The Metal Men are one of the more fascinating groups of characters in the DC universe. Made up of selected elements from the periodic table, they are a team of super-hero robots whose personalities and abilities are related to the element they were born from. Their inventor Will Magnus is probably triply intriguing, as he balances the gnosticism of his alchemical quests with his more grounded love for girl friend Helen. His character is one of the driving forces behind the fascinatingly esoteric underpinnings of the book. His character (in all it’s incarnations; oh time travel…) brings a gravitas to a story that could easily have been mired in an excessive focus on the flashy Metal Men.
At times, Action Philosophers meets the periodic table, and at others the new Seven Soldiers of Victory (appropriate because the book is based on Grant Morrison’s, the author of Seven Soldiers, ideas), Duncan Rouleau’s writing straddles the line between the conspiratorially scatalogical and the whimsically educational like a well-trained circus artist. He’s a joy to read and a natural storyteller; there seems to be nothing that Rouleau can’t handle. His ability to flesh fully imagined characters out of the cast is remarkable. And he has a kind of affection for the characters so that the book feels like a labor of love.
In issue number two, the Metal Men have to solve some sort of crisis (read: ACTION!), while Will Magnus from the future races back through time to try and destroy his inventions, even while the present time Magnus is helping the Metal Men save the day over and over (read: DRAMA). This issue furthers the tapestry of the conspiracy of time traveling factions as the story begins to feel a lot like a condensed version of The Seven Soldiers of Victory book by Morrison. In this book, you’re getting a lot of mediations on the role and ethics of science, as well as a lot of mediation on the relationship between flesh and metal/human and machine. It hits very Morrisoney notes, with touches of some of the wide-eyed wonder of Darwyn Cooke.
All of this is geek for this is one of the more fantastic books DC is putting out, not to mention one of the few good books in the DC Universe that’s not written by Geoff Johns or Grant Morrison (though again, this book is based on his ideas, so Morrison fans should definitely apply). Now is the time to get in on the book, because it’s not the type of story you’ll be able to jump in on at issue four and know what is going on.