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Metal Men #1 Review: All of the elements are there

“It happened again. They found out.”

The Metal Men are back, only this time they may not care too much for the man who gave them life. What is Dr. Will Magnus hiding? What will he do to keep his secret? And what has just awakened in the depths of Challenger Mountain?

Right from the top, I have to say that I greatly enjoyed this issue, but readers may want to be aware of this comic’s place in the DC Universe before they dive in. Specifically, the one thing that may stand in the way of this reading smoothly for newer readers is how much of this story spins out of the direct aftermath of Dark Nights: Metal. It may not seem like it, but that event is now a few years old, coming out long enough ago for it to have spawned multiple series that have since been canceled. It sure feels like this story was meant to be released right on the heels of that main miniseries, especially considering the importance of Nth Metal and Challenger Mountain to the mysteries that are already building here.

Still, beyond those little detours (which are mostly explained through exposition and a couple of handy caption boxes), the main thrust of the story involves the deteriorating psyche of Will Magnus. This gives us a twist on the character that hasn’t been entirely explored in the past, with hints that he may have even fooled himself when it comes to his own motives. There are occasional moments of overly dramatic dialogue, but even those seem to be purposefully emulating the classic over the top stories that these characters were born from.

DC Comics

The artwork from Michele Delecki is appropriately heroic, with almost grandstanding poses from our heroes — aside from the moments where they are too upset to put on a show — that are aided by Jason Wright’s exquisite coloring. This looks like a happy book, a feeling that is perfectly betrayed by the actual story and dialogue from Dan DiDio and Shane Davis.

In this way, the art and the story perfectly complement one another, since the spectacular front put on by Magnus is finally starting to crack. In fact, the only time Magnus ever really seems like the dashing professorial type that we normally associate with the character is when he finally has a new mission and sense of purpose. The question is: who is he trying to fool now?

Make no mistake, this first issue is not an action book. Sure, there are moments of excitement, particularly during Magnus’ flashbacks, but this is much more focused on catching readers up and giving them the new status quo. With a team like the Metal Men, though, it’s only a matter of time before we see some wild set pieces, which I am very much looking forward to (especially with this team on board).

DC’s latest maxi-series has kicked off with a somber and contemplative tone that may prove to be enticingly different from what longtime fans of these characters may expect. It appears to be drawing just as much from works like HBO’s Westworld and Grant Morrison’s Doom Patrol as it does from classic Metal Men stories. It all makes for a fascinating combination that has me chomping at the bit to see what’s next.

Metal Men #1
Is it good?
Dark and engaging, this is the perfect Metal Men book for a post-Westworld audience.
The artwork is beautiful and heroic, standing in perfect contrast to the lies that the characters have been told
Presents several interesting mysteries while playing on our expectations of these characters
Manages to squeeze in a lot of exposition without ever feeling clunky
The 'Metal' connections may be somewhat lost on new readers hoping to jump into these characters here, which leads to a few awkward expository moments

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