Justice League: Generation Lost #11

Standard Cover

Quotes

Maxwell Lord: My, look at those levels spike, somebody’s happy and I live to make people happy.

Professor Ivo: They’re not actually people.

Maxwell Lord: And they’re not actually happy. So no need to split hairs.

Synopsis "Heavy Metal Poisoning"

Maxwell Lord, the ex-head of the Justice League and Checkmate, has ostracised his former JLI colleagues and has manipulated them into reforming as a team. They are attempting to prove their innocence and to discover Max’s secret plans. Stolen intel from Checkmate has revealed a series of hidden robotics laboratories created by Max’s agents. The heroes have split into groups to investigate the first two laboratories.

Max has recruited the old-Justice League villain Professor Ivo as his robotics specialist. Under his direction Ivo has plugged the Metal Men into a virtual-reality fantasy-world. Everything they see or hear is filtered through the belief that they are magical warriors fighting to protect a princess’s kingdom. The Metal Men attack Fire, Ice, and Rocket Red after they break into Ivo’s Chinese laboratory. When the heroes attempt to withdrawal Ivo commands the Metal Men to merge into a gestalt behemoth called Alloy.

Meanwhile Captain Atom, Blue Beetle and Booster Gold have discovered another of robotics laboratory hidden beneath Chicago. This one is stuffed with OMAC variants, pure robots that lack the human/machine synthesis of the originals. However, no one has been there for days. Skeets scans for fingerprints and discovers that Ivo, but not Max has been in the lab.

Alloy is considerably stronger than its individual parts. It throws Rocket Red aside and stuns Fire with one punch. Ice is left to fight it alone. Alloy strikes blow after blow against her as she puts up a desperate defence. The stress causes Ice to transform into a blue-skinned, ice-haired ice goddess who easily blasts Alloy to one-side. Fire is shocked by her friend’s transformation and it is clear that something dramatic has changed.

Continuity

  • Captain Atom has trouble telling the exterior temperature in his metal form.
  • Professor Anthony Ivo is working for Maxwell Lord. His appearance has begun to revert to his immortal human form.

Opinion

This was an odd issue. It was fun and engaging, but it didn’t really do much more than set-up a situation whereby Ice is forced to evolve into full blown ice queen/goddess mode. Dan Iverson @ IGN drew a parallel between this issue’s fight and “Power Rangers or Dragon Ball Z” wherein massive character or plot changes are usually introduced mid-brawl or melee.

I’ll probably leave off the ranting about Ice’s new look and origin until next issue’s review, but my usual reaction to these “fix-them-up” changes is that I didn’t think there was anything wrong with the original. Certainly this isn’t the first time that Ice has had her powers upgraded. There was a pretty major plot about new powers and her family in the original JLI series – it’s not one that can be easily ignored as its the one that eventually got her killed.

The Metal Men team, like Plastic Man or Robin, is one of those utterly-comicbook concepts you either love or hate. They just make no sense on any level as a science fiction concept, but they are a gloriously pop-art comicbook concept.  Nevertheless, their appearance does serves to give a little variance to the usual generic goons (OMACS, Rocket Reds, Checkmate) that the JLI have been fighting so far. The World of Warcraft set-up is fun and provides just enough of a twist to stop this fight becoming boring. It also helps that we’re lucky to have this issue graced by Aaron Lopresti who makes the most of the spotlight on Fire and Ice.

There was a long debate on Daily Scans about what exactly caused Ice’s transformation with a lot of people reading a subtext into Fire’s injury and Ice’s response that wasn’t evident to me – at least not with this version of Ice (the other Ice, Sigrid, is bisexual, but Tora has always been shown as straight). To me it looks like it was self-defence.

The Verdict

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TypeSiteReviewerRatingEquivalent
Grand Average 72.8%
Reviews Portal IGN Dan Iverson 6.5/10
Community Reviews Comics Vine User Reviews Av. of 2 reviews 3.5/5
Community Reviews iFanboy 482 Pulls 4.1/5
Character Site Boosterrific! Boosterrific.com 4/5
Reviews Blog Comics Per Day Reviews Timbotron Good
Character Site Captain's Justice League Homepage Jason Kirk 3/5

Annotations

Covers – Cliff Chiang’s first cover sketch was rather more “iconic” than his eventual design (click on the final cover image on his blog to see his sketch), but the editor eventually wanted something more specific to the storyline. (It could be they wanted to avoid duplicating Maguire’s variant cover). Chiang described the process of final image as:

I held off on another sketch until I got the script, which has the Metal Men combined in their “Alloy” gestalt incarnation (ha! nerd term!) from Kingdom Come. You might not be able to see it here since it’s so small, but I’m starting to use a bolder, rougher ink line, and it really helped pull this piece together. It matches the color and texture work I’ve been doing, so look for more of it.

Kevin Maguire’s variant cover shows the Metal Men as a group. Maguire, along with original JLI co-writers Keith Giffen and J.M. DeMatteis, created a recent Metal Men backup feature that appeared in the new series of Doom Patrol.

Page 1-4 – The Metal Men were created by writer Robert Kanigher and penciller Ross Andru for Showcase #37 (March 1962). They are a group of six robots – little more than solid lumps of pure metal – which are fluidly animated by devices called responsometers. These strange devices turn the robots into shape-shifting superheroes with abilities and personalities that somehow mirror their metal’s properties. Their creator in the comics is Will Magnus and he ascribes their “emotions” and near suicidal lack of self preservation to flaws in their design. Even the Metal Men think of themselves as robots and assume that Magnus will eventually rebuild them if they are ever destroyed.

This opening sequence shows the “human” counterparts of the Metal Men fighting in their virtual reality world. The yellow-haired leader is Gold, the woman is obviously ‘Tina (Platinum), the kid is Tin, the strong fat-guy in the hoodie is Lead, the invulnerable black-man is Iron. The effeminate red-head is Mercury. There was a Metal Men mini-series written by Mark Waid in the 1990s in which it was revealed that the Metal Men had once been human. Magnus had accidentally moved their minds into robotic bodies and ended up joining them as another robot. That interpretation seems to have been quietly dropped and they are now back to being pure robots.

The Metal Men and Will Magnus have appeared several times in Justice League comics. There was a famous fight in Justice League Europe #12 (March 1990) between Green Lantern Guy Gardner, Metamorpho and them when Metamorpho’s father-in-law hired Magnus to  keep the JLI away from Metamorpho’s metahuman baby.

Page 4 – Professor Anthony Ivo is an unusual fellow. He is an enemy of the Justice League, but his main preoccupation – at least to start with – was with gaining immortality. He was the creator of Amazo, the robot which absorbed and duplicated the powers of any meta-human it met. His other robots were responsible for killing Vibe and Steel (recently seen as Black Lanterns in The Blackest Night). Ivo was ultimately successful in his endeavours, but a side-effect of his immortality saw him transformed into an ugly, increasingly immobile monstrosity. It was Ice in Justice League Quarterly #5 (1990) who cured him. He was last seen in the epilogue to “The Tornado’s Path” (Justice League of America (vol 2.) #7). Ivo had been working for Solomon Grundy and was on the run from Starro. Strangely he was shown as looking completely human in that appearance, but he seems to have regressed since then — Ivo’s appearance has not been shown consistently as be bounces between normal/ugly with almost every appearance.

Page 5 - We learn a little more Maxwell Lord’s plans (above picture). He needs a sociopathic robot, but he doesn’t allude as to what he wants it for. The description sounds a bit like the C.L.A.S.H. robot from Power Girl that he was responsible for.

Pages 11-13 - Alloy. This robot appeared in the Kingdom Come flash forward shown last issue and it first appeared in Kingdom Come #1. The Metal Men have joined together to form constructs and machines before, but the difference with Alloy is that they lose their individual personalities.

Page 14 - Chicago is where the second Blue Beetle (Ted Kord) based his business empire. The attack on the Jaime (the current and third Blue Beetle) occurred in issue #2-3. As Booster explained the original OMACS were normal people who had been possessed by a nanomachine virus, a very sophisticated technology that is considerably more advanced that the spare-parts approach shown here.

Captain Atom questions the temperature. He had made similar noises about losing parts of his humanity in issue #7 (his time jump). Captain Atom name checks Amazo. He was Ivo’s first and most brilliant creation. Amazo is a robot with the ability to duplicated the superpowers of any metahuman it encounters. Various models have approached this differently, but most come with the default powers of the League’s founders.

Page 18 - When in her flame form Fire is literally living fire, as she says “like a vapor”, with no more physical presence than a normal flame. Thus bullets and simple projectiles can pass through her, but anything that is big enough to disrupt her body’s coherence (e.g. a massive android’s fists) will hurt her .

Page 21 – The pencils of this page (show above) showing Ice in her new form was trailed on Source blog. Editor Brian Cunningham teased:

For those of us that read the Super Friends series in the 1970s where Ice was originally introduced as Ice Maiden, we all know how absurd her origin was. With Gen Lost #12, writer Judd Winick provides Ice with a credible and tragic origin that does not negate what we already know. And the consequences of this new origin are pretty explosive, as Aaron Lopresti’s amazing art shows.

Page 22 – Fire tells us that something is new twice. When facing Alloy she shouts “This is new!” and then Ice changes she tells Gavril that “This is something new.”