Back Issue #72 May 2014 (magazine review).

Another issue I picked up last year was the 72nd issue of ‘Back Issue’. I mean how can you resist a look at comicbook robots although this is also extended to androids and cyborgs, too. Editor Mike Eury points out a list of the ones missed out appearing in earlier ‘Back Issues’ and so are collected here. Mind you, it did make me ponder on any other robots that have been missed but more of that later.

As the cover shows, the most prominent are DC Comics’ robot team and comicbook, ‘Metal Men’. I only really got into them towards the end of their original run back in the late 60s, so was interested in reading some more info about them from that period as I was more familiar with their 70s and 80s revivals. I’m glad they featured the Walt Simonson pin-up from where I first saw it, the ‘Amazing World Of DC Comics’ which shows their size comparison, unlike the cover of this issue.

You do have to wonder why no one has ever looked at Gold or Platinum Tina for the material worth as they must surely be the most expensive robots ever. There’s also a brief look at ‘Whatever Happened To What’sername?’ and the fate of Tin’s girl-friend ‘Nameless’ by interviewing the story’s writer, Charlie Boatner. I remember reading it at the time and still can’t remember her fate.

Reading the biographies of Marvel’s Vision and Jocasta and DC’s Red Tornado, you can’t help but feel sorry for these synthezoids and robots. They save mankind and end up being treated as second-hand citizen and no regard when they are destroyed or dismantled and sometimes put together missing some of their working parts. Even the mutants get better regard than that. One, like Mister Atom, one of the Shazam! Captain Marvel’s villains, is however always a threat.

I know Cliff Steele is 90% robot but it also seems odd that both he and the Titans’ Cyborg are included here as both are cyborgs. This is where I had to sit back and think a minute as to what other robots that hadn’t been covered before. What about Bolivar Trask’s creations, the Sentinels?

Granted that that outside of the Master Mold, they haven’t really had an iconic leader but they surely must be the most dangerous creation ever that keeps popping up. The same applies to AIM’s creations, including the Super-Adaptoid. There’s still other cyborgs like Ruby Tuesday/Thursday from the Headmen and Arnim Zola. Over at DC, the Manhunters spring to mind. Hmmm…maybe not so many left after all. Maybe we do need more robots in the comic-book universes.

The examination of Cliff Steele aka Robotman from the Doom Patrol does show that have brain, all he needs is a new body and writer Douglas R. Kelly goes through his various incarnations although you do have to wonder on his fondness for the form Niles Calder first gave him. There’s also a look at both Doom Patrols. I’m not sure if I’d regard the original Doom Patrol as being the closest to the Marvel vibe cos I think the LSH is closer but considering Arnold Drake wrote for both companies something must have rubbed off.

A look at Marvel’s ‘Shogun Warriors’ as mostly written by Doug Moench and illustrated by Herb Trimpe, which gives some insight into their creative chemistry and also providing the toys to their kids at the time. Although my memories on the comic aren’t so sharp, I do remember reading it at the time.

A flip back to DC Comics and to Victor Stone aka Cyborg. You do have to wonder if he would have kept a name where he was always been reminded of his transformation. Marv Wolfman points out that he saw the Titans as DC’s answer to the Fantastic Four rather than the X-Men, although you would have to wonder why there was never an inter-company team-up with them instead.

Although Brainiac gets a brief mention, there is more of a focus on the Colu organics in Brainiacs 2 and 5. Keith Giffin makes a good point that the Brainiac robot is more a match for Superman than Luthor, although I do have to ponder on that. Luthor never saw himself as a physical equal to Superman just his mental superior. There’s also a useful point that Brainiac 2 was as nasty as his robot foster-father.

Finally, there is a look at ‘Big Guy And Rusty The Robot Boy’, whom I have to confess I knew next to nothing about. Very much in the manga-style although written by Frank Miller and drawn by Geof Darrow although didn’t last long.

If you need some gaps filled in your comic-book knowledge of robots and cyborgs then this is the issue to pick up and will help you decide which issues you need to pick up. As always, there is loads of art and I’ve only hitting some of the highlights above.

GF Willmetts

February 2019

(pub: TwoMorrows Publishing, 2014. 82 page illustrated magazine. Price: $ 8.95 (US). ISSN: 1932-6904. Direct from them, you can get it for $ 7.61 (US))

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