In the latest issue of DC: Mech, the human race seeks salvation from evil space invaders in the form of giant mech suits. However, Earth’s heroes brawl among themselves when one spaceman decides to offer his help.
The story starts with the introduction of three new characters. Firstly, pilots John Stewart and Hal Jordan become Green Lantern Alan Scott’s successors. With the help of Ferris Air, the duo control a Green Lantern powered mech suit with a cockpit ripped right out of Robotech. Additionally, they are trained by Wonder Woman and her ancient robot. Her battle mech features a freestanding cockpit closer to Power Rangers or Pacific Rim. Baldemar Rivas designs Wonder Woman with a Roman Centurion influenced plume, aegis shield, and golden armor. Together, they open the book with an explosively rendered sparring match.
Trust can be a powerful thematic anchor. Trust is the foundation of friendship, partnership, and other kinds of relationships. Whenever we sink into fear and doubt, trust keeps the “ship” afloat. On the other hand, DC: Mech‘s Batman is a spoiled rich pilot suffering from issues with trust and control. His giant robot feels like an inappropriate way to compensate for his insecurity over his powerlessness and xenophobic reaction to Superman. As Batman falls into the fairly common trope of “The Resenter,” he struggles to assert power over the other pilots and his superiors. If this keeps up, his brat-like behavior will hold the team back indefinitely.
While the “good guys” attempt to coordinate, the bad guys make their move. Kalibak leads a squad of enhanced pilots of his own to steal resources from Earth. Their varied designs pay homage to anime mechs from series like Gurren Lagann, Evangellion, and an organic robot closely resembling Pokémon’s Deoxys. Kenny Porter forces both teams to clash and expose their individual weaknesses and strengths. While neither team pass the stress test, they at least leave the fight willing to grow and seek necessary upgrades.
In terms of layout, the book continues to retain appeal. Readers can look forward to each new design like vehicle builds at a car show. The powerful color and ink combo reminds me of the washed saturated look of a rainy day. The wacky robots and sharp angled character designs reinforce the fun anime-like tone it’s going for. For better or worse, the trope heavy behavior of the protagonists and antagonists often compliment the artwork. Otherwise, it is the tone itself that will turn people away from the series as a whole.
DC: Mech is involuntarily hit or miss. The dedication to the Saturday Morning cartoon vibe will make or break enjoyment of the book. There are many panels with cheesy dialogue, one dimensional villains, and cliché character traits that will differ in quality based on your aptitude. For example, identifying Batman’s chilly reception of Superman as just a Shonen trope doesn’t erase its possible lack of appeal. While I can give an Elseworld story merit for building out it’s own world, it will never stop audiences from holding the material accountable to its association with the source material.
- Anime is your second language and Manga is your first.
- You’re game for a creative DC adaptation.
- You are looking forward to new mech designs each book.
Truthfully, I really enjoy reading this series. However, there is no denying how incredibly niche the reading experience is becoming. If you are the kind of reader who can easily slip into a simple fantasy world, then this will scratch your itch. If not, this book will probably seem cliché and ridiculously corny. I don’t anticipate very much of a mixed divide on quality, but this book is really good at speaking to a specific audience that I don’t doubt some drop off as it continues.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided a copy of this issue for the purpose of this review.