REVIEW: DC UNIVERSE SIGNATURE SERIES METRON
Among the popular specific groups in the DC Universe to receive a generous amount of attention in Mattel's DC Universe Classics series of action figures were the so-called New Gods, one of Jack Kirby's most popular creations, certainly one of his most dynamic ones outside of his extensive work for Marvel Comics over the decades.
Right out of the gate, one of the most popular characters of the New Gods, Orion, was offered in Wave 1 of DC Universe Classics. Subsequent to this, a slightly reworked version of Orion, with a removable helmet, was offered in a two-pack with Lightray. Along the way, other characters, including Mister Miracle, Big Barda, Steppenwolf, Forager, Parademon, DeSaad, Mantis, and others became action figures. There were even Collect-and-Connect figures of Kalibak and, of course, the big guy himself, Darkseid!
But it did seem as though someone was missing, someone rather prominent. And with the DC Universe Classics line having concluded its retail run, doubtless many fans despaired of ever seeing this character made.
But take heart! For this individual was voted the most popular selection as the first, well, let's say "Special Edition" figure for Mattel's online DC Universe line, the DC Universe Signature Series, offered on MattyCollector.Com. Furthermore, he was offered as a special figure to those who signed up for Club Infinite Earths, the subscription program for the Signature Series.
The man's name is -- METRON!
Let's consider some of the history of the New Gods within the DC Universe, and of Metron in particular.
The New Gods are a race of beings appearing in publications by DC Comics, as well as four series of comic books about those characters. They first appeared in New Gods #1 (February 1971), and were created and designed by Jack Kirby.
The New Gods are natives of the twin planets of New Genesis and Apokolips. New Genesis is an idyllic planet filled with unspoiled forests, mountains, and rivers and is ruled by the benevolent Highfather, while Apokolips is a nightmarish, ruined dystopia filled with machinery and fire pits and is ruled by the tyrant Darkseid. The two planets were once part of the same world, a planet called Urgrund, but it was split apart millennia ago after the death of the Old Gods during Ragnarök.
The characters associated with the New Gods are often collectively referred to as "Jack Kirby's Fourth World". The New Gods first appeared in New Gods #1 and Mister Miracle #1 (both titles were published concurrently). Various New Gods, notably Darkseid, went on to interact with other denizens of the DC Universe.
The opening sequence of New Gods #1 references the "Old Gods" and the "New Gods" (e.g., "There came a time when the Old Gods died..."). In a "Young Gods of Supertown" back-up story in Forever People #5, the explorer Lonar retrieves a helmet from the rubble of what represents the last battle of the Old Gods. The helmet closely resembles that worn by the Marvel Comics character Thor, a character whom Kirby drew for several years.
Beginning with the first issue, Jack Kirby established the groundwork for all future New Gods (and related) series. New Gods #1 would mark the first appearance of Orion, Highfather, and Metron, among others; and further issues into the series would mark the first appearance of many other Fourth World characters, as well as explaining key concepts about the New Gods. Of note was issue #7, "The Pact", which sought to explain the backstory of the New Gods. Eleven issues were published before cancellation by the publisher.
In 1977, DC revived the New Gods series, under the title Return of the New Gods in 1977. The first new story was in the last issue of DC's 1st Issue Special #13, shortly followed by a relaunch. Despite the new title, the series retained its original numbering, running from #12-19. Gerry Conway would write the series, with Don Newton providing the pencils.
Due to the abrupt cancelling of the revived series, DC Comics decided to try to bring the series to an end with a special two part storyline in the pages of the Adventure Comics anthology series. Adventure Comics #459-460 (1978) featured a climactic battle between Darkseid's forces and the New Gods, culminating in Darkseid's defeat and apparent "death."
This would quickly be overturned in the New Gods' next appearance in Justice League of America #183-185. The three part storyline would tell of Darkseid's return to Apokolips and his scheme to destroy Earth-Two and teleport Apokolips into its place, so that he could conquer a new universe devoid of the New Gods. The plan would be foiled, however, by the combined power of the New Gods, the Justice League, and the Justice Society.
The third series was written by longtime Kirby understudy Mark Evanier, with co-author and penciller Paris Cullins, this would be the most lengthy New Gods run yet. Coming in at 28 issues, this volume was published from February 1989 to August 1991.
Originally written by Tom Peyer and Rachel Pollack, and pencilled by Luke Ross, volume four of New Gods ran from October 1995 until February 1997. Eventually taken over by John Byrne (for issues #12-15) at the tail end of the series, this title would be renamed as Jack Kirby's Fourth World, also by John Byrne, with numbering reset to issue #1, and covers provided by Walt Simonson. Walt Simonson's Orion series, which continued to host the backup feature "Tales of the New Gods", began in Byrne's Jack Kirby's Fourth World and served as an extension of it.
Despite having trouble maintaining their own title over the years, the characters remained very popular and well-regarded with the fan base. Which really makes one wonder what certain people were thinking some years later...
Taking place in both the yearlong series Countdown to Final Crisis (2007–2008) and its spin-off, Death of the New Gods, written by Jim Starlin, was a story-arc involving the mysterious deaths of the New Gods across the universe in preparation for the coming storylines in Grant Morrison's Final Crisis, published later in 2008.
As elaborated in Death of the New Gods, the mysterious Godkiller turned out to be an agent of the sentient Source itself, which sought to destroy the imperfect Fourth World — compromised by the disruption in its creation by the Old Gods — in favor of a more perfect "Fifth World" by reuniting the Source with the Anti-Life Equation.
The Source's initial attempts to recreate the Fifth World had been hampered by the Crisis on Infinite Earths which unified the Multiverse and forged an impenetrable Source Wall around the Anti-Life Equation. However, subtly manipulating characters like Alexander Luthor, Jr., and Booster Gold to recreate the Multiverse made the Source Wall less impenetrable. The Source's agent is revealed to be the New God Infinity-Man.
Darkseid acquires the powers of the Anti-Life Equation and capitalizes on the deaths of the New Gods by using the human Jimmy Olsen as a "soul-catcher" for the Gods, from which he can claim all their powers and recreate the universe in his own image, but he is killed when the Source is able to send Darkseid's resurrected son, Orion, to rip out his heart. Orion leaves the scene of the fray to die of his own wounds; and, seemingly with success, the Source entity manages to reunite with the Anti-Life entity and merge Apokolips with New Genesis to create the Fifth World, with the New Gods of the Fourth World all deceased.
In an interview with Newsarama, DC Executive Editor Dan Didio spoke of the future of the New Gods in the DC Universe, saying, "The other thing we'll give a rest to as well is the concept of the New Gods and the ideas surrounding them. There's a very clear conclusion to the New Gods' storyline in Final Crisis #7. The good part about it is that readers will see that ending, and we won't have to return to it right away. Like the Multiverse, the New Gods will be out there and available to us, and we can use them when we see fit, and feel the time is right. Just because we introduced concepts doesn't mean that we have to constantly use them."
This from one of the key players in destroying the entire DC Universe as we know it for this abhorrent "New 52" nonsense...
As to the characteristics of the New Gods in general, the beings of New Genesis and Apokolips call themselves gods and live outside of normal time and space in a realm called the Fourth World. These New Gods have evolved due to their close proximity to the Source, a primeval energy believed to be one of the ultimate foundations of the Universal Expression of Energy, along with their superior technology, into beings of genetic stability and evolutionary perfection. The denizens of New Genesis and Apokolips are immortal and stronger, faster, and smarter than Homo sapiens, despite their resemblance.
The New Gods are vulnerable to a substance called Radion. Its source is unknown and its effects are toxic only in sustained amounts or after explosive exposure. The average New God can be slain by an application of Radion from a Radion blaster or bomb.
Almost every New God has an ability that goes beyond average physical ability but it is not a mandatory concept though special powers appear without exception among the higher level New Gods and vary greatly in their nature.
All the New Gods possess certain superhuman physical attributes. They're functionally immortal. Unless they fall in battle, they are immune to the ravages of time, and could easily live for thousands upon thousands of years. Their invulnerability is more akin to that of an Amazon rather than a Kryptonian. They're resistant to blunt trauma like punches, kicks, and blows from weapons like bats and maces, However, this invulnerability doesn't extend to bullets, laser-blasts, or other slicing weapons. New Gods have an extremely evolved immune system, the same way they've developed super strength, stamina, reflexes, speed and possess superior technology.
And then there's the mysterious Metron. Metron is a character created by Jack Kirby whom he said was "based on Leonard Nimoy as Spock", and designed as a character who "would frequently change sides [between New Genesis and Apokolips]". He first appeared in New Gods #1 (February–March 1971).
Although he possesses the powers of a god, Metron is typically depicted as a passive observer in the DC Universe rather than an active participant. He wanders in search of greater knowledge beyond his own, riding on his Mobius Chair, which can traverse time and space instantaneously.
Metron is of neither New Genesis nor Apokolips, and usually avoids the struggle between the two worlds almost entirely. As he states in New Gods #7, "The Pact,": "I have no link with the Old Gods -- or New!! I am something different! Something that was unforeseen!! -- On New Genesis -- or here!!"
Metron has invented the 'Boom Tube' technology used by the New Gods to teleport vast distances.
In 1989's Legend mini-series, Metron confides in Darkseid about the Anti-Life Equation. Apparently, Metron holds the key to the Anti-Life Equation, however he is a seeker of knowledge and so will tell no one of his knowledge.
In a 1983 DC/Marvel crossover, X-Men / Teen Titans, Metron tells Darkseid that Dark Phoenix is a part of the Anti-Life Equation. Recently in the "Death of the New Gods" miniseries the Source explains the origin of the Anti-Life Equation to Metron.
Metron helped contact most of Earth's superheroes in order to gather them during the Zero Hour crisis. During Extant's return, he fought alongside the Justice Society of America in defeating Extant after he gained control of the omnipotent Worlogog.
In the 2005 Mister Miracle miniseries, Metron contacts Shilo Norman (the then-current Mister Miracle) during a stunt gone wrong, making him aware of the Fourth World. In his first appearance in the book, he looks like he has before, but later he disguises himself as an epileptic man in a wheelchair.
During the events of Death of the New Gods, where the mysterious deaths of the entire Fourth World accelerated, Metron tracked and discovered the mastermind: the Source itself, which has in truth been lurking in the backgrounds for millennia trying to reacquire its original powers and reunite with its other half: the Anti-Life Entity. In true form, Metron sought not to stop the Source, but rather to stand by the Source's side to watch and learn as the Fourth World of the New Gods came to an end.
Eventually, after the death of Mister Miracle at the hands of the Source, Metron grows disgusted, and demands his own death. The Source complies, and kills Metron before going to confront Darkseid.
On the first page of Final Crisis #1, an all silver being appears to Anthro the First Boy and proclaims, "I am Metron." Later in the issue, Doctor Light and Mirror Master are sent by Libra to recover a device that resembles Metron's chair. Other characters come to believe that Metron gave the invention of fire to mankind through Anthro.
Later, the Mister Miracle version of the character restores Nix Uotan the fallen Monitor to his god-like status, solving a Rubik's Cube in 17 moves - one move less than the minimum supposedly required for a human being to crack the cube - triggering the conclusion of the Final Crisis of Humanity.
The Mobius Chair is later harvested by Superman to gain the precious Element X needed to power up the Miracle Machine enough to restore the Multiverse and undo all damages brought by the dark god Darkseid: in the new universe is revealed that every other denizen of Apokolips and New Genesis, except for Darkseid, is fated to be reborn, including Metron.
Metron appears in a near-death hallucination experienced by Bruce Wayne after his return to the present, encouraging Wayne to resist Darkseid's offer to embrace anti-life by encouraging him to recognise the first truth of Batman; that, despite his claims to the contrary, he has never been alone.
Metron has demonstrated numerous god-like abilities somewhat inconsistently throughout his history. However, he is most well known for the use of his Mobius Chair. Powered by the "X Element", which at times he has bartered with Darkseid for, the chair enables him to traverse time and space in his endless pursuit of knowledge. Metron is also a super-genius who has explored the universe and gained a vast amount of knowledge.
He observed the events of Kurt Busiek's JLA/Avengers comic, giving Iron Man a Mother Box to balance the power given to the Justice League by Grandmaster. His main role during the miniseries was to observe and investigate Krona's actions, refusing to deviate from his non-involvement at the end when Krona demanded his aid. At the end, Metron kept guard over the newly formed Cosmic egg.
The information about Metron makes an additional, and rather ironic point, stating that Jack Kirby's Metron also went on to influence Mattel with the creation of its character Zodac for the Masters of the Universe toy line. Zodac, like Metron, has been portrayed as an impartial observer, and more than once has shown up seated in some sort of high-tech chair that seems to aid his abilities, even though the toy never came with any such accessory.
Zodac might be able to get along without a fancy chair, but it's a much more crucial part of Metron's history, and was really the reason the character was never previously brought into the DC Universe Classics line.
So, how's the figure? Well, notably, he comes in a much larger box than usual for a DC Signature Series offering, due specifically to needing to accommodate not only Metron, but his Mobius Chair. You can't do a figure of Metron and NOT do the Mobius Chair, which is why we've had to wait so long for Metron to join Mattel's DC Universe Classics action figure line-up.
Fortunately, the Signature Series, offered online and shipped through the mail as it is, is under no particular constraints of package size or design, so it was well possible to finally do Metron, and give him his chair. And the results are nothing short of outstanding!
Metron, like most of the New Gods, is a fairly standard humanoid in appearance. It's the clothes that make the man -- or the god -- and when you've got Jack Kirby as your wardrobe designer, you're going to get some seriously impressive threads!
Metron's design has changed a little over the years. Most modern interpretations dress him in a rather dark blue, with just the ever-present detail lines first imagined by Kirby standing out against the background. Mattel has gone back a little further, and presented us with a more, dare I say it, classic take on Metron. The result is a more colorful figure, and I'm not really going to complain about that.
Metron is wearing a dark blue, tight-fitting uniform that really only leaves his face exposed. Interestingly, the headpiece is tight enough so that his ears are fully detailed, even though they are covered by the headpiece. A series of angled light blue lines borders his face, culminating in something resembling an "M" on his forehead. Somewhat thicker angled lines cover his eyebrows, and give them a rather upswept look -- not unlike a certain Vulcan whom Kirby claims as inspiration for the character. The lines continue over the top of Metron's head, meeting in the back. There is a red dot just above Metron's forehead.
On the torso, the light blue lines are imprinted, and outlined in black, against a chest and abdomen that is mostly light gray. It's a little difficult to describe the overall pattern, although within the DC Universe, it's generally recognized as belonging solely to Metron, and is considered a mark of his presence where it is encountered. Bruce Wayne used it when he was trapped in the prehistoric past following the events of "Final Crisis". The pattern, a series of straight lines, a few curved lines, dots, and a circle, the interior of which is colored reddish-orange, looks to me like a cross between designs created by some ancient Native American tribes -- and a circuit board pattern. That's really the best way I can put it.
Metron's costume has long, dark blue sleeves, that come over the backs of his hands somewhat, but he is also wearing light blue gloves. He also has light blue trunks and a black belt. It is these details, along with the light gray chest, which were occasionally dropped from his design in later years. An artistic choice, but I have no problem with this classic look. Metron's leggings go right down to his feet. There are no distinct boots per se.
For the most part, Metron uses the standard "male hero" body molds of the DC Universe Classics line. I don't have a problem with this whatsoever, as it does lend a nice level of consistency to the line that some other superhero action figure lines lack. Obviously Metron's head is a unique piece, but so are the hands, both to accommodate the longer sleeves, and the fact that both of Metron's hands are open, not partially closed, or formed into fists. This is to allow Metron to appear as though he is manipulating the controls of his Mobius Chair.
The painting is, for the most part, excellent, although I did encounter a bit of a scuff on one of the hands. Not really enough to worry about, unless this sort of thing becomes commonplace. One of the down sides to buying these figures online is that one is buying sight unseen, and any problems will remain undiscovered until the figure arrives and is opened. And "quality control" from ANY company these days is open to a lot of debate.
Fortunately, Metron is pretty much problem free. No complaints. The design on his torso, I am convinced, is complex enough so that I don't believe it was painted, but rather imprinted, by whatever means such things are done. This is a technique that to one degree or another has existed at least since Hasbro started stamping Cobra emblems on the bad guys in G.I. Joe, and it probably goes back further than that. But how it's done, I couldn't tell you.
Metron's face is neatly painted, especially the eyes, and I would describe his facial expression as solemn and rather serious. Metron isn't a guy you go to if you're looking for laughs.
Of course, the figure is superbly articulated, and is fully poseable at the head, arms, upper arm swivel, elbows, wrists, mid-torso, waist, legs, upper leg swivel, knees, and ankles. All of this allows him, along with a wide range of motion, to very effectively assume a seated position, in his Mobius Chair.
The Mobius Chair has been a little more open to artistic interpretation and revision over the years than Metron himself. Certain particulars have remained common. It's a big, high-tech chair with a huge circular something-or-other mounted above and behind it, with a series of controls on the tips of the armrests, and a large platform for Metron's feet, everything detailed in the unmistakable Kirby style.
But, I have seen a variety of color schemes over the years, and sometimes some of the minor details are altered. I figure either Metron has more than one model of Mobius Chair -- you know, like some people have more than one car -- or he's at least slapped a fresh coat of paint on the thing every so often.
I'm assuming that Mattel and the Four Horsemen have made an effort to produce as classic a look with the Mobius Chair as they have with Metron himself. The chair comes packaged as two parts -- the chair itself, and the platform. They snap together very readily. The chair is predominantly green in color, with a lighter, bright green disc mounted above and behind, and many of the sculpted details have been painted in a metallic gold, that seems to have a slight touch of green in it.
The chair itself has a very angular look to it, Frankly, it doesn't look terribly comfortable. If I were going to come up with a chair-like device that allowed me to traverse all of time and space, I think I'd be inclined to come up with something a little closer to a La-Z-Boy. Then again, I've been known to nod off in my La-Z-Boy, and that could be problematic if it were attached to machinery that allowed it to traverse all of time and space and required my attention. Aim for the Revolutionary War, or ancient Egypt or something, doze off, overshoot, and I wake up face-to-face with a dinosaur that's trying to decide if I'm edible.
The back of the chair sweeps upward at a curved angle, and to the top of it is mounted a bright green circular disc with many concentric lines engraved into it. For those of you who know what a record is, it looks something like a record. And, it does spin, in case you've ever wondered if that particular part of the Mobius chair actually did that. I'm not really sure what function it serves, but I am reminded of some of the cinematic designs of H.G. Wells' time machine.
The tips of the armrests have various buttons and controls on them. Here I have to believe that Kirby was inspired by the "captain's chair" of the U.S.S. Enterprise of the original Star Trek. Captain Kirk had a wide range of assorted controls on the armrests of that center seat, everything from communication throughout and beyond the ship to ordering a pizza, for all I know.
The rest of the chair has assorted Kirby-esque designs sculpted into it, especially the platform, and most especially the underside of the Mobius Chair, as well as a large circular detail on the back.
The Mobius Chair is not small. Metron, typical for a figure in this line, measures about 6-1/2" in height. The chair is about 8-1/2" in height, 7-1/4" in length, this being the platform, and about 4-1/4" wide at its widest point on the chair, the armrests, with a curved detail on the front of the chair measuring 4-1/2" wide. Some sort of bumpers, perhaps?
Metron can be posed to sit very effectively in the chair, as you can see from the pictures, and part of me wonders how great a challenge that might have been. The DC Universe Classics line hasn't had vehicles or furniture before. Some lines do. G.I. Joe, for example, has had many dozens of vehicles in its history. Generally speaking, the figures have been a good fit for them. I've often wondered what it takes to fit furniture for an action figure.
In any case, the Mobius Chair is an excellent fit for Metron. It's certainly been designed with great precision, and painted very neatly.
So, what's my final word? I would certainly expect this to be a popular part of anyone's DC Universe collection. Fans have been pleading for Metron to be added for years, but the Mobius Chair was always a massive hurdle. That obstacle was finally resolved, and now, we have Metron, Mobius Chair and all, and the results are extremely impressive. I'm glad to have him, and I believe that any fan of Mattel's DC Universe products will be, as well. Although the figure is exclusive to those who subscribed to MattyCollector's Club Infinite Earths, there's always the "secondary market" to acquire him, and I certainly regard him as being worth it.
The DC UNIVERSE SIGNATURE SERIES figure of METRON, complete with MOBIUS CHAIR, definitely has my highest recommendation!