August 23, 2002
11:30 AM   Subscribe

My buddy and I are in a pub, and I mention this website called Gone and Forgotten, which is all about superheroes who were so ill-conceived that they were quickly abandoned. And my buddy says "What about the Metal Men -- do they talk about the Metal Men?" And I say "The Metal who?" And my buddy says "They were these robots, and they had each had the powers associated with the metal they were made of. Like, Lead could block x-rays, and Mercury could, I dunno, take your temperature or something." And I tell my buddy that, although I don't know if the Metal Men appear on the virtual pages of G.A.F., I am certain that someone out there on the Internet has created a Unofficial Metal Man Fan Page. And I am right.
posted by Shadowkeeper (26 comments total)
Damn you, Shadowkeeper. I avoid the Friday frivolity and now look at what you've done. I'm glad those are sites quick reads. Love the setup, too.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:44 AM on August 23, 2002

correction - "sites are"
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:45 AM on August 23, 2002

No damn you, Wulfgar, because there's plenty more where that came from! The Metal Men, The Metal Men, and The Metal Men figurine collection for only $36.95 USA / $54.95 Can.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 11:46 AM on August 23, 2002

I loved the Metal Men.

They were killed off a few years ago, though. Sniff.
posted by linux at 11:48 AM on August 23, 2002

I am truly damned. There goes my afternoon.
posted by Wulfgar! at 11:49 AM on August 23, 2002

Oh jeez, first I found Sammy the Sperm to play with today, and now the Metal Men. So much for getting anything done today. (Note: Sammy the Sperm is a cartoon, but still be careful if visiting from work.)
posted by greengrl at 11:53 AM on August 23, 2002

The guy at my local comic shop has a full set of Metal Men t-shirts. Each shirt has a symbol of one of the characters on it. I swear, it's all he owns, because he's always got one on.

I wonder if they have any correlation to his mood.

"Look out, Dan's wearing IRON today!"
posted by quibx at 11:57 AM on August 23, 2002

rainbow man?
posted by moz at 12:07 PM on August 23, 2002

Y'know, I just re-read my response, and that sounds really bad, doesn't it? :-O
posted by greengrl at 12:08 PM on August 23, 2002

From one of the scanned pages, it seemed kids could actually learn something useful from the Metal Men.

Mercury, meat Gallium, the metal that turns liquid in the human palm or at room temperatures of 87.8 degrees!

That's probably why they killed it.
posted by Triplanetary at 12:10 PM on August 23, 2002

So like, who would win in a fight, Magneto or the Metal Men with Mini-Ditka?
posted by Stan Chin at 12:18 PM on August 23, 2002

The Metal Men were great, perfect combinations of retro 1950s throwback kitsch and those dusty filmstrips you used to watch in science class when the teacher was too tired to come up with a lesson plan.

They were DC characters when I knew them, but didn't they belong to Charlton Comics first. DC bought many of the Charlton characters in the late 80s, like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom.
posted by grabbingsand at 12:19 PM on August 23, 2002

One of my favorite terrible comic books...... Superpro the professional football superhero. Yes, I own this.
posted by Rattmouth at 12:20 PM on August 23, 2002

Man, I had forgotten all about these guys since I sold off my comic collection 32 years ago. Blogs rule......
posted by Pressed Rat at 12:30 PM on August 23, 2002

Rattmouth: I've got that issue too! The best is the monster he's got to fight who's created from a bad batch of steroids. How was Superpro created again? He accidentally sets fire to the old football reels and burns himself?
posted by ODiV at 12:35 PM on August 23, 2002

The Metal Men are prominently featured at the Periodic Table of Comic Books!

Fun for dorks, indeed!
posted by mikrophon at 12:42 PM on August 23, 2002

Ha ha... I bought Action Comics 590 (first Metal Men) because they looked like cool superheros to me. I really enjoyed the comic - I never reazlied until now that they were nobody's in a filler issue. Wow... poor Metal men. May they someday have their own miniseries and rise to glory once again!
posted by timbley at 12:58 PM on August 23, 2002

They were DC characters when I knew them, but didn't they belong to Charlton Comics first. DC bought many of the Charlton characters in the late 80s, like Blue Beetle and Captain Atom.

I'm pretty sure they were DC from the start. Incidentally, Alan Moore's Watchmen started out as a reimagining of Charlton characters (Captain Atom = Dr Manhattan, Rorschach = The Question, etc.), if memory serves.
posted by hilker at 1:01 PM on August 23, 2002

May they someday have their own miniseries and rise to glory once again!

Yeah, I'd hold on to that comic.
posted by vacapinta at 1:14 PM on August 23, 2002

The ultimate refuge for Superheros that never made it had to be the Dial H for Hero series from back in the early 60's and then again in the 80's. You can read the page if you're interested but basically it's this dial that creates a new superhero every time you "dial" it.

This had to be a dustbin for all of the DC writer's failed characters. Such notables as: Color Commando, Captain Electron, the Sixth Sensor, Music Master, Ragnarok the Cosmic Viking, the Martian Marshal, Futura, the Grasshopper, Thumbelina, Puma the She-Cat, Ms. Muscle, and Raggedy Doll.
posted by jeremias at 1:20 PM on August 23, 2002

Why did I have to read this?
"I could kill you..." "Yes, you could Nicky! You could cut me up in a thousand pieces and every piece will still love you..."

Pat Boone and Erik Estrada deliver those sterling lines to one another in the movie.

More disturbing that all of that, however, is that while reading the GAF site I remembered that I avidly read the New Universe. Am I the only one?
posted by footballrabi at 1:23 PM on August 23, 2002

ah! the cross and the switchblade! and i think i have a comic version of it in the attic of my parent's house.

bought at a church yardsale, of course.
posted by grabbingsand at 1:37 PM on August 23, 2002

I remembered that I avidly read the New Universe. Am I the only one?

You are not alone... I was a big fan of Starbrand and DP7.
posted by quibx at 3:06 PM on August 23, 2002


I remember Dial H For Hero* from the 80s. I had not known it had had a previous life in the 60s.

The characters (in the 80s at least) came from fan submissions, usually younger fans judging from the results that came of dialing H-E-R-O. Those were some of the most misbegotten flying lamoids to ever appear in comics, worse even than the rejects from the Legion of Substitute Heroes (back when Keith Giffen was ruining the Legion).

I wonder what would have happened if a holder of the "magic H dial" had dialed O-R-E-O.

*differing link from jeremias'. Includes comprehensive index of all DHfH appearances. You know you want 'em.
posted by ursus_comiter at 9:17 PM on August 23, 2002

The amount of time and research that must have gone into that DHfH index, ursus, is profoundly unsettling.

I don't want to touch off a firestorm, here, but I always thought that one of the dumbest superheroes in the DC canon was, well, Firestorm. For the uninitiated, Firestorm was a major character back in the 80's: he had his own monthly series and was a member of the JLA. He also had the world's most ridiculous power. But before I describe this power to you, let's briefly discuss the scourge of "Power Inflation," shall we?

Power Inflation occurs when a superhero has a nebulous or poorly-defined set of abilities. Take, as a counterexample, Green Arrow (or "Hawkeye" if you will). Here you have a guy who can do one and only one thing: shoot arrows really, really well. Writers can try and spice up his series by adding a bunch of crazy new missiles, like the Boxing Glove Arrow or The Arrow That Makes A Delicious Tamale Pie, but ultimately the main character is the same arrow-shooting dude issue after issue after issue.

Then, on the other hand, you have characters like "The Flash". The Flash has what seems to be a fairly unambiguous power -- he can move really fast -- but despite his superhuman speed, Power Inflation eventually caught up to him. At first all he did was run around and disarm crooks before they could fire their guns. But then writers began to allow him to do all sorts of other stuff, like run on water and run up the sides of buildings (on the premise that gravity wouldn't have time to affect him before he got to the other side of the pond or reached the rooftop). Then someone announced that The Flash could vibrate his molecules so quickly that they (the molecules) could pass unhindered through solid matter. And it was all downhill from there. Given the ability to "vibrate his molecules" at different frequencies, Flash was suddenly able to travel to other dimensions, to travel through time, to swim in lava, etc. Furthermore, writers kept stepping on The Flash's acceleration pedal, to the point where he was a light-speed-moving molecule-vibrating time-traveling force of nature.

You can see how this could be a problem for a writer. First of all, the average length of a Flash comic should really only be one panel, as he wraps up the entire story in .00000056 seconds. Second, they had to keep introducing more and more powerful villians just to keep things interesting. One day they just gave up on standard villains and introduced "Reverse Flash," who was just like Flash except bad. (You could tell he was bad because his costume was the opposite colors of The Flash!) Reverse-Flash bame Flash's arch-nemesis, and so now you had these two guys with the exact same powers duking it out month after month, making the whole thing about as interesting as a fist fight in a parking lot.

Eventually they did what they always do when Power Inflation gets out of control: kill the hero and start over. After The Flash kicked the bucket a new Flash took his place, this one with a speed limit. (The new Flash could only run at the speed of sound and couldn't do any of that new-fangled molecule vibratin'). Later they killed Superman, and then resurrected him all humble and stuff; Green Lantern (Hal Jordan) -- who, by this time, was pretty much invicible with his Magic Ring O' Kickass -- went berserk, after which they brought in a new, inexperienced, depowered Green lantern to take his place; Batman got his back broken, etc. Thus, Power Inflation inevitably leads to Power Devaluation.

Okay, so: Firestorm. "Firestorm: The Nuclear Man" had just one power, and that power was "the ability to rearrange the atomic structure of matter". That's right. He would point his finger at a gun and the gun would turn into a Rubix Cube. His "weakness," supposedly, was that he couldn't affect organic matter, meaning that he couldn't just turn a jaywaker into a mango. But he could (and did) "rearrange the atomic structure" of the air around bad guys so that they were suddenly standing in a cloud of sleeping gas or a giant iron cage. And the prohibition against organic matter didn't extend to his own body, so he could rearrange his own molecular matter to turn into, you know, whatever -- a tank or huge butterfly net or The Flash. Oh, and (according to this page) he could also "alter the density of objects (including his own body, even to render himself intangible) ... project bolts of nuclear energy, fly at great speeds, and absorb explosive force and radiation into his body harmlessly". In other words, he was "Firestorm: The Nuclear Man Who Can Do Anything He Damn Well Pleases!" The end.

He reminds me of no one some much as this guy

The writers of Firestorm eventually just gave up and said "Okay, he's a God," at which point he became even more powerful (although I dunno how -- maybe he could now flawlessly filter spam or something). And then a bunch of stuff happened after I stopped reading comic books. And now he's an alcoholic underwear model. I kid you not.
posted by Shadowkeeper at 10:26 AM on August 24, 2002

Matter Eater Lad = Best Superhero of All Time.
posted by Fabulon7 at 12:04 PM on August 24, 2002

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