Review of Some Robots, Part 3, By Johnathan

Hey there, robot fans! John Review here, fresh from a weekend of debauchery and recovery from the same, with another look at some of those wacky anthropomorphic elements from the pages of Metal Men comics. I was kind of thinking of reviewing the Gas Gang today but don't really have the mental stamina required to stay on one topic for so long. So: random robots it is!

First up is Potassium, who starts off strong but doesn't really stand up to heavy scrutiny. Let's watch:

Okay, so the good points of this little tableau are as follows: Potassium's a pretty sharp-looking guy. I think that he might be wearing a blazer, and he's definitely rocking one of the best Metal Men hats that I've seen thusfar. Plus, he's into gardening, so that's a plus. Wait, though... did he just interrupt Romeo and Juliet to brag about his fertilizing abilities? Yeesh, Potassium, I gotta say: that's a bit intrusive. Did you just dash in to name-drop yourself the once or hang out there all night?

ROMEO: But soft! What light through yonder window breaks?

POTASSIUM: Potassium carbonate, or potash, is used in glass manufacturing!

ROMEO: It is the East, and Juliet is the sun!

POTASSIUM: Soybeans are a good source of dietary potassium!

ROMEO: Arise, fair sun, and kill the envious moon,

POTASSIUM: Potassium chloride is used in executions by lethal injection!

ROMEO: Who is already sick and pale with grief

POTASSIUM: Research has indicated that diets high in potassium can reduce the risk of hypertension!

ROMEO: That thou her maid are far more fair than she.

POTASSIUM: ... Potassium is the seventh most abundant element in the earth's crust!

If I were Romeo I'd've kicked him off of the ladder.


Potassium also has a sister:

I don't know. She seems cool, and she can use her dandruff to grow flowers with faces, but I don't trust her. I'm pretty sure that if you put her in a room with Hamlet she'd be telling him about the important part that potassium had played in the manufacture of his bare bodkin.

In contrast to the super-useful Potassium Twins comes this sorry bunch, who as of 1967 had nothing to offer mankind:

Aw. Look at the sad, unemployed elements. Not only are they not enriching the lives of everyday Joes like you and me, they can't even get the respect necessary for that security guard to get their names right. Seriously: Farancium? Rubibium? You're not making it any easier for the poor schmoes, security man.

Depending on your level of empathy for fictional robots, you might be happy to know that - according to my minimal research - the line has shrunk in the last forty years. Now it's just Berkelium, Francium and Protactinium standing out there, trying to impress each other with stories about their half-lives and tales of researchers whom they've irradiated. Sometimes Francium cries at night.

The Robot Unemployment Line is JOHN APPROVED!

This one's my favourite:

Old Uncle Technetium telling the tots about being the very first artificially synthesized element. Man, do I love his suit. And his cigar. And the fact that he wears a medallion with his name on it around his neck, which just might make him the Original Gangster, or possibly the Original Old-Timey Senator. I'll bet he can filibuster 'til the (irradiated, sickly) cows come home. Plus, those are the cutest robot kids ever. Plus plus: robot rug!


Not quite a robot but still:

There's something about a bald, yellow giant who's punching out what are apparently sentient insects that just gets me right here, you know? Look at how grim they all are: Arsenic doesn't love his job - he just does it. The boss tells him to 'take care of' some troublemakers and WHROOOSH! they're history. That's what I like about this picture: everyone's appropriately solemn in the face of death.

Not at all like here:

That's right, Metal Men. Smile and eat your robotic sandwiches whilst dozens of lives are extinguished directly above you. Why the hell are you sanctioning the sterilization of the local ecosystem? It's not like the mosquitoes are going to bite you, is it? Or are you afraid that a fly will devour one of your metal sandwiches? Seriously, guys. Just because you're hanging around with an animate can of bug spray doesn't mean that you have to have it spray every bug you see. At least wait until Doc Magnus is being carried away by fire ants or something.

Such environmental irresponsibility is NOT APPROVED.

Review of Some Robots, Part 1, By Johnathan

Ah, the Metal Men. They, in all of their vaguely-educational glory, are my latest semi-obsession.

Assuming that someone who's not a comic book nerd is reading this, a quick description of the Metal Men and what they stood for:

The Metal Men were a group of robots created by Dr. Will Magnus. Thanks to a bit of technology called a "responsometer" they were astonishingly human-like, with genuine personalities and everything. As the name suggests, they're all made out of a different metal, and they're obsessed with that metal. Seriously, check it out:

That's their first appearance but really, they talk like that all the time. Every second sentence is about melting points or ductility or something like that. Luckily they're entertaining as hell, so it doesn't get old. Metal Men fans note: the third sentence out of Mercury's mouth is the "liquid at room temperature" bit.

The Metal Men are cool on a lot of levels: first, they've got real personalities - they're not just a bunch of clones of every other super-team of the 1960s. Tin's inferiority complex and Mercury's arrogance were especially unusual for heroes of the time. Plus, Tina the Platinum robot was in love with Doc Magnus, which led to sufficient dramatic tension to fuel a battleship.

But enough about the Metal Men! Entertaining as they are, they're not the focus of this series of reviews. Rather, I'm going to write about the other elemental robots who appear in the series, because there are a lot of them. They creep in around the edges, whether as antagonists or as bit characters in the little "Metal Facts" sections that appeared in every issue.

The very first of these characters came as a pair:

Aw, look at them. So generic. Not only did Copper and Silver have some lousy character design problems, they evidently had the wrong names - I'm pretty sure that that's what the Romans are so surprised about. Still, there's one thing that this panel did well: set precedent. It said "why show the kids boring lumps of metal when you can anthropomophise? And robotiform?"

For that reason, Copper and Sillver are JOHN APPROVED.

This one's interesting. It's from a page about gold and features three Metal Men-as-knights in the centre, flanked by a couple of Generic Metal Dudes (GMDs). I gotta say, when I started writing this review I thought it'd be easy to figure out who these guys were supposed to be, but after ransacking half of the Alchemy sites on the internet I don't have much. GMD on the left might be Antimony and GMD on the right might be Arsenic, but probably not. Darned artists forty years ago... didn't they realize that someone would obsess about that sort of thing someday? Plus, Gold is looking kind of fat.