Yes, it looks like this is the second time in 6 issues that we're doing the "evil Doc makes a team of bad guys" plot. And can I just say, it's always bugged me that only two members of the Gas Gang are pure elements; there's no Brass or Steel in the Metal Men, after all. The Gas Gang technically first appeared in last issue's "Fun Facts" page (which I don't bother with and you can't make me), although only Chloroform has the same appearance here.
Incidentally, you may have seen the Gas Gang on the "Clash of the Metal Men!" episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold; there were some changes to the roster (they added the bomb-shaped Hydrogen and changed Carbon Monoxide to Nitrogen), and they had the origin of the 90s version of the Metal Men -- friends of Doc's transformed by an accident. They're also voiced by the same actors as the Metal Men, and obviously with the addition of Hydrogen have the same number of members -- they really wanted to push the "evil counterpart" angle. I'll probably take a look at that episode after I'm through with the regular Metal Men feature.
Yikes, apparently it's the second time we're doing "evil robot Doc makes a team of bad guys". Although at least this time Robo-Doc looks like a robot. I don't know a lot about Chloroform, but the "fun facts" page says it sometimes induces laughter before it knocks you out.
The story opens with an unnecessary recap of the events of the previous issue, including a shot of its cover. Soon we're back where we were at the end of last issue; inside a rocket back to Earth, with Tin at the controls, Doc and Platinum doing whatever, and everyone else recovering from injuries. Platinum sleeps, something Doc doesn't care for because it's another manifestation of her faulty responsometer. She wakes up and talks of dreaming, and naturally Doc isn't pleased to hear about that either. Platinum gets grabby, but her display of affection is interrupted by a meteor shower.
A meteor is stuck in the ship's hull, and is so hot it can eat through it in minutes. Doc heads out to force it loose with a jackhammer, accompanied by Platinum, who is determined to protect him from the deadly meteors. Throughout the ordeal, Doc tries to get Platinum to go back inside where it's safe, showing real concern for her well-being (aaaawwww). Platinum pulls a patented Metal Man self-sacrifice to shield Doc from approaching meteors just as he's finished taking care of the embedded rock; Doc cradles her melting body, overcome by sadness.
Now, call me cynical, but it seems to me she'll be right as rain after some time in the Metal Recovery Room. I think the problem with killing and injuring the cast so frequently is that it loses its punch pretty quickly.
As Doc returns to the ship with Platinum in his arms, the rest of the Metal Men greet him. However, they're shocked at the sight of the "destroyed" Platinum -- even Mercury, who says he's willing to donate parts for her repair even at the cost of his own life. Aaaaawwww. Doc heads to the Metal Recovery Room to perform what is basically robot surgery, not even taking a moment to remove his space suit. Gold notices that Doc's suit has been soaked in "cosmic rays", probably from the meteor that hit the ship, but Doc doesn't think anything of it.
Some time later, the Metal Men try to get Doc to eat or sleep, as he's neglected to do either for some time. Doc rebuffs them, claiming to be neither tired nor hungry. Just then, before their eyes, Doc's skin begins to take on a metallic sheen
Platinum awakes from her comatose state and is overjoyed to see the new robot Doc. She fantasizes about their life together, culminating in a scene of their wedding. However, it's soon clear that like the last Robo-Doc, this one is a pretty big asshole; he treats the Metal Men even more harshly than he usually treats Platinum. For instance, he derides Tin as useless, threatening him with replacement if he doesn't shape up. He also rejects the idea of robots having any emotions at all, acting as if the Metal Men were simply talking power tools for him to order around.
Doc has become even more cold and unfeeling than usual; when the Metal Men see a manned US space shuttle under attack by a comet-like monster, he refuses to come to its aid, concerned only with returning to Earth. Naturally, the Metal Men don't agree, and manage to save the shuttle anyway. Just as naturally, Doc is angry with them afterwards, saying that their disobedience has earned them a one-way trip to the scrap heap as soon as they get home.
Doc doesn't get the chance to make good on this promise, as the Metal Men seal him in his lab in hopes he'll come to his senses. Meanwhile, they run experiments to see if there's a way to turn Doc back to normal.
Yes, that's what the Metal Men do when left to their own devices. Anyway, they go to check on Doc, when an explosion tears open the wall, revealing Doc and his new creations, the Gas Gang. I don't know about you, but I would have introduced the villains of the piece a little earlier. They look a little different than on the cover, with only Oxygen and Helium being labeled. Anyway, Doc orders Chloroform to gas the Metal Men.
Mercury is taken out of commission by the laughing fit. Chloroform looks on as the Metal Men succumb to his gas, saying that the Gas Gang can topple the world. I think it's more like "I, Chloroform, can topple the world" -- I mean, look at what he's accomplished so far. Gold tries to clear the gas by forcing Oxygen to spray them, but something that I call total bull happens when everyone starts to rust. Yeah, not just Iron.
Everyone starts running, except for Lead, who forms a barrier and tries to hold the Gas Gang off.
Sadly, he only seems to keep back Chloroform and Oxygen -- Carbon Dioxide and Monoxide attack the retreating Metal Men, icing them over and poisoning them. But, like, not enough to keep them from running. Eventually, they're cornered by Helium in a lab. Turns out Helium isn't as silly as he might sound, as he can inflate his body to massive proportions. The rest of the Gas Gang catches up as the giant Helium bears down on the Metal Men, when Platinum springs her trap: the heat conducting experiment from earlier! Plugging himself in and coiling around the Gas Gang, he evaporates them into steam. I admit, I'm surprised that came up later, I thought it was just Silver Age silliness or educational bull.
Doc was also caught in Gold's coil, and fell unconscious. Brought to the Metal Recovery Room, he eventually returns to normal