Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The Metal Men by Giffen, DeMatteis and Maguire in Doom Patrol

As an added incentive to pick up the new Doom Patrol series, we are treated to a second feature which revives a much beloved team from comics past.  I'm not talking yet about the Metal Men, the stars of the series, but about the creators.  The new adventures of the Metal Men mark yet another reunion of plotter Keith Giffen, scripter J.M. DeMatteis, and penciler Kevin Maguire, the beloved band of misfits who brought us the early adventures of the Justice League International way back in the 1980's. 

Now there is probably no bigger fan of the Metal Men alive, or at least none that I know of, than my friend Mike Carroll. When I asked him if he was picking up the new DP series, he answered that he was paying $3.99 for a ten page Metal Men story that just happened to be accompanied by a Doom Patrol series.  According to Mike, Giffen and DeMatteis have gotten it right, creating a Metal Men series in keeping with the spirit of the team's fondly remembered Silver Age adventures.  Having read very little Metal Men, comparatively, myself, mostly team-ups with Superman and Batman in DC Comics Presents or The Brave and the Bold as well as the serial in this summer's Wednesday Comics, I shall trust Mike's judgment. The characterizations are certainly in keeping with the way the characters have been portrayed in those appearances. 

What I can speak to with a bit more authority, having read the entire run of Justice League/International/America/Europe/Quarterly by Giffen and his various collaborators, is how this stacks up against earlier efforts by the same team.  The answer is quite well, indeed.  They've managed to recreate the magic of those early JLI stories here in a way that their previous reunions, on the mini-series Formerly Known as the Justice League and its follow-up I Can't Believe It's Not The Justice League in JLA Classified 4-9, didn't quite pull off.   Perhaps it's because they'd said all they really had to say about those characters a decade previously, and working with a new set of characters have got the old creative and comedic juices flowing once again. 

On the art side, Maguire is better than ever. He was a talented newcomer when he started on JLI, and now he is a seasoned master. His mastery of expressions was a big part of the JLI formula, with the characters reactions making the jokes even funnier, and that is very much still the case in Metal Men. 
The latest story, in Doom Patrol #4, is the best yet, as the team finally face a "serious" threat in the form of a trio of female robots called the Clique, who either want to rule the world or just kill the Metal Men and get on with their shopping spree.
It's been a big year for the Metal Men, what with this new series and their exposure in the Wednesday Comics experiment, and it looks like the best is yet to come.

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