Tuesday, October 27, 2015

It's a modernized update of a classic character, of course all the fun's sucked out of it...


Well, that's not entirely true. Partially because Metamorpho was so much fun to begin with. You could suck fun out of him all day and still have some leftover...wow, that went weird, there. From 2007-2008, Metamorpho: Year One, story by Dan Jurgens, art by Jurgens, Mike Norton Jesse Delperdang, and Jose Marzan, Jr.

This version of Rex Mason starts as an adventure-TV star, risking his life for the cameras on a TV show produced by billionaire Simon Stagg. Consistent with his usual portrayals, Stagg is an utter bastard; from nickel-and-diming Mason on his contract, to plotting to have him killed for a DVD special. Of course, Stagg may also hate Mason for dating his daughter Sapphire, as does unfrozen caveman Java. (A bit of lampshade hanging refers to Java being brought back to life by Stagg's genetic engineers, and Stagg's legal department probably insured the big moron's legal status would be indentured servant or pet or something.)

Exploring a pyramid for the Orb of Ra, Mason is knocked out by Java (on Stagg's order) and left to die. Instead, Mason is exposed to the meteorite the Orb was made from, and transformed into Metamorpho, that fabulous freak. (There's a whole backstory about the sun god Ra and how the meteorite is supposed to create soldiers to fight Set Apep, but I don't think we get into that here.) He doesn't feel that fabulous though, even though he's able to use enough of his powers instinctively to get out of the collapsed pyramid, repair a jet, and get back to the states; where Stagg wangs him with the Orb, Metamorpho's Kryptonite.

I'm missing issue #3 right now--another limited series short an issue! But I doubt it really explains why Mason doesn't seem to realize Stagg straight-up tried to murder him. He is somewhat blinded by the chance of a cure: Stagg downplays the possiblity of some hack like Lex Luthor or STAR Labs returning Mason to normal. In issue #4, Stagg fixes Mason up with a realistic rubber mask--just not realistic enough to get through airport security, especially when Stagg tips them off. He doesn't want Sapphire with him (or Java, for that matter) and maneuvers her towards a more suitable guy, industrialist Wally Bannister. I was disappointed that Sapphire seems to fall for it, and Wally is still around by the end of the series: per Wikipedia, the Bannister character was killed off towards the end of the original 60's Metamorpho series, but the plotline was never resolved.

I actually have Justice League of America #42, "Metamorpho Says No!" where the JLA offers Metamorpho a spot on the team and he declines, only wanting to return to normal. The rest of that issue has a silly alien menace, the Unimaginable; but makes more sense than issue #6's updated version, which features most of the League pretending to be Goldface to put him to the test. (They had complete faith in Mason, but none in Stagg.) Metamorpho again refuses JLA membership, but decides to use his powers to help when he can. So, not an awful update, but so not as fun as the original.

1 comment:

Dale Bagwell said...

Again, I don't blame Rex for turning them down on the basis that they were complete dicks to him, as well as that little thing of wanting to be normal.
Any decent writer, like Jurgens here, could really make a Metamorpho book sell well....too bad he;s relegated to being a niche guy:(