DC: robot n°1 review | Batman News

Gargantuan adventures now await the DC Universe in the first issue of DC: Mechanical #1. The new story rests on the shoulders of its predecessors like Superman/Batman: Public Enemies, Batman Unlimited: Mechs Vs. Monsters, Fleisher’s mechanical monsters, and more. The anime-inspired series is set in the mechanized alternate universe of Kenny Porter and Baldemar Rivas. For my part, I welcome our new robot lords with open arms! However, what’s more important is to keep an open mind to the character changes we think we’re experiencing.

The first issue follows a startling take on the Justice Society of America at the end of World War II. Porter uses traumatic loss as a flashpoint between the age of superheroes and a new era focused on mecha. World-building relies on the effects of the devastation of space invaders. It’s clever because the introduction of Kaiju and giant robot fiction to Japan comes from real-life 1940s fears of nuclear power. It’s kind of strange how, in a world where magic and metahumans exist, they came to the conclusion that only robots could save us.

This issue also partly tells the story of Superman. In this world, Kal-El is the only hope for Krypton and New Genesis. Kal-El’s costume is designed with an idyllic savior in mind, while mechs on Earth were established as deterrents. The mech is very clearly inspired by the Maschinemensch from the 1927 cult classic movie Metropolis. It parallels the Übermensch to which Superman is so often referred to in metal form.. Plus, the costume evokes an unintended homage to Frank Miller. Big Guy and Rusty at the arrival.

In action, DC: Mechanical follows a Power Rangers/Super Sentai sort of a format, where the city is somehow attacked and heroes with mechanized power suits arrive to subdue or destroy the opposition. Batman even emerges from a Batcave in space; though unclear as to the origins of his gimmick in this universe. In this issue, we find huge monster battles, themed villains, and superheroes summoning all their might to defend the land. It’s big and explosive, but it doesn’t feel like Rivas has exemplified effective action frames. It’s all terrain without liquidation.

The mech designs are obviously the main event. The Flash is designed with a slim aerodynamic shape like the robots of Immortal Grand Prix (IGPX) Where evangelization. Batman’s costume comes complete with a cape and ninja tools, though he doesn’t give any believable reason for a stealth theme. Impracticality aside, it absolutely evokes the vibes of anime mech designs from Gundam Where Code Geass. Most other bots seem ripped off Mazinger-Z with their toy-like geometric shapes.

I love the classic Justice Society designs against the mostly CMYK bubblegum settings. Rivas often uses speedlines as a shorthand for backgrounds, giving it an anime feel and momentum. The first steampunk tone reminds me Sky Captain and The World of Tomorrow (2004), and leads to a future closer to evangelization or the Pacific Rim series. If I’m being nitpicky, I’d say the designs of all the characters and villains today all look underwhelming in their costumes. This includes the unflattering designs of Orion, Darkseid, Granny Goodness, and the Parademons. Speaking of bad guys, I’m not buying that a group of metahumans would pilot an experimental robot to steal technology.

Recommended if…

  • You are a mecha-based anime or sci-fi fan.
  • You always wanted to see the Justice Society fight Kaiju.
  • A good robot fight and space battle is all you need.

Globally

The first issue is a seemingly solid introduction to this six-part miniseries. I can feel the love for the mech genre in the anime-style illustrations and writing. The biggest hurdle of this issue is using two separate flashbacks before starting the current conflict. Even then, the world-building seems to justify the robot-ruled society. Porter readily admits to being a fan of Gundam, and mentioned on the Paneloids podcast, that DC tuners will explore a xenophobic angle. The first issue doesn’t quite get to this story, but I can see the set-up. All that’s missing now is an ass rock theme song.

Rating: 7/10


DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.


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