Superman is one of the lamest superheroes around - at least, if you judge him by that old maxim that a hero is measured by the caliber of his enemies. More than 70 years of publication, and the only guy who's really ever given him more than a moment's inconvenience is a fat, bald guy with a grumpy streak? That means Ned Flanders is exactly as much of a superhero as the Last Son of Krypton.
But really, there are others who pose at least somewhat of a threat to Supes. While most of them are forgetable foes, like the Silver Banshee or Conduit, some rise above the rest before getting a Kryptonian-flavored beatdown.
John Corben was a small-time con man who was fatally injured in a car crash, but to his luck Professor Emmet Vale happened to pass by. Professor Vale was a pioneer in robotics, and erroneously believed that Superman was the first in a wave of superpowered Kryptonian invaders. Vale transplanted Corben's brain into a robotic body, which was powered by a two-pound chunk of kryptonite, and instructed him to kill Superman. Metallo - the alloy his body was made of, and now Corben's new moniker - thanked Vale by snapping his neck, killing him.
Most of the time, Corben's new body is covered by a Terminator-like rubber skin that lets him pass as human, but it usually ends up getting shredded in battle. He's also had an upgrade that allows him to merge with any technological or metallic item he wants, giving him the potential to be a pretty major threat.
In the first arc of the new World's Finest book (renamed Superman/Batman because "World's Finest" doesn't mean anything to anyone anymore), Metallo turns up in Gotham City, looking for, of all things, his old human body. Long-dead by now, it would be fairly useless, but he misses it nonetheless. A nostalgic robot.
Thanks to his place in that story, DC Direct has given us what is only the third Metallo figure, the first in a 6" scale and in wide distribution.
To best facilitate his corpse-desecrating, Metallo has grafted a backhoe's shovel onto his right shoulder. It's already been a rough night for Corben, so his human shell is pretty tattered - not only are his pants torn, but his legs are, as well. The entire right side of his torso is simply a skeletal frame, with just scraps of false skin still clinging to it.
You get to decide what face you want Metallo to display, human or mechanical. The human face seems inspired by Corben's appearance in the animated series, which could just be an effect of Ed McGuinness's cartoony style more than any intentional choice. I don't know if his human form has ever been shown in the comics before.
Slip the mask off and you can display the metallic skull, with a small green light glowing in its right eye. Why just one eye? Because that's the way MC2 drew it.
Detail is great all over, but it's the metal bits that really stand out. Where his legs are torn, you can see the pistons and supports inside. The tiny segments of his fingers are all clear, and his banded "muscles" look nice. The steam shovel even looks like it really has a rack and pinion system built into it.
You can pull Metallo's ribcage out to reveal his kryptonite heart, which can also be removed, finally giving us a chunk of the glowing green rock we can use on any of our Supermen. The interior of the figure is just as detailed as the rest, with wires, controls, support structures and so forth.
Articulation is the DC Direct standard: knees, hips, shoulders, elbows and a balljointed neck. Of course, the shovel's "elbow"
is actually a two-part joint and since the bucket moves you could probably say he has a wrist, but it doesn't really count. It probably would have been too expensive to make the shovel move any more than it already does, but that fact that it's sculpted to look like it has gears just seems silly - why take the time to design something that looks like a joint when you could just make a joint? At least this time the fact that he doesn't have a waist makes some sense - part of his waist has been torn away, leaving him partially human, partially robotic.
Because of that giant arm and his very specific pose, Metallo can't stand very well on his own. It would probably work, if you could get the tip of the shovel down to the ground to turn him into a tripod, but as it is, you'll definitely need the inclosed logo base.
DC Direct has been having a lot of probelms with their paint apps lately, but Metallo seems fine. There's a spot on his back that looks like it was supposed to be red muscle instead of grey metal, but that doesn't detract from the figure. There was a large glop of excess glue where the debris guard met the body, but it was easy enough to remove. Since he's been rifling through the graveyards all night, Metallo has a speckling of brown paint below his knees to make him look muddy.
Metallo is one of the few characters other than Lex Luthor who could actually pose a threat to Superman, and we've never had a figure of him that looked this good. No matter if you plan to get the "Public Enemies" Superman, this figure will still be a good addition to your collection.
Why does McGuinness sign his stuff "MC2," anyway? Tell us on our message board, The Loafing Lounge.