Metal Men #48 (October-November, 1976)
"Who is Bruce Gordon and Why is he Doing those Terrible Things to Himself?"
Script - Martin Pasko
Artist/Co-Plotter - Walt Simonson
Colorist - Carl Gafford
Letterer - Gaspar
Editor/Co-Plotter - Gerry Conway
Cover Price: $0.30
It's weird the trends you notice when you trawl the cheap-o bins with any regularity. I mentioned last month that I'd never seen a copy of Outsiders #5 without some "spinal damage", and that's still true... just this weekend I found another, with the same splitting.
Well, on the other hand... I've yet to come across a 1970's issue of Metal Men that is in less than pristine condition! If I were a betting man (and thankfully, I'm not) I'd wager that these Metal Men have never even been opened! They look crisper than most new releases!
Do I have a point? C'mon, do I ever? Let's just get to da book.
We join the Metal Men and Will Magnus in the lab, where the latter is attempting to build a better "responsometer". Apparently, something had happened to Tina (Platinum) in an earlier adventure that the Doc is trying to keep from reoccurring... something about "making eyes at anything in rivets"... hmm, maybe the Doc's feeling a bit jealous. Either way, they call it quits for the day. The Metal Men decide to go see a movie, and Mercury reminds us (for the first time today) that he's liquid at room temperature... and throws in his atomic number (80) for good measure.
Before they can hit the town, a trio of women burst into the lab... one of which is sobbing uncontrollably. Her name is Mona Bennet, and she is desperately in need of Magnus's help. Ya see, it has to do with her fiance... Bruce Gordon! We might know him by his snazzier name... Eclipso!
She shares the story of Bruce being nicked by the black diamond, fighting the Justice League, and ultimately trying to "burn out" the Eclipso persona by inventing a ridiculously powerful tanning bed. It doesn't work all that well... and the high-intensity lamp shatters. Eclipso then begins creeping around Mona's home... finding an unopened letter from her father, Dr. Simon Bennet. It's a letter addressed to Bruce informing him the answers he requires are located at Georgia Augusta University Library in Gottingen, West Germany. Wow, "West" Germany... I remember being such an annoyed and dumb eight year old knowing that I had an "out-of-date" globe in my bedroom when they took the wall down... funny the stupid things you remember. Anyhoo, Magnus decides he and his Metal Men are Germany-bound.
Mona shares some more information from "Daddy". Back in the yesteryear, the Spanish Inquisition (who no one ever expects) arrived in Peru, somewhere near Machu Picchu. They procured some parchments... and burned them as heretical texts. One parchment, however, was smuggled out before the torches were lit. If we're going to Germany, why are we talking about Peru? Hmm...
Bada-bing, bada-boom... we're in (West) Germany, and the Metal Men are already confronting Eclipso. That was quick... though, to be fair, they did have his exact destination. Eclipso holds his black diamond to his left eye... and, wrecks Mercury! He then beats the hell out of the rest... before bathing the crew in blackness and ducking away.
After gathering themselves, Magnus and the Mets notice a librarian writhing around in pain. The Doc heads over, and is directed to some paperwork on the desk. The librarian dies right afterward. Gold finds a map with an X marking the spot somewhere in the Peruvian Andes. Oh! That's why we were talking about Peru!
Along the way, Will welds Mercury's arm back on... and Merc takes the opportunity to remind us that he is liquid at room temperature.
It's not long before they arrive in an "unspectacular" clearing... which, I dunno... looks pretty spectacular to me.
Anyhoo, they land the saucer... and are almost immediately attacked (and thrashed) by Eclipso.
It comes down to Eclipso and Tin. Tin is the stuttering, kinda nebbish Metal Man... but perhaps the one with the most heart. He takes to hiding in the saucer... and when Eclipso comes a'calling, he Tin blasts him in the face with Magnus's welding torch! This burst of light is enough to revert ol' Moonface to (an apologetic) Bruce Gordon.
When the dust settles, the crew notices that a stone structure attached to the temple appears to be pointing to a mountain pass just off the mainland... on Diablo Island! Surely nothing too ominous about that.
One quick flight later, and we're on Diablo Island. They enter a cave (which Gordon has apparently already visited back in House of Secrets #67). Inside is an alter... on the alter, a tablet... on the tablet, an inscription of an eclipsed Sun! Iron snags it, and a cave-in commences!
The group flees, tablet in hand. Outside, the Metal Men's saucer flies overhead and... blocks the Sun, giving the look of a solar eclipse. Uh-oh! Gordon reverts to his two-tone form and snatches the tablet. He then hustles up the side of a cliff to begin chanting the words inscribed!
The Metal Men try and stop him, however, before they can reach the clifftop, Eclipso hurls the tablet into a just-arrived storm cloud. Mercury and Iron team up to get the drop on the Moonfaced creep, but it's too late. He's already awakened... Umbra!
Well... I really wanted to like this more than I did, but couldn't help but to be a bit bored throughout. It actually took me several attempts to get through this one.
I don't have much of a connection to the Metal Men. I think they're cool to look at, have some neat character quirks, and work quite well as guest stars... their solo (so to speak) adventures always leave me a bit cold. Not even the threat of Eclipso could fix this for me.
There really isn't all that much to say here. Everything "worked", just didn't "work for me". I thought Simonson's art was really nice, so there's that. I liked the non-action bits where we could really key in on the Metal Men's idiosyncrasies... Tin's stutter and insecurity, Platinum diggin' on "darling" Will Magnus, Mercury reminding us over and over that he's liquid at room temperature. That stuff I was pretty entertained by. The action scenes and globe-trotting... ehhh...
Eclipso can also be a tough baddie to really invest in. His powers are just so... I dunno, cheap? It's like at any given moment he can switch... which you'd figure is a great thing for building tension, but with him it's an expectation. We know it's going to happen... and it's always going to happen at the most inopportune time for the heroes. Eh, it's kind of his thing, so whattayagonnado?
Overall... to me, this is a very pretty book with a few neat character moments. Unfortunately, I was pretty bored/underwhelmed by the rest.