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Sunday, July 16, 2006

The Crank File: Metal Men #3-5

Having read the entire archive in its entirity on Thursday, I've come to the conclusion that Robert Kanigher's Metal Men stories aren't so much driven by plot or characterization as they are driven by complete and utter insanity.

But don't worry: It's the good kind. And nowhere--not even in the creation of everyone's favorite man-shaped chemical monstrosity bent on total annihilation--is it better or crazier than in the three-part saga of the Metal Men's outer-space adventure that culminates in 1964's MENACE OF THE MAMMOTH ROBOTS!

This is one of those rare occasions where I don't have to exaggerate at all; the source material is just that crazy. How do I know this?

Because the whole thing gets started when Platinum--in an effort to thank Doc Magnus for using Thought Force X to travel to the moon to gather up her pieces and rebuild her--tries to make a fried egg and ends up unleashing an army of world-conquering giant lunar amoebas.

Technically, the story starts when Platinum is destroyed on the moon in the first place by a Plutonium robot created by an evil version of Doc Magnus that she made, but really: the Metal Men sacrifice their lives in every story, so that's hardly worth mentioning. Aside from the whole "Evil Doc Magnus Blows Up A Plutonium Robot on the Moon" thing, which... wow.

Anyway, the Giant Moon Amoeba destroys a good 60% of the Metal Men (as should be expected by now) before they end up shoveling them into Tin, in handy can form, and firing him out into space for a while until Doc can think up a better solution. Which he gets around to in, oh, two months or so.

And that's when things start to get weird.

Because that's where THE AMAZON ROBOT QUEEN OF OUTER SPAAAACE comes into the picture.

Apparently, things just haven't been the same since Tom Servo left.

The Queen, who's been keeping an eye on Tin through a telescope conveniently located right next to her Space Throne, sends out a couple of scientists to kidnap Tin from his geosynchronous orbit and drag him back to her planet for marriage, which--oddly enough--is almost exactly what happens to Platinum two issues before during the Menace of the Missile Men, who are only slightly less crazy. And that's a pretty disturbing pattern.

So after a judicious application of laser beams upside his head (just for kicks, apparently), the Amazon Robot Scientists snag Tin and drag him back to their planet right before Doc Magnus shows up to put his Master Plan into action. Which is, of course, "put the amobas inside another Metal Man, and then boil him alive to kill them."

Man. That guy's a dick.

Meanwhile, back on Spacerobotamazonia, Tin is presented to the Queen, who is somewhat disappointed in his... uh... size.

Fortunately, the Queen has a solution: A bowl of fruit that will make Tin grow to match her own gargantuan size and also turn him evil.

Just so we're clear on this, that's:


That can make a robot grow a hundred feet taller.

And will also turn him evil

So while the Queen's been squeezing Giant Evil Lemon Juice on a hapless Tin, the rest of the Metal Men and Doc Magnus, having finished boiling Lead alive in the name of Science!, crash land on the planet, only to be attacked by what appears to be an ornithopter and carted off to be made into a living charm bracelet by a giant robot falconer and--as a tribute to the new King of the Space Robot Amazons--put into a crane game.

It is, of course, the only crane game in the history of mankind that hasn't been thoroughly rigged, and so Tin pulls out a shiny new Metal Men charm bracelet. Fortunately, it's about this time that the evil-inducing portion of the Space Robot Fruit Juice wears off, and Tin turns into a buzzsaw and busts out of the throne room towards Magnus's rocketship to make their escape.

But it's not without complications: The fruit juice splashed onto the Metal Men, and they end up huge just as Tin shrinks back to his normal size. They are not, however, evil (because Bob Kanigher, that's why) and end up sending Tin back to Earth in the rocketship while they remain planetside, chained up and trying to evade capture by the Queen and her robot bloodhounds in what I can only assume is a mind-shatteringly awesome parody of the Defiant Ones.

So awesome, in fact, that when they're eventually cornered after Tin crash-lands the rocketship in the ocean and they shrink back to their normal size, they deal with the situation in the only way that the ISB allows--nay, demands from its subjects:


So, to recap:

Tina makes a fried egg and unleashes the Moon Parasite Apocalypse, and somehow that ends with the Metal Men chained together on a giant charm bracelet leading a revolution on the planet of the Amazon Robots from Outer Space.

I think it's safe to say it: YOU ARE NOW FREAKING OUT.

More From the Crank File:

| The Brave and the Bold #81 |
| Adventure Comics #303 |


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think it's safe to say that this post just punched me in the face with Awesome.

7/17/2006 2:24 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Man, can you imagine what just doing the laundry would be like for these people?

7/17/2006 2:52 AM

Blogger Chance said...

I think it's safe to say that I MUST OWN THIS VOLUME.

7/17/2006 3:00 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think by now it's safe to say that Bob Kanigher was the Grant Morrison before Grant Morrison.

Doom Patrol and the Metal Men managed to take the inane goofiness of books like Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen and turn it into something much better and mor compelling.

It's a gigantic shame that so few people know about either title.

The Metal Men archive should be required reading for any Morrison fan.

7/17/2006 5:23 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

See, this is how you do it.


7/17/2006 7:15 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...






Screw it. I'm going back to bed.

7/17/2006 8:49 AM

Blogger Bill said...


Oh, and any MST3K reference is a good MST3K reference.

7/17/2006 9:38 AM

Blogger Mark W. Hale said...

"The mighty hero I lost my motor to"?

Is that robot for having your cherry popped?

7/17/2006 10:14 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

"He's become a Menacing Giant -- and is capturing us -- his own Metal Band!"

So, basically this is a story about when Ozzy left Sabbath?

7/17/2006 2:55 PM

Blogger Devon Sanders said...

Is it wrong to be turned on by a girl robot in a red dress?

7/23/2006 9:18 AM

Anonymous Ebenezer said...

It can't work in reality, that's exactly what I think.
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Anonymous Helen said...

Quite helpful piece of writing, much thanks for this article.

9/08/2012 2:15 PM


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