As the enemies from the stars draw near, the warriors of Earth have their first team mission experience. In this issue, Superman believes it is his birthright to lead. However, unless they can work together, they will remain ill-equipped in confronting the dastardly plans of intergalactic despots or Lex Luthor.
Every issue of DC: Mech is an explosive showcase of Baldemar Rivas’ sense of style. The slick robotic designs look like something right out of major mecha anime and manga. The range of animated and expressive action scenes easily drive the comic’s pace and impact. The pages light up with bright lasers, colorful explosions, and high saturated character designs that keep the tone fun, despite the grim circumstances. The cartoonish visuals are the standout draw and perhaps a distraction from the increasingly basic story structure.
When Kenny Porter set out to turn DC characters into Shonen genre protagonists, I didn’t expect to hate their personalities so much. The nauseating rivalry between Batman and The Superman has escalated to new levels of angst. In this universe, Kal-El has “Chip-On-My-Shoulder-Itis” and forces everyone to endure his self-righteous attitude. Never missing an opportunity to tell the team about his dead parents’ dreams, he single-handedly ruins two missions. There is something unintentionally funny about Batman quietly finding common ground whenever he does. In any case, most readers have seen this behavior spiral out and course-correct itself before long.
The story structure is pretty much ripped right out of a Power Rangers episode. Furthermore, Darkseid even lines up a few of his generals like every Saturday morning cartoon villain ever made. This includes more unintentional lampoons of his own personality from Super Friends, down to similar monologues or the treatment of his son Kalibak. Porter puts Lex Luthor in the center of the book’s B-Plot. While Luthor’s dark secret could lead to something interesting, so far it has only resulted in highly telegraphed clichés. Even if the book is purposely relying on tropes, there isn’t very much subversion or originality in it’s direction.
The pros have their own cons. Although I love the artwork in the book, some of the designs have unnecessary flaws. For instance, Shiera’s Blackhawks pilot impractical versions of their Grumman Xf5f Sky Rockets with robotic appendages. I understand the series focuses on fictional robots, but fighter jets really do have guns in real life. At some point, I have to laugh at any book pitting robots against giant monsters in t-shirts. Moreover, the dialogue seems to be wooden and unnatural at points. This became an issue when Steve Trevor and Wonder Woman have to sell their important connection to the readers at crucial moments. When the serious moments do happen, the tropes and clichéd dialogue dilute their impact. Finally, while I do enjoy Easter Eggs, they hardly ever affect the story direction.
- A fun low stakes adventure is just what you need.
- You are a Shonen or Mech anime fan.
Overall, DC: Mech is a book that looks great, but isn’t going anywhere. I’m starting to suspect that the artwork is a convenient crutch for stiff writing. The writing isn’t so much bad as it is by the numbers. Most of the relationships are clearly homages to other things in the genre without their own identity. I could spend most of my time gushing about the robot battles and superhuman abilities, but the value of what the book is saying is often low. If a reader can prioritize having a “good time” over reading something wholly original, then this book will satisfy that itch. For those of us looking for more, we’ll have to hope there are legitimate surprises waiting around the corner.
DISCLAIMER: DC Comics provided Batman News with a copy of this comic for the purposes of this review.