What Justice League #28 offers
The DC universe is currently under attack by villains calling themselves the Crime Syndicate, and Cyborg needs help to stop one of these villains in particular: “The Grid”. The Grid happens to be malicious, artificial intelligence that hacked its way into Cyborgs’ cybernetic body, stole it, and left him for dead. Cyborg was rescued by Batman, and received a new body.
It’s an interesting little saga. I think Cyborg’s clear desire to take down the AI that stole his body and almost killed him off makes for strong motivation.
Nested inside Justice League #28, however, is a story about a scientist, and his shiny, new creations: The Metal Men.
Who are the Metal Men? A team of androids built largely out of specific metal parts such as Gold, Platinum, Tin, and Mercury. They can shape shift, and are know for their over-the-top personalities.
What Justice league #28 offers:
- Strong Artificial Intelligence themes
- A narrative that values selflessness
- Flowing, detailed, and moving artwork
- suitable for college or high school classes handling science fiction themes – some edutainment, as the properties of metals are described.
- A collected edition of Justice League comics, including issues following #28, will provide a complete story arc.
Flowing and highly detailed visuals compliment this science fiction story. Shining metal surfaces and bright colours define this comic book’s art.
The flowing detail of the artwork in this comic book is ideal for telling a science fiction, Artificial Intelligence story. In the same way that this art style worked for the fluid, water settings seen in Aquaman comic books, the shapes shifting metal depicted in this comic book benefits similarly.
There is a marked transition in light between the stories. The present day settings, where Cyborg talks about The Grid, are darker than the flashback scenes, where the Metal Men are introduced.
Extra-large pages are spectacular. The heroes save a crowded street from the clutches of a giant villain.
The Metal Men, and one Metal Woman, show off over-the-top personalities and selflessness, while Doctor Magnus becomes a bigger person
Undoubtedly, the stars of this comic book are the Metal men. Doctor Will Magnus, their creator, moves through some significant character development, however. Cold and unfeeling at the beginning, Magnus learns through his brief experience with the Metal Men that not all people are bad, or out to use what they can from you, and move on. Magnus has experienced several betrayals like these in his life.
Magnus plays the cynic well. His interest in robotics stems from a strong dislike of humans – a bit cliche, but to his credit, Will Magnus accepts change in his life, and handles complex emotion. He deals with grief, frustration, anger, and hope for the future all at once. He becomes a bigger person because of his experiences. A great character.
The Metal Mean themselves – one of whom is not a man, which calls the title into question – are bombastic, and have over-the-top personalities. Platinum – the only woman – stands out. Platinum is optimistic, and speaks with a rational voice compared to the bitter and tetchy Mercury, and the suave but obnoxious Gold.
Quickly, the Metal Men transition from robot designed for rescue missions into Artificial Intelligence. They are finally acknowledged as people.
Strong artificial intelligence themes appear, And value is placed on selflessness.
It is the Metal Men’s concern for others – their selflessness – that defines them as unique and human according to Doctor Magnus. Following their sacrifice, Magnus laments them as failures. Cyborg, however, states their “hearts and minds are still here[inside CPU core’s Magnus salvaged]”.
What this says about Artificial Intelligence is that developing self awareness, and then selflessness, is what allows androids to transition into humans. It’s a strong science fiction story, and shows great Artificial Intelligence themes.
There is an interesting parallel between characters. Just as The Metal Men were called to be selfless, to sacrifice their brief lives to safeguard the people in danger, Will Magnus himself is also called. His sacrifice differs slightly. He is asked to risk losing his newly founded friends in a battle with The Grid.
Considering the loss and betrayal Magnus experienced from his parents, The Doctor’s decision is a huge step forward.
Popular Culture References: The Matrix, The Terminator, HAL 9000 from 2001: A Space Odyssey.
The interacctions between Platinum and Doctor Magnus resemble scenes from the Doctor Who Season 6 Episode The Doctor’s Wife.
Justice League #28 is published by DC Comics ($3.99 USD). Geoff Johns (W.) Ivan Reis (Layouts) Joe Prado and Scott Hanna (Finishes) Rod Reis (C.) Dezi Sienty (L.) Cover artwork by Ivan Reis, Joe Prado, and Rod Reis.