As much as Forever Evil is devoted to highlighting the many compelling villains that inhabit the DC Universe, it's also worked as a pretty nifty method for introducing or reintroducing various DC heroes as well. It’s a real blessing to have Geoff Johns at the helm of DC’s first crossover event of the New 52 for a variety of reasons, but not the least of which is his respect for the past. With the first full arrival of the Metal Men in this issue, we come to see what’s so delightful about their Silver Age origin, even if their circumstances are slightly modernized for today’s narrative. In Justice League #28, we see the full debut of the New 52 Metal Men.
Their story was a bit familiar with science fiction tropes we’ve seen, but it’s a well-structured back history with emotion, especially with how they interact with Dr. Magus. There's really nothing grounded or realistic about the concept of a scientist building devices that bring metal to life and give it personality traits based on its atomic properties. So there's really nothing that has fundamentally changed about these characters.
More endearing than the individual personalities of the Metal Men is the shift in Doctor Magnus from his previous, weirdly paternal nature, to a younger, more caring genius who set out to do good in the world. To know they are loved and honored in a way that never felt so personal in the past makes for a more sympathetic lead, and one who could actually hold his own amid such crazy robots. Johns effectively showcases Magnus' emotional detachment and motivations. And though there's only room for a handful of scenes with each Metal Man, readers quickly get a sense for each hero's personality, abilities, and place in the larger group dynamic.
Ivan Reis remains on board the series, though only as a layout artist this month. Frequent Reis collaborator Joe Prado and stalwart inker Scott Hanna both contribute finishes to those layouts. Because Prado and Reis work together so well, it's often difficult to tell the difference between this and a true Reis-penciled issue. The big splash page is as bold and detailed as anything Reis has delivered during this Forever Evil storyline. And though Hanna's scenes stand out a little more, he's still able to adjust his normally thin, precise inking to better match the lush texture of Prado. In either case, there's not the dip in quality one would usually expect from this artistic arrangement.
This issue didn't do much to advance the overall Forever Evil conflict, but the strong character work more than makes up for that. Because so much of it occurs as a flashback, there's very little progression in terms of Cyborg's journey or the series' ties to Forever Evil.
Justice League #28 is a great issue, giving us a new origin for the Metal Men. The writing is fantastic, the characters are enjoyable, and the artwork is a treat as always. Even if you are not following Forever Evil, this may be a fun issue to get regardless if you’re a fan of these characters and want to see what they’re up to.