Just as the previous issue would have made a fabulous “Doom Patrol” #0 or even “Cyborg” #0, writer Geoff Johns and artists Ivan Reis, Joe Prado and Scott Hanna make “Justice League” #28 a magnificent comic that could serve as “Metal Men” #0. With less than twenty panels devoted to the present day and the threat posed by the Crime Syndicate in this “Forever Evil” tie-in, Johns and crew focus on the origins and initial interactions of the Metal Men.
Polished up for today’s audiences, the story of Will Magnus no longer involves a middle-aged genius inventor, but rather begins with a fresh out of Carnegie Mellon Magnus under contract to the military. Less Jimmy Stewart and more Jim Parsons in persona and appearance, Magnus is locked into today’s culture: more comfortable dealing with people through electronic means than in the flesh. This plays right into the development of the Metal Men as Magnus conceives of and creates the responsometer — a device that anthropomorphizes the traits of the molten metals it is introduced into, imbuing those traits with personality. The six dispensed responsometers yield Gold, Tin, Lead, Iron, Mercury and Platinum, all of whom are afforded an expository introduction courtesy of Johns.
Johns writes the dialog with enough space around it for Ivan Reis and his more than capable duo of finishers — Scott Hanna and Joe Prado — to present the Metal Men as they emerge for the first time, giving each of Magnus’ creations a chance to introduce themselves to readers and show off the added Transformers influence to elements of the characters’ classic designs. Reis plays up the cheesecake on Platinum’s emergence, which is almost comical, but also infers Magnus’ point of view towards that member of his newly minted team. Rod Reis continues to make this book sing. Yes, the artwork from Ivan Reis is topnotch and exactly what should be in a flagship title like “Justice League,” but Rod Reis continues to explore the boundaries of what coloring can bring to a story. Playful colors, with obvious touches of watercolors and pastels (or watercolor and pastel filters in Photoshop) shade the story with nearly tangible emotion and give the Metal Men’s debut a surprisingly organic appearance. With all of the magnificent art in “Justice League” #28, it is definitely worth mentioning that Dezi Sienty provides solid, non-disruptive, but thorough lettering, including very flexible balloon tales that follow the action without obstructing it. Sienty also shows the readers that each of the Metal Men each enunciate differently, further defining the personalities of these half-dozen characters.
While the premise of “Justice League” #28 is that Cyborg needs a team, and hopes Magnus will furnish him with one through the Metal Men, this series continues to be a much more of a “Silver Age Showcase,” reviving characters and concepts, but giving them a gorgeous new appearance thanks to the talented visual crew. In addition to introducing the Metal Men, this introductory issue brings the debut of Chemo and implies that there are potentially more characters waiting to be discovered as Magnus alludes to a race to produce responsive automatons. While I personally prefer the balance between these wonderful, careful reimaginings (like that of the Doom Patrol in the previous issue), and a continued progression of story, I certainly cannot complain about the enjoyable content Geoff Johns, Ivan Reis, Rod Reis and crew bring to “Justice League” #28. Maybe the next issue will move the “Forever Evil” story forward a bit, but for now, this is a nice, welcome change of pace.