DC Comics (1963-67)
Unlike most of the comics we host, this series is from a major publisher, DC Comics. The characters first appeared in Showcase #37 (March–April 1962) and were created by writer Robert Kanigher and artist Ross Andru.
The Metal Men were created by Doctor Will Magnus, a young, successful, and inventive genius. By the time of the Metal Men’s creation, Magnus had already amassed a personal fortune through patent royalties – much of which he invested in his research. The result of one of his projects was a robot made of platinum, female in form, whom Magnus nicknamed Tina.
Unlike conventional robots limited to certain programmed tasks, Tina was powered by a responsometer, a nuclear powered microscopic activator. Not only did this device animate her body, but it endowed the robot with distinct and decidedly human intelligence and personality. It was due to the latter trait that Magnus decided to put Tina in the Science Museum; his activator was too perfect and Tina, to his mind, too much of an annoyance.
Before Doc Magnus could attend that chore, he was alerted to the menace of a monstrous prehistoric winged creation recently released from its glacial resting place. To combat this radioactive menace, Magnus created an entire team of responsometer- powered robots, each forged from a different metal, each with its own unique strengths. These robots he dubbed his Metal Men.Established as advanced artificially intelligent robots, the Metal Men were introduced in the comic book Showcase #37 (March–April 1962) as “last minute” filler.
Until #21, the Metal Men appeared to be the sole super-heroes in a separate fictional universe, with no other DC Comics characters appearing (though the Metal Men watch a Batman television series, and Dr. Yes is recognized by them as resembling an enemy of Wonder Woman–Magnus and the Metal Men even seem to know at times that they are comic book characters, referring to earlier issues and reader response). Then the Metal Men became part of the shared universe of the DC heroes, even though they continued to fight their own foes (such as Chemo).
With sales dropping, the series’ tone darkened with issue #33 (September 1968), as the cover tagline changed to “The New Hunted Metal Men”. Shortly after, the team adopted human identities in issue #37 (May 1969). The title was cancelled in mid-story with issue #41 (December 1969).
Issues #42, 43 and 44 (March, May, and July 1973) reprinted earlier Showcase appearances and the first issue, with the title then on hiatus until returning with original numbering in issue #45 (May 1976). The bi-monthly publishing schedule continued until issue #56 (March 1978), when the title and many others were cancelled during the DC Implosion.
Metal Men, besides being alone in their own universe for most of the series, were a quirky and unique series, covering subjects like what makes a being human and other issues facing humanity, besides giant robot monsters. I had a couple of these issues as a kid so they are somewhat dear to my heart, one reason I picked them to include, all 56 issues. (not including the ’90s and ’00s revivals, which had a completely different tone, drawing style and personalities).