A Tribute to the of

I don't recall the exact number of Silver Age comics the webmaster and I had access to as boys, but I know my personal collection of Silver and Bronze Age issues crept up close to the 300 mark.  Being so long ago and with so many in the pile many of them inevitably faded from my memory, but it's easily refreshed when I run across a familiar story or more often a familiar, unforgettable cover.  Such was the case with the issue I've chosen to spotlight this time, namely Metal Men #22 (+ a 2013 Mike DeCarlo recreation) from October-November of 1966 when the robots deal with the "Attack of the Sizzler!" Creator/writer/editor credit belongs to Robert KanigherRoss Andru and Mike Esposito, who did both cover and interior art, really came up with an amazing hook for your newsstand viewing pleasure, wouldn't you say?  The contrast between the basic black background with the brilliant colors emanating from The Sizzler and the highlighted transformation of the Metal Men into human beings is truly stunning.  Even the bright green and yellow letters of "Metal Men" enhance the scene, along with the red banner above.  I know I couldn't have resisted picking this one up.  Now, let's see what's inside and if it measures up.

The splash page gives the reader yet another glimpse of what to expect (we already know the Metal Men will become flesh and blood) when we see the now human figures of Iron, Mercury, Lead and Gold trying to restrain a robot Doc Magnus as he smashes through a wall while the Sizzler looks on. 

The first panel of the story takes us to "…a country hostile to the United States."  Professor Snakelocks, who is actually bald as an egg, is addressing a grim faced crowd from a balcony with the Sizzler standing beside him while a light shines onto a row of mannequins in the form of the Metal Men and their inventor, Doc Magnus.  On a nearby wall is a depiction of the hammer and sickle and the beetle-browed and bespectacled Professor addresses the gathering as "comrades."  Which hostile country do you suppose is being depicted here, eh?  Let's hear it for Cold War propaganda.  Anyway, Snakelocks tells the crowd that the Metal Men have thwarted his every effort to conquer America, but he now has a new and formidable invention, The Sizzler, fashioned from photo-molecular energy siphoned from the Aurora Borealis.  He further explains that this flawless being is capable of powers even he is not aware of, but he is certain it has the capacity to destroy the Metal Men.  To illustrate the point, the Sizzler beams energy from its hands at the figures on stage, melting them.

We segue now to the exercise room of the real Metal Men, where they're busily shaping themselves into various configurations.  Mercury is looping his body into a pretzel knot, while Gold is transforming himself into a stack of gold coins with his visage on them.  Lead is making himself into a large flat shield, as he often does and Iron is a huge Iron sledgehammer.  Tin and Nameless are a large tin can and a tin horn, respectively.  Mercury is grumbling that Tina or Platinum should be there, too or she'll be worthless in the next mission.

We then see Tina, looking on silently and somewhat concealed in the laboratory of her inventor.  As usual, she's pining away for him, wishing that he could use his abilities to transform her into a living being so they can fall in love.  She tearfully pleads with whatever a robot takes for deity that she can be made into a real human being.  Kinda reminds me of Pinocchio… 

Shift scenes again now to an airport where the Professor, wearing a furry hat and getting off a plane with a large red star on it (Hmmmm…) along with a long line of men carrying briefcases is being greeted by a uniformed official who comments that he cannot look into the briefcases due to Snakelocks' diplomatic immunity.  He replies that they're merely magazines so he can learn about this wonderful country.  "Batman, Superman!  Wonder Woman!  Playboy!  Mad!  Ha!  Ha!  Metal Men!"  A nice little plug for some of the other titles, though it seems a little funny to be referring to comics in a comic.  I wonder how the Comics Code let the Playboy reference slide by?

Once the Professor is in his laboratory the brief cases are opened and between the concealed remote control and contact with the atmosphere there is soon a veritable army of robots assembled and at his command.  Then, with a gadget that would have made Dick Tracy proud, the foreigner releases the Sizzler from a compartment in his wristwatch.

A little later, one of the robots is standing beside a set of railroad tracks, waving a red flag while his compadres are concealed in the bushes.  The train is the Hollywood Star Express on its way to Neon City with a passenger list of celebrities.  Once the train stops the hidden robots converge on it and one announces that they're holding the passengers for ransom.  The air-headed stars think it's a publicity stunt.

Yet another change of scenery and Snakelocks is now seen riding in a Wonder Woman-like transparent glider plane with the Sizzler seated next to him.  In delight he listens as the trainmen radio for help.  The trap for the Metal Men is about to be sprung.

Sure enough, the message is received by Doc Magnus, who notices Tina and instructs her to gather the rest of the Metal Men so they can get to the jetaway and respond to the emergency.  She tries to show the inventor some affection, but as usual he brushes her off and thinks to himself the he must replace her defective responsometer so she'll act like the robot he created and not some lovesick girl.

Tina goes to the exercise room and tearfully gives her teammates the message and announces she's through trying to get Doc to love her, ending Part I.

Part II opens with the band flying in the jetaway, which looks a lot like an open air flying saucer, to the scene of the crime.  As Doc lands the craft, the Metal Men spring into action, in most cases taking on the forms they'd been practicing in order to do battle, though Lead is now a massive lead pipe and Gold has formed himself into a sort of cymbal.  Mercury splits into his favored globules and Tina becomes a platinum spring.  As soon as Gold strikes some of the figures he discovers to his surprise that they're robots and alerts the rest of the team.

Meanwhile, hidden above in an artificial cloud, the duo in the transparent plane prepares to strike while the unique heroes are occupied with the expendable robots.  Snakelocks gives the order and the Sizzler shoots a beam of energy from its eyes at the figures below, bathing them in a rain of dazzling energy bolts.  Then, to their surprised delight, each member of the team finds themselves transformed into human form.  Tina is particularly overjoyed as she sees this as an answer to her prayers.  It is only then that they realize Magnus has been affected, too, and in precisely the opposite way.  He is now a robot.  A befuddled Tina wonders how this will shift the dynamic of their relationship as Part II closes.

The curious Professor Snakelocks continues to observe the situation from above and soon his robots begin to finish their mission by capturing the riders on the train.  The transformed Metal Men try valiantly to fight them, but in their human forms they don't have a chance.  It is then that the robot Magnus confronts the robots and demands they release the stars.  As he begins to push his way through one of them announces they're expendable and then explodes to illustrate the point.

Up above the fray, the Professor is overjoyed at his triumph and flies away, sure of his victory over the heroes.

Back on the ground, the saved celebrities are taken with their rescuers, but Tina still has eyes only for Magnus and tries to show her affection, but gets a familiar response.  With his new status as an emotionless robot (though I find it hard to tell much difference) he is all business and boards the jetaway with Tina in close pursuit.  Soon he's busily reading several books simultaneously as he seeks a way to thwart the evil Professor and his creations.  Platinum continues to try and get his attention, but soon realizes it's in vain.

Back to the skies we see an odd occurrence as the Sizzler abruptly exits the aircraft, riding on a power beam of its own creation.  The creature disembarks at the laboratory of Magnus and when it appears inside, an enraged Tina, blaming the Sizzler for what's happened to them, flings beakers and test tubes at it, which fly harmlessly through the energy being's body.  A short, retaliatory burst from the hand of the Sizzler sends Tina sprawling and then it walks away.  Soon the rest of the Metal Men arrive and Tina warns them that the Sizzler is there.

In another part of the lab, the energy being is advancing on Doc Magnus, who orders his recent creation, a robot made of rubber, to advance on the Sizzler and absorb the energy from it.  Unfortunately the rays from the creature are too much and the robot falls apart.  It then advances toward the robot Magnus and he suddenly realizes what no one else had…the Sizzler is a female and also seems to be enamored of the inventor.  He bursts through the wall and runs away, while the Metal Men look on in disbelief.  The Sizzler then raises her arms and showers them all with energy that restores them to their robot selves.  In the final panel they ponder what to do with the Sizzler.  Tina's only angry comment is that she now has a rival and she isn't happy about it, particularly since she doesn't feel she has a chance against "…that living Christmas tree."

This was typical Metal Men fare.  It was pretty much pure fluff from start to finish.  You had the usual running subplot of Tina trying to get Doc to return her affections.  A caricature Communist is the villain and his weapon is a wild card in the form of the Sizzler, who becomes a real wild card when its status as a female is revealed.  The robots get a taste of being human and the human becomes a robot, but as I said, his personality really didn't change appreciably.  Interestingly enough, according to my trusty DC Comics encyclopedia, the latest evolution of Doctor Will Magnus is as a robot.  Apparently he sacrificed his own human form to take control of the ultimate Metal Man, Veridium; as seen in the final issue, #4, of the 1993-94 mini-series, brought to you by the very same team that cooked up the Death of Superman saga *uuuughhh*.  The new "Magnus Veridium" is the strongest of the Metal Men, constructed of an alien alloy and is capable of flight and energy absorption.  He still smokes a pipe, too.  Anyhow, this story was sort of fun, but nothing special.  There was no resolution as far as what happened to Snakelocks, what the future fate of the Sizzler might be (for all I know she never showed again, but I'll have to explore future issues to find out) and how and when Doc was restored to his form.  Like I said, just fluff, so it's a rating of 5 this time around.

Be on the lookout at this very URL for the next installment of the Silver Age Sage in approximately two weeks when another blast from the past will be reviewed and scrutinized.  If you have a request, question or comment, I'm all ears (eyes?) and can be contacted any time at my handy e-mail:  professor_the@hotmail.com.  I'll be on the lookout for your thoughts and hope you'll be back soon.

Long live the Silver Age!

© 2000-2005 by B.D.S.

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