Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Senses-Shattering Saga of the Metal Men! Part 4

Back with more Metal Men. As you may remember, last issue ended with the Metal Men (save Tin) and Doc temporarily turned to giants as they made their escape from a tyrannical giant robot queen. Also they're all chained together. So, since only Tin could fit in the rocket home, only he could go -- and he's basically their only hope of getting back to Earth, ever.

It's always great to see the Metal Men get creative with their unique powers. For instance, here Gold is making use of his malleability to turn his arms into bola-sporting ropes, whereas Iron is just trying to get the giant robot in a nasty bear hug. Also note Lead melting; besides Mercury and Tin, he has the lowest melting point of all the Metal Men.

I'm pretty much always going to include the "page 1 alternate cover angle", I really can't get enough of that. Although this is the first to have notable differences from the cover; here, Mercury is being zapped in half instead of Gold, and neither of them are really in the positions they are on the cover besides that.

Man, look at that robot design. I don't know if I'd call this a good thing or what, but it's certainly something you'd never see today -- needlenose plier hands and office chair wheels. I can't say if the artists really considered that futuristic or whatever, but it's certainly something to imagine.

The issue starts in earnest with a recap of how it all came to this. It's revealed that Tin didn't return to Earth, instead steering the rocket so that it orbits the planet everyone else is on while he frets about how to get them back to normal size sot hey can all go home. Also, it turns out that this issue marks the debut of Lead's verbal tic, wherein he can't complete a thought without saying "--Uhh--", which I've always found adorable. It's also another great example of incorporating the metal's properties into the character, as lead is very dense.

So, naturally, the first order of business for the rest of the Metal Men is breaking free of the chain they were bound with last issue. However, nothing works; it seems resistant to damage, and it grows and shrinks to thwart escape attempts.

Characters breaking the panels seems pretty ambitious, even artsy, for the time period. Man, this series really was ahead of its time, which is no doubt part of why I like it so much. Anyway, the evil robot queen seems dead bent on retrieving the Metal Men, and is seen leading a search party complete with, ahem, "hunting dogs." The Metal Men hide in the sand beneath them, and everyone gets a closer look at those "dogs".

 This was sort of hinted at in the last issue, what with the queen referring to her kind as "tin amazons" and longing for the male companionship of Tin, but these robots have sexes -- and even sexual dimorphism, as you can see here. Surprisingly, neither Doc nor Platinum makes anything out of this fact, despite it devaluing Doc's position of Platinum not being a woman.

In her fervor, the queen reveals the chain's secret; it's secured by a time lock, and she has the "key" in the form of a clock/dial on her chest. She just keeps turning the dial back and resetting the clock now and then, which seems like a bother that could have been avoided with a regular keyed lock. Still, now Doc knows how to get free from the chain -- by setting the clock's timer to zero.

The Metal Men escape the queen's notice, but are soon swooped up by a robot hawk or condor or something, who takes them back to its nest. Platinum tries to pull one of the Metal Men's favorite moves, the stay-behind self-sacrifice.

Everyone else rappels down Mercury to the bottom of the cliff the nest is situated on, when Doc realizes that Platinum is still attached to the chain and can thus be retrieved. Gold turns into a fishing reel, which is cranked by Iron to pull Platinum down -- but naturally this just pulls the bird down with her, as she's unwilling to let it go so it can nab them again. Doc may not have anticipated this, but he has a plan. And as plans go, it's a pretty simple one: hit it with a big hammer.

Note that he's still caught in the chain for this. Naturally, the strongest Metal Man wielding the toughest Metal Man as a weapon = one busted up robot bird. Incidentally, Lead also turned into a huge hammer wielded by Iron in the first issue, which I didn't cover because I found it boring. Still, between this and Gold's recent shenanigans (like the deck of cards thing from last issue), the Metal Men now all firmly have "creative shapeshifting" as a power; in a minute this will get ridiculous. Yes, more ridiculous than it already is.

With the team reunited, we cut to Tin, who decides to head back to the planet to retrieve his friends and teammates (and whatever Doc is to him, I guess). The queen sees the rocket as it approaches the surface and tries to fire on it, but misses repeatedly and blames it on the dog-men. She tells them to prove themselves worthy of freedom by finding the Metal Men, and they give chase in the direction the rocket was headed.

At that same moment, Tin sees that he's on a direct collision course with the Metal Men, who can't possibly get out of the way in time. Worse still, the fruit juice that made them giants has long worn off without their noticing (though the bird being giant should have been a sign). Clamoring to escape, everyone runs in different directions

Tin is forced to alter his course into the river seen above. Tin thinks this a suicidal maneuver, making this the second attempted sacrifice this issue. Everyone is touched by Tin's bravery, but don't consider him a lost cause and rush to save him just as the queen and her "dogs" arrive on the scene. The queen laughs at their foolishness, as the creatures under the water are extremely deadly

Underwater, Doc realizes that no one else realizes the he can't survive indefinitely underwater; it's not until he nearly passes out that Platinum sees the state he's in. Gold turns into a submarine that houses everyone else (though he doesn't surface for air, so I guess he drained the water out somehow)

With a giant crab bearing down on Tin in the rocket, there's only one thing to do: use Iron and Lead as freaking torpedoes. 

This is sort of a cheat, in that it's not obvious at first that Lead and Iron are still bound to the chain inside the sub (note the "tails" of the torpedoes above); I read this part five, six, seven times before I realized that's what that was. Surfacing to meet Tin as he leaves the rocket, they discover the queen has the rocket in her pincer, and she snaps up the golden sub as well! 

The scene from the cover occurs, though no one is hurt. At Doc's instruction, Platinum manages to turn the timer to 0, finally freeing them from the chain. This changes little, as the queen still has them right where she wants them, and does serious damage to everyone but Platinum and Doc -- until Platinum gives a speech about "the difference between men and dogs", inspiring the giant robot men to rebel against their captors.

With the evil queen trounced, the Metal Men board their rocket (with the blessing of the robotic men) and head back to Earth. With Lead, Iron, Gold, and Mercury in the Metal Recovery Room, Tin thanks Doc for trusting him with steering the rocket back to Earth. Doc can't hear him, as in his exhaustion he fell asleep in Platinum's lap; naturally, she's overjoyed, feeling almost as if he considered her a real woman. So far this is the first issue I've looked at where the ending didnt' introduce a plot thread for the next issue to tackle, unless you count the Metal Men's return to Earth.

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