If you follow my previous reviews, you may know I am interested in vampires. To make it short, it is because of their versatility. How you can make two “vampire” stories that tackle two completely different issues, and how vampires can be the protagonists of the story or solely an element in the scope of a much bigger tale. While thinking about life, sci-fi, and writing this review for Metal Society #1, I discovered that robots have the same characteristics.
There are a lot of robot stories. Robots can be good, bad, dependent, or independent. As a reflection of what the future may behold for society, they can represent anything. It depends on the mood of the creators. Also, as fictional beings, they can take any form, power, and capabilities, which further enhances their versatility.
If you want me to illustrate my point, allow me to introduce Metal Society #1 by Zack Kaplan, Guilherme Balbi, Marco Lesko, and Troy Peteri. Who could have imagined there would be a book about a human and a robot fighting, MMA style? Who would win? We know the average human’s strength and could assume that robots are more powerful, but we aren’t sure of their full capabilities. This David vs. Goliath element creates a compelling story from the start.
But hey, there is a twist. The hook of this book may be the MMA fighting between humans and robots, which surely elevates the reader’s curiosity, but the secret sauce of the story is the world where it is set. Here, the robots exterminated the humans because they were destroying the world. Later, they brought them back. And now, humans do the jobs robots hate, and live in their shadow. The society depicted adds a complex layer to both factions and mystery to their motivations.
In that sense, the creators tell two stories in one, with two kinds of robots. We have the big bad boss, the all-powerful robot that beats the human in every aspect, yet he is not human. He doesn’t have the perseverance factor. He doesn’t have a soul. The fight of man against the machine is one of defying all odds. Then, we have robots that control society, a completely different kind of bad guy. Cold, intelligent, and soulless, we never know what they would do in the name of the greater good or their benefit. They defeated us, brought us back, and probably could erase us again.
This is an interesting metaphor because robots become the creators of humans, but they wouldn’t exist if not for us. And it goes beyond the page because it also applies to robot stories. Robots serve as the opposite of the human experience. If they start showing human traits, they become humans. Vampires need blood to exist, and robots need humans. Therefore, a robot story is as good as its human protagonists are. In that sense, the book presents us with different generations of humans who have their own experiences coming back to the world. Even in this small, post-apocalyptic society, we can recognize present-day experiences: some humans side with robots, others want peace even if they are oppressed, and the young, rebellious ones fight for humans and robots to be equals.
As you see, the story may feature robots, but it is full of heart. It puts humanity in a dark place, but with enjoyable characters representing humans in the best way possible. The juxtaposition of hope and darkness wouldn’t be possible without the detailed art that depicts a broken, metal society. The book has many beautiful two-page spreads showing both sides of this cold war. It doesn’t leave anything to the imagination, as it depicts the city from different perspectives. The color palette also contrasts humans and robots. Together, all these aspects make this a perfect comic for new readers, not only of comic books but of the sci-fi genre. Truly spectacular.