doc tries to confess something to Platinum before he freezes solid, but can't get it out. Awww. Doc and the Metal Men are placed on a "charm bracelet" for the queen, which is the chain they're wrapped in on the cover.

The queen's scientists succeed in making Tin giant by exposing him to native food. He grows to the queen's size, and stops stammering -- but becomes a gigantic ass at the same time, a literal tin tyrant. The Metal Men are wheeled in, inside the prize machine on the cover. Tin doesn't seem to remember them, but as they caught his eye, wins them from the machine immediately. Turns out I was kind of wrong -- this is, more or less, evil Tin (although it's really more like the "Asshole Superman from Superman III" version of Tin). 

Tin madly pounds them against the table and into a bowl of fruit, soaking them in fruit juice. Platinum's screams snap him out of his trance -- though he still doesn't stammer, he's the Tin we know again, and he bravely affects an escape with the Metal Men in tow. But when they get back to the rocket, Tin shrinks to his normal size as everyone else grows giant, due to exposure to the fruit juice! 

As no one else will fit in the rocket, and they can't wait for everyone else to turn normal again because the queen's stooges are on their heels, Tin is forced to head back to Earth alone, which is an ironic development , as this means the adventure both began and ended with Tin missing the Metal Men and vice versa. Doc and the other Metal Men are still chained together, and have to evade capture from the evil queen's minions as they await some unlikely rescue by Tin. This is the first issue so far where nobody's dead at the end, I should mention.

Let me tell you something about this comic -- this comic used giant robot fruit juice as a plot point and I care about what happens to the people affected by it. 

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