A Tribute to the of

“Robby Reed” has been busily at work again at his superb www.dialbforblog.com website and his focus has been the infamous Bob Kanigher. I’d invite everyone to go take a peek at the series, which is not finished yet as of this date and you might even recognize some creator quotes about the notorious writer and editor.

So I thought, hey, why not dig out another good ol’ Metal Men story to complement Robby’s work? Submitted for your approval, with appropriate credit to Rod Serling, is Metal Men #20 with a publication date of June/July 1966, written and edited by Kanigher with cover and interior art by the wonderful team of Ross Andru and Mike Esposito. Cover lettering is attributed to Ira Schnap with Milt Snappin doing the chore on interiors and at last it’s time to dive into “Birthday Cake for a Cannibal Robot!

The splash page is one of those surreal Silver Age strokes with a giant, oriental, bespectacled egg with a mustache that is being worked like the tentacles of an octopus to place the metal men onto a massive cake while a large robot in the background can be seen licking his metal lips in anticipation. The dialogue is hokey stereotype, much like Frank Robbins used to do on some of his old Silver Age scripts: “Foolish Lobots - ! Tlying to battle me - ! Dr. Yes!” The caption then reveals that Egg Fu (not yet covered here at the Sage, but perhaps one day), the oriental mastermind who was ultimately defeated in two issues of Wonder Woman (also conveniently written and edited by RK) just so happened to have a robot twin and you’re looking at him. This ought to be interesting…

On the next page, our hardy metal band is enthralled with a television show. Wouldn’t you know it would be the adventures of Batman and Robin. A not too subtle plug for the immensely popular television show. It is kind of a kick to see Ross and Mike doing a little showing of the Dynamic Duo, even if it is on a one-panel TV screen shot, complete with “Sock!” and “Thud!” effects (the Andru-Esposito team got their chance to render a full length Batman team up with the Metal Men in The Brave and the Bold #74, dated October-November, 1967 [Sage #75]).

On the next page, we see the riveted (really, he has rivets like any good robot) Dr. Yes, watching a monitor that is surveilling Doc Magnus and his greatest inventions, the metal men, wondering aloud as a massive robot is taken down about who had sent it. At his location, the Egg Fu twin responds, while still doing that crazy dialogue: “That rittle old mad scientist—me—Dr. Yes! But—I have onry begun!” A bit later, “And when they reast expect it--I shall stlike!” I can see already this is going to get tiresome…

The broken up giant robot is then sucked up into a “Tin” vacuum while Platinum is, as usual, going ga-ga over an unwilling inventor named Magnus. The genius inventor summons the jetaway to pick up the pieces so they can be better analyzed back at his massive laboratory complex.

Soon, Magnus is working on reassembling the robot with the intent of installing one of his own responsometers in it so that he can learn where he came from. Egg Fu, er, Dr. Yes, continues to monitor things via the miniaturized television equipment in the robot and has other plans, wrapping up Part I.

At the bottom of page 6 is one of those house ads that kinda make you cringe, all these years later. Replete with a go-go checked background, it reads: “Said a cat suffocating in squaresville: ‘I have moved to the wide-open-airsville, ‘cause those mags from DC set me off on a spree, they are strictly from none-can-comparesville.

Okay, then…

As Part II begins, the massive head of the robot is being lowered when a surprised Doc Magnus sees that the mouth seems to be opening and the next thing you know, he’s been swallowed. A delighted Dr. Yes, watching the scene from afar notes that his ability to control his robot by remote control is intact.

Just then, Doc’s date for the evening shows up and a jealous Tina runs her off with the excuse that the inventor is hard at work and not to be disturbed. Tina then does her bit of thinning her body down to a platinum thread to go under the door to let Doc know what’s on her mind, but of course he’s nowhere to be seen.

The rest of the metal men enter, and it sounds to them like the disembodied head burped. A reference to Pavlov and his dog experiment is made, but they are baffled as to what’s afoot. They decide to help out their maker by reassembling the robot, still under the watchful monitoring of Dr. Yes.

As they grab the limbs, however, they strike at the metal men. Gold decides the answer to controlling the wild automaton is to “operate,” by opening the head and installing a new responsometer, using Iron as a giant scalpel. Back at his hideout, Dr. Yes remarks, “Darn crever, these Amelicans!” Told you it would get tiresome. He further notes that he put the responsometer in the robot’s Achille’s heel. “Darn crever, us Chinese!” Part II closes on that note.

Also, in another bottom-of-the-page house ad, our friendly publisher is advertising two classic, beautiful 2-page pinups available in the June, 1966 issues of Detective Comics, #352 and Batman, #181 [Sage #385] by the incomparable Carmine Infantino that any Silver Age fan worth their salt should instantly recognize.

Part III has a fully assembled robot, supposedly being commanded by the metal band, but in reality, Dr. Yes is calling the shots via remote control. Soon, like something from a Macy’s parade, the metal men ride atop the head of the massive giant robot through the thronging streets on their way to the Twistin’ Gorilla, a club Doc favors for his dates.

Once they arrive, there is no sign of their inventor, but the “hip” crowd asks them to perform the twist, so in their own inimitable way, they each do the Mercury blup, the Tin can, the Gold tooth, the Lead pencil, the Iron fist and the Platinum ring to the delighted shouts of the onlookers.

Afterward, they decide to help their maker by ordering the robot to take them to his point of origin. Meanwhile, Dr. Yes is being attended to by some men (very tiny by comparison to the huge oriental egg) who announce it’s his birthday and time for a recharge operation. The egg-shaped robot muses that when the Metal Men arrive, they’ll celebrate with cake and ice cleam.

Once the great wall of china is stepped over by the massive robot and his cargo, the Metal Men observe a massive cake and decide to tell the robot to plant them in the cake as candles to camouflage themselves as they prepare to battle the unknown enemy. Sure. Why not?

Then, to their astonishment, the robot picks up a slice of cake to eat and for whatever reason, they seem to be paralyzed in place. But, when it opens its mouth, Doc Magnus falls out, declaring he thought he’d never escape that cannibal robot.

Then the robot makes a fist to crush the cake itself and the battle is on. Soon, Dr. Yes himself shows up to join in and is recognized as the twin of Egg Fu, whom Wonder Woman first encountered in issue #157 [Oct., 1965] and defeated in Wonder Woman #158 [Nov., 1965]. (Plug!)

Seized in an electrified mustache, the Metal Men are powerless as the giant egg-like robot puts them into a device designed to scramble their brains. He offers Tina (“So pletty”) an opportunity to be his “almond cookie,” but she replies, “A thousand times no, Dr. Yes!” An enraged Yes says she’ll now be an egg roll (eye roll) and that after the “blain washing” he’ll send them back as enemies to their own nation.

Doc commands the metal band to cheer for their country as a way to resist the machinations of Dr. Yes. As one they cry, “Hurray for America!” Despite their repeated refrain, soon it’s “Down with America,” and Dr. Yes sends them with the giant robot to return to the land of the free and the home of the brave to subvert things.

They are delivered to a baseball game and as they struggle to overcome the powerful influences placed upon them, they realize the only way to keep from demoralizing all the children in attendance is to short circuit themselves. Soon they’re piles of junk on the playing field.

Dr. Yes isn’t yet finished, though, as he orders his machine to destroy, but the broken-up parts of the Metal Men fly at the robot, tearing it to pieces in one last show of courage and patriotism. Doc collects the pieces and takes them back to his laboratory complex for yet another reassembly session and the story ends as they are brought back.

Well, this one was…interesting. I’ll readily concede the prolific and apparently never-missed-a-deadline efforts of Robert Kanigher, but if part of it involved an odd recycling of an even odder villain, well…

The times have certainly changed and the tropes used were a bit tired and perhaps silly and while I’m a big fan of the Metal Men from way back, this one was a bit over the top even for me. I give it a 5 on the 10-point rating scale.

If you have thoughts or comments on this or anything else Silver Age, feel free to let me know. You know the address: professor_the@hotmail.com .

We’ll be back on the 15th of June with another installment and the webmaster and I hope your time was well-spent. See you next time and…

Long live the Silver Age!

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