The Week in Trade – Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau

Posted on May 16, 2010. Filed under: Reviews |

The Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau

The Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau

Hello. I’m Wes Gilleland. Erik has been kind enough to let me post on “By Odin’s Beard” my trade paperback reviews. From time to time I will be reviewing trades that I have accumulated and are still currently available for purchase. I hope that these reviews will be more than just me ranting and raving, and provide you, the reader, with a balanced point of view. I’m still fairly new at this review business, but I promise I will strive to make myself better. Please, feel free to comment any way you like, but do try to be polite. If you have a suggestion for a trade that you think I should check out, feel free to let me know (find me on Twitter) ! Now, on to the review…

The Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau

Hardcover: $24.99

Softcover: $14.99 ($11.24 on Amazon as of this posting)

I love to see imagination pushed to its limits; to see something that makes me stop and say, “Wow”. That is what I look for when browsing for entertainment. The Metal Men have always instilled that sense of astonishment in me ever since I saw them a couple of years ago, when I first started reading comics with my downloaded copies (sadly, that’s how I got my start) of the entire DC One Million run. Even though their part in the greater scheme of things was rather small, I was absolutely blown away by the sheer imagination of the concept behind them. Characters based off the traits of elements! Wow! When I started visiting my local comic shop, I was heartbroken to learn that the Metal Men didn’t have a dedicated series.

I heard about Duncan Rouleau’s mini series of the Metal Men a little too late (about two years too late). Luckily, A+ Comics in Lexington, KY (my local comic shop) had a hardcover copy available for purchase. I hastily purchased the trade and proceeded to the nearby Arby’s to read in the good company of melt-y mozzarella sticks. What awaited me was, to say the least, extraordinary.

Out of the gate, Rouleau catches your attention and never lets go with mind-blowing artwork. Seriously. The panels damn near jump off the page with action. The art and designs themselves are different, but not so different that they’re unfamiliar and unpleasing. The character designs are what sell the story (though the story can sell itself). Compare the character designs of 1970’s Metal Men to Rouleau’s:

  • Lead is more child-like and looks like a big (dense) teddy bear.
  • Gold is more refined looking and leader-y.
  • Iron looks like the bad-ass he really is.
  • Platinum has a more updated, bad-girl feel to her.
  • Mercury… still looks like Mercury.
  • Tin looks more timid than ever.

The changes to the feel and look of the Metal Men are refreshing to the eyes, as is Rouleau’s addition to the team: Copper! Seriously. Why wasn’t Copper in the original Metal Men? Copper feels kind of like the new kid throughout the story, which is a neat dynamic to give to the team (Mercury finally has someone to pick on besides Tin). I suppose it also serves to balance out the “gender” gap by adding another female to the team. Do robots really have genders? *shrugs*

So enough about the beautiful artwork. Let’s talk story.

Again, from the get-go, it’s different. Dark arts and black magic in a book about robots? How does that pan out? Pretty darn well, actually. Rouleau also gives us a unique twist on the origin and the history of the Metal Men and their creator, Doctor William Magnus. Starting out “One thousand six hundred and forty-three years after the second fall of Atlantis” and at a Future Young Inventors Show where a young Doctor Magnus is presenting his “Hypo-hyper Flux Theory” all at once, this story sends you on a never-ending thrill ride full of mystery and giant monster fights. You heard me. Giant. Monster. Fights. What more could you want?!

Rouleau shows his love for the Metal Men by giving them a sense of family unseen in previous incarnations. When the Metal Men act, they act as a team, but more in a way that the Fantastic Four would. They argue, complain, and poke fun at one another, but they always try to help each other out and make sure everyone makes it back in one piece. Also, while most previous Metal Men stories would be what I call “disaster centric” (meaning they focus on the current conflict), Rouleau’s tale seems to be more centered around Doctor Magnus and how he develops through his experiences with the Metal Men. In this tale, Doctor Magnus is not just an inventor and genius extraordinaire, but also a heartbroken lover and a man with a dream. Though he may spend his life with machines, Doctor Magnus is possibly more human than most people today. Beautiful.

I’ll admit it, I’m a fanboy. I absolutely love this story. Duncan Rouleau has won my heart! Rather… he would have… if he didn’t leave on a cliffhanger! Be warned, the story ends on a great note, but it leaves you wanting so much more! To my knowledge, this loose end hasn’t been tied up yet, but one can only hope that will be remedied soon.

In conclusion, if you like fantastic art and non-stop action, this book is for you. If you’re a Metal Men fan and you’re looking for something new, pick up this trade. If you’re like me and you celebrate imagination and those that push its limits, do yourself a favor and buy this trade! If you simply want to read a good book about finding the thing that makes us human, pick up Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau and be prepared to be blown away.

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3 Responses to “The Week in Trade – Metal Men by Duncan Rouleau”

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Fantastic review. I will have to read this trade, and look back at the ones from the 70s. I also think that the reviewer is pretty damn sexy. 🙂

Great review, Wes! Thanks for posting it on the site, I’m really looking forward to more. I also think I’m gonna look for this trade when I go to Borders today!

Nice review Wes, didn’t have that robotic feel some of those old coots that have done it for far too long start to emanate. Keep up the good work.

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