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So Reggie and I are back at it again, trying to bring you the best review we can from this massive book, containing stories from Firestorm, Metamorpho, Metal Man and Sugar and Spike. That's a shit ton of stories right there and if you're into at least three of them........... well, you're making out pretty damn good on the price point. I personally dug the last issue even though I'm not a fan of Sugar and Spike and I would have loved if we had a little bit more background on the characters to Metamorpho......... They just come out of nowhere and throw a story in your face and Sapphire Stagg's motivations were a little willy nilly. It wasn't bad though and I'm excited to continue where we left off last month. Let's jump into this issue and see if we get any backstory about how there's a Element Woman hanging out with the Doom Patrol before Rex Mason ever went and got Metamorpho-ed. Let's check it out.
Firestorm in United We Fall Part 2
Written By: Gerry Conway
Art By: Eduardo Pansica, Rob Hunter, Andrew Dalhouse, Corey Breen
In the previous issue we ended the story with Firestorm about to explode and we find out here it's because Ronnie and Jason's quantum waves aren't in sync like they're supposed to be to fuse into Firestorm. It's kind of funny because Professor Stein is going on and on with all his Rocket Surgeon mumbo jumbo and right when I was getting angry about it, Jason and Ronnie both told his ass to speak English and it always feels good to know that your superhero has your back. Since Jason passed out during an important interview for an internship last issue, Stein believes that it's Jason's personal quantum waves that are messing up the fusion process and asks the two boys not to become Firestorm until he figures this out........... because of the whole they might explode thing. I don't know if Stein is right though because Gerry Conway keeps throwing this rival student at us, who before every interview that Jason takes, gives him a soda and he then collapses....... this time with a foamy mouth so you know it's serious. Because Stein believes that the Firestorm Matrix is the reason that Jason is ill, he devises a way to permanently take it away from Jason and transfer it into himself. That's right, now Firestorm consists of Ronnie Raymond and Martin Stein, but this new combination might be at the worst time possible because Multiplex is out and about stealing government cold fusion prototypes and kidnapping experts in the field and the military believes that he might be working with his old partner Martin Stein. Yeah, the military is getting good exercise jumping to conclusions, but it looks like our hero is going to be getting a work out of his own next issue because Major Force has been sent out to bring in Martin Stein and take Firestorm down.
For as much as I really enjoyed the first issue to this story, for how well it included the day to day lives of our teenage heroes........... because that's just something that I really enjoy when reading about young heroes. I have to say that this issue's dealings with it felt kind of disjointed and it might be do to the fact that they're dealing with such serious shit as Firestorm. After such a life and death situation that we started with, we see our heroes arguing about who's going to fuck their friend first, actually in front of her and all that talk is squashed when she tells us that she's gay. It just felt odd and having this, plus the Firestorm stuff, Multiplex and the military just might be a little too much for this comic to handle. Don't get me wrong though, it's still enjoyable enough even with the oddness of certain scenes and I'm sure any Firestorm fan could get behind it, it's just not as fun as the first issue.
Metamorpho in Two Worlds, One Destiny Part 2: Escape Plan
Written By: Aaron Lopresti
Art By: Aaron Lopresti, Matt Banning, Chris Sotomayor, Michael Heisler
Since Simon Stagg's apish lackey Java caught what he thought was Stagg's daughter Sapphire making goo-goo eyes at Rex "Metamorpho" Mason, he's got only one recourse: smash the shit out of everything! In doing so, he frees Metamorpho from his gigantic jar (a "Mason" jar, perhaps) and Metamorpho takes a little bit of his frustration out on Java. Turns out crashing through a wall sets off the Stagg Laboratory alarm, so Rex and Sapphire cheese it to safety. Sapphire plays a kind of Martin Stein to Metamorpho, informing him of the swell elements he can now create from his weird-looking body. While they take off, Simon Stagg is visited by Kanjar Ro, who wants Stagg to commit to a bargain they'd made off-panel and give him some kind of power source. Stagg says no, so we cut back to Rex and Sapphire flying to Egypt for some answers. Rex tells her his secret origin, which is essentially that Stagg used him to find the Orb of Ra, but upon doing so tried to kill him with a really complex chemical. That, combined with the Orb's energies, turned him into Metamorpho, but proximity to the Orb also dampens his powers so Simon threw 'em both in a glass room. While they fly, Kanjar Ro tracks them and implies that Rex, not the Orb, is the actual power source!
Rex and Sapphire make it to the Pyramid of Ahk-Ton (neé Lost) where Mason finds an altar surrounded by orbs in holes and one hole without an orb. He doesn't want the hole to be lonely, so he sticks the Orb of Ra in there, which isn't dampening his power because it's in sleep mode I guess, and then he and Sapphire are zapped across space to a world where it looks like Native Americans are fighting blue knights! This was a decent story, nothing to complain about and a lot to congratulate in terms of art and color. The pacing is good, but there is a lot of chit-chat and not a whole lot of Rex turning into a cobalt wrecking ball or something. Though all the information needed is given within the narrative, I don't know that someone who doesn't already like Metamorpho would like this book. But if you're a fan of this elemental shape-shifter, then I bet you'll enjoy how the story is unfolding thus far.
Sugar & Spike in The Island
Written By: Keith Giffen
Art By: Bisques Evely, Ivan Plascencia, Tom Napolitano
Early in his Supermanning career, Clark built an island in the shape of himself and stashed some Kryptonite there, so he'd always be able to find it if necessary: it's on the island that looks like Superman. Now some developers want to build a resort there, so he's tasked Sugar & Spike with retrieving the Kryptonite from the island, in case someone finds it and then wants to build their own island in their image to secure the green rocks. Why Superman doesn't just tell the developer to buzz off is a mystery; the fucking island looks like Superman, so it's not like there would be much of a dispute. And who would want the bad publicity of litigating against the Man of Steel? "He wouldn't let us build a playground for rich assholes!" Sugar & Spike make it on to the island and find the entire construction team being held at gunpoint by a crazy robot toy lady who has a bunch of toy minions with weapons roaming around--is this the new Toyman...I mean Toyperson? I thought it was that dude Hiro Okamura? Apparently the only intelligent person in this comic, the robot lady is looking for whatever's been hidden on this island by Superman, but the construction crew doesn't know anything about it. Using Spike as a distraction, Sugar shoots the gun out of robot lady's hand and then kicks her head clean off.
Far away from the construction site, Sugar smashes the robot lady's head against a tree because it won't stop talking. The duo make it to Superman's super-secret Kryptonite room, and there's only about a shoebox full of it. They retrieve it and leave, but all the while they are being watched remotely, through the distended eye of the robot lady's head, by some other human lady who made these robot toys! I think! Here's another plodding story that seems to have a lot of filler material, and not much of it is very funny. I really want to know what happened in Sugar's life that hurt her so badly, she is just a stone cold ice queen now. Of special note, and propping up the score for this segment quite nicely, was the art by Bisques Evely. It is really clean and expressive without being overly simplistic. I have a feeling I won't be too sad to see this series conclude, but I will be keeping an eye out for Bisques in the future.
The Metal Men In Wanted: Dead Or Decommissioned
Written By: Len Wein
Art By: Yildiray Cinar, Trevor Scott, Dean White, Steve Wands
Since we discovered in the previous issue that the Metal Men are to be decommissioned because of constant attacks from a hacker, who wants the Metal Men for himself, we see the primary focus of this issue being Dr. Magnus covertly getting the Metal Men the hell out of dodge and it's pretty fun. The biggest problem with this first section of the book though is the supporting characters. We have Dr. Lace and General Scaletti, who really seem to flip flop around whether they actually like Dr. Magnus because it's never quite clear at times. They go back and forth between talking nicely about the good doctor to tearing him down behind his back. It's very odd, but these characters aren't the draw of the book, the Metal Men are and as much as I love them, we get some serious cameo action going on here in that Dr. Magnus takes his creations to a secret location to keep them safe and that location happens to be the mountain home of Cliff Steele, also known as Robot Man......... and who doesn't love themselves some Robot Man? If that wasn't enough to keep you happy in this light on action story, we also have it end on a cliffhanger, which is sure to stimulate your automaton turn ons because since the hacker called.......... Nameless can't get the Metal Men, he continues his attacks and hacks his way into Dr. T.O. Morrow's project Cyclone and we end this story with Red Tornado terrorizing a low rent Six Flags.
Even though I was a fan of the first issue and personally really enjoy the Metal Men, this story is a little underwhelming in that nothing really goes down with the exception of cool ass cameos being thrown at us........... and it kind of works. I'm a sucker for both Robot Man and Red Tornado and having them both in a Metal Men story is pretty fun and it kind of places this story a little higher in my mind even with not a lot going down. The art was fantastic and we're getting the best robot like characters in the DC Universe being thrown at us and I appreciate it. The biggest thing that his issue does though besides for getting the fanboy inside of me to "Squeee" is get me excited for what's going to happen in the next issue.
Bits and Pieces:
While the stories that comprise this book are still enjoyable enough, this issue just couldn't hold our attention as well as the first issue and that's bound to happen, but if you're a fan of the majority of the characters in this book that shouldn't deter you from picking this up because really, you won't find these characters anywhere else. Like last month we're doing our score based on an average from these four stories.
Firestorm - 6.5/10 Metamorpho - 7.5/10 Sugar and Spike - 6.5/10 The Metal Men - 6/10