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Metal Men #1 (0f 8)
Writer and Artist: Duncan Rouleau
Colorist: Moose Brumann
Letterer: Pat Brosseau

The Metal Men are back! And no one is more excited than I am at the prospect. Well, maybe the people getting a regular check for eight issues are more excited, and probably ASFR enthusiasts with a thing for Platinum, and possibly Mr. Universe, but other than that, no one.

I've always loved the idea of the Metal Men but the reality has never lived up to the promise, until perhaps in the recent 52. In that case the story was more about Dr. Will Magnus, their creator, so it makes sense the new miniseries by Duncan Rouleau (from ideas by 52 writer Grant Morrison) focuses on that character.

We get to see Dr. Magnus' earliest version of the group of elemental robots, and some actual human beings involved in his personal life including Dr. T. O. Morrow. The addition of Morrow as Magnus' mentor in 52 was a stroke of genius, adding a depth to what was frequently a stultifyingly dull characterization in the 1960's DC good-guy scientist stereotype. Going off his meds and breaking the mold of the lab-rat cum exposition device has done wonders for the Doctor and it looks like Rouleau is working that angle to best effect.

The depiction of the Metal Men themselves has me a little less excited. They're played for laughs, which can work well, but didn't in the first half of the book. They're much funnier when they have the straight man Will Magnus to play off of, as in the science fair scene. And they're funnier still if you imagine the dialogue is in French.

(I have no idea why this is true, but I have noticed this with certain books. I have dubbed this phenomenon "The Tintin Effect".)

The art is well suited to the story, a cartoony pastiche for a semi-serious book. Faces are expressive, poses are believable, and the tech looks cool with an metallo-organic cast. The only letdown was the uninspired lettering, which looks like your standard computer-created easy-to-read text. I want something more for my favorite team of robots (sorry, Mighty Orbots, you're a distant third). Each member of the team should have distinctive lettering. In my imagination it's an essential part of their characters.

I'm not going to try to justify my whimsy, please use different fonts in future if you're going to write use the Metal Men in a book. Somebody want to get started on the MetalMen font collection? A quick look at FontBook shows the name Magnus is available.

The first issue was a solid if not inspired beginning that has convinced me to give this book a try for at least the first three issues. If the writer is willing to move the team's base of operations to Quebec I'll up that minimum to five.

David Akhond

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