Tagged: Metal Men

Ed Catto: One Man’s Treasure

You know the old saying: One’s man’s trash is another man’s treasure. That applies to me and my pals so often.

Now, I realize I’m very blessed: I have a great bunch of friends. I share interests and/or a long history with each them. I guess that’s part of the definition of a friend. But we don’t all love the same stuff. And when it comes to Geek Culture, a bunch of my friends just aren’t that into it.

I pity those fools as I flip through the latest PaperGirls.

Freddie P is that type of friend. He’s a long-time pal. We grew up in the same small town, kept in touch through college and lived near another in those wild just-a-few-years-outta-college days. After that, we always stayed in touch. We’ve watched each other’s families grow up. We laughed in good times and were always there in tough times.

My pal and his effervescent wife, Mare, just came for a visit. We had way too much fun catching up and enjoying some of the local wines and craft brews. I’m now in the Finger Lakes NY region, and this place is just crawling with ‘em.

There was one thing that I didn’t expect. Freddie surprised me by bringing his dad’s stash of comics. He wanted to me to evaluate them, see if they were worth anything.

He carted up three tattered old boxes with about 100 comics. Spoiler Alert: there was no Action Comics #1 in the lot. But there sure were a lot of treasures. As near as we can figure, this collection was cobbled together at different times over the years. Some comics his dad collected and some he would’ve snagged from garage sales. The Freddie P Collection is a nutty, mixed-up combination of wildly different comics.

Some of the wacky highlights include:

Walt Disney Comics
There’s a bunch of gorgeous Walt Disney Comics and Donald Duck Comics in this collection. These stories were reprinted several times, and these particular comics are not from the first run. But they are still pretty old. Most are from the late 40s and early 50s. They are joyous to read and some of the features, like the one-pagers on the inside front covers, make you smile from ear-to-ear.

Treasure Chest

I really wasn’t that familiar with this anthology series, but I’m glad there were a bunch in the boxes. Treasure Chest is a “wholesome” comic that was distributed in Catholic schools until 1972. Each issue contains an eclectic mix of stories many with non-traditional themes. One issue sports a fantastic Reed Crandall cover. Another features an Eisenhower biography inked and penciled by Joe Sinnott. It’s gorgeous!

Barbarians at the Gate

This paragraph may be painful for collectors. There’s a copy of Marvel’s Conan the Barbarian #1 and Kull the Conqueror #1. They are both in pretty good shape, except for the fact the corner boxes of each have been clipped out. Was it a kid making a collage, a trademark lawyer, or a young Joe Jusko preparing for a later-in-life painting series? We may never know the truth. Grrr…

Still Watching the Detectives

For some reason, there’s a bunch of late 60s issues of Detective Comics (starring Batman and Robin) but not a single issue of Batman. As you may know, both titles were published concurrently since the early days of the industry. What type of kid would buy only Detective Comics but not Batman comics? Another mystery.

There’s even a copy of Detective Comics #414, one of my favorites, which I had written about here.

What’s that you say, Archie?

There’s a bunch of Archie comics here, but one in particular really grabbed my attention. One adolescent, probably just learning about sex and sexual terms, had vandalized modified the characters’ word balloons so they are each saying obscene things. It’s childish, tasteless and hilarious. It had me snickering and I just had to read the whole thing.

Two’s Company
Those old Marvel “split books” would force two characters to share one comic. There were some real economic reasons for this, but there’s no denying that each issue is jam-packed with a lot of story! Comparing and contrasting these treasures with so many of today’s comics’ decompressed storytelling, one is amazed by how long it takes to read each comic. This collection contains: Tales of Suspense #96 (starring Captain America and Iron Man), Strange Tales #160 (starring Doctor Strange and Nick Fury, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.) and Tales to Astonish #72 (starring Sub-Mariner and The Hulk).

License to Thrill

It’s easy to forget how many licensed comics there were on the racks back on the day. The collection included these comics:

  • Get Smart
  • The Three Stooges
  • The Fantastic Voyages of Sinbad
  • Lassie
  • Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea

and last, but least:

  • Lancelot Link Secret Chimp

War is Heck

There’s just a smattering of war comics here, but what they offer a fantastic across the board representation of the genre Sgt. Rock, Capt. Storm, Sgt. Fury and the Howling Commandos, Air War stories, Combat and Sad Sack. The covers are particularly compelling – I can see why some kid snagged them all those years ago.

Metal Men

I never loved the Metal Men. Not even those issues with the Walt Simonson art. I kind of learned about these quirky robot heroes via reprints and the occasional Brave and the Bold team-up. So for me it wasn’t a big thrill to stumble across an old copy in this collection. But the weird part is that there are two issues of Metal Men #28 here! Seems like a pretty ordinary Metal Men adventure to me. The Metal Men fight bad guys, and get destroyed, and get rebuilt and then something happens with their responsometers and all the while Platinum, the female Metal Man, gets lovey-dovey with Doc Magnus (which still seems creepy to me). How did one kid in 1967 ever end up with two issue of Metal Men #28?

I’m going to take this collection to the Buffalo Comic Con this weekend (I’m a panelist on the Kirby panel) to find some fans who might treasure these comics. Maybe I’ll find some buyers. Who knows? Freddie P didn’t think these were treasures, but I sure do.

•     •     •     •     •

Thanks to Jeff Vaughn his merry band of dedicated and detail-oriented compatriots who publish the Overstreet Comic Book Price Guide. Of course, we all know it’s great for estimating the value of comics. But The Overstreet Guide is indispensable when it comes to understanding the complicated numbering of series like Walt Disney Comics and Treasure Chest. (Full Disclosure: I have contributed articles to the Guide.)

The Law Is A Ass #416: The Metal Men Are In Cogito

René Descartes once said, “cogito ergo sum,” which, for those of us not fluent in dead languages means, “I think, therefore I am.” René’s observation was pithy, but it leaves one question unanswered. I understand that because I think, I am; but what, exactly, am I?

What am I also happens to be the question raised in the Metal Men story in Legends of Tomorrow #4, “Everything Old Is New Again!” Or, more precisely, What are the Metal Men?

Technically speaking, and speaking technically, the Metal Men are androids. They were created by Dr. Will Magnus when he put advanced thinking devices called Responsometers into some vats of molten metal, one Responsometer per vat, and vat’s a lot of metal. The Responsometers caused the metal in the vats to form metallic bodies around themselves. The resulting bodies – one for each of the vats of metal used – had the properties of the metal which formed them. The bodies were also, thanks to the A.I. properties of the Responosmeters, “self-actualizing entities capable of making their own decision and independent thought.”

Magnus made several of these Metal Men – Gold, Iron, Tin, Mercury, Lead, and Platinum– all of whom had artificial intelligence thanks to their Responsometers and incredible metal-based powers. The Metal Man had the potential to be agents of incredible good, so naturally Army General Thelma Scarletti wanted to dismantle the Metal Men and harvest their Responsometers for her own purposes. Because what’s a general in a comic book if not self-interested; obsessed; lacking any morality; and, you know, basically evil? Seriously, is there any high-ranking military officer in a comic book who isn’t an offal sir not a gentleman? I shudder to think how Amos Halftrack would behave if DC were ever to license Beetle Bailey.

Because it was Chapter 4, “Everything Old Is New Again!” opened with a dangling cliffhanger; Dr. Magnus and the Metal Men surrounded by General Scarletti and more solders than you could shake a stick at, provided you ever wanted to shake a stick at some soldiers. Scarletti demanded that Dr. Magnus turn the Metal Men over to her or there would be dire consequences. The Metal Men wanted to fight. Dr. Magnus wouldn’t allow that, as he considered the dire consequences would be death and destruction. His and the Metal Men’s, respectively. Magnus was preparing to surrender the Metal Men to General Scarletti, when Cliff Steele showed up.

Only Cliff didn’t show up as Robotman, former daredevil who had nanomachines injected into himself which created a new robotic body around his still-living brain when his old body died in a car crash and who became a freelance super hero. Instead he showed up as Clifford Steele, attorney-at-law. Not just an attorney, but an attorney who found a sympathetic judge who issued a writ of habeas corpus releasing the Metal Men into Cliff’s custody until a court case could resolve the issue of whether the Metal Men were robots with artificial intelligence or living beings with the full panoply of constitutional rights.

Now this revelation raises a couple of questions. First, when did Cliff become a lawyer. No, seriously, when? I’m not saying that Cliff couldn’t have gone out and secured himself a law degree at some point, I just don’t remember him ever doing it. Was this something he did while he was still an adventurer and daredevil before he got his robot body or something he did to fill those idle hours while he was sitting around waiting for clients to hire Robotman, freelance super hero? Okay, it’s not an important question, but it’s still one I wondered about.

The important question is where did Cliff find a judge who was so sympathetic he or she would willing to grant the Metal Men a habeas writ before the trial which was to decide their legal status? The Fourth Amendment says that “The right of the people [emphasis added] to be secure… against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” So the Fourth Amendment only applies to people. You couldn’t, for example, get a writ of habeas corpus to force the police to return your Mr. Coffee if it had been illegally seized during a warrantless search. The Mr Coffee is a mister in name only; it’s not a person.

For the same reason, until some court had a trial and ruled that the Metal Men were people, who were protected by the Bill of Rights, and not machines, which were not, I don’t think any judge would grant the Metal Men a habeas. By granting the Metal Men a habeas the judge basically settled the ultimate issue of the pending trial. The judge granted a writ intended only for people, so the judge implicitly ruled that the Metal Men were people.

That doesn’t mean there was nothing Cliff could have done. There is a perfectly good writ that can be used to return property that has been illegally seized. It’s called the writ of replevin. Cliff could have filed one of those saying the Metal Men should be returned to Dr. Magnus as his property, until such time as a court could determine whether they were property or people.

Wouldn’t that also mean that the judge issuing the replevin writ is deciding the ultimate issue? After all, wouldn’t he be implicitly ruling that the Metal Men were property by granting a replevin on their behalf?


The Metal Men are androids. They are presently regarded as machines and the law would presume that they are machines until such time as a court ruled them to be people. Thus a judge could grant a replevin because of the Metal Men’s current presumptive status as machines without any ruling, implicit or otherwise, on the ultimate question of the trial; are the Metal Men actually living beings?

So what do you think, are the Metal Men simply robots? Or are they living beings and greater than the ergo sum of their parts?