Tuesday, July 6, 2010

My World : Mr. Metal

Mr. Metal

It's a story we've all heard countless times. Two business rivals compete in the same arena. One of them is far more successful in his endeavors. The other lags behind and declares bankruptcy. One blames the other for his company's failure and vows revenge. Usually, the results aren't worth discussing. The case of Paul Mann and Louis Schmidt is the exception.

The reasons why Louis Schmidt lost out to Paul Mann had nothing to do with a lack of skill on Schmidt's part. They also weren't due to any unethical behavior on Mann's behalf, but that wasn't the way Schmidt saw it. He felt that Mann's gains in their sector had to be because he was cheating. To Schmidt, there could be no other explanation. He was clearly superior to Paul Mann in every way - at least in his mind.

Especially galling to Louis Schimdt was Paul Mann's career as Captain Satellite. Schmidt complained loudly and often that reporting the Captain's exploits constituted free advertising for Paul Mann's business interests. He demanded equal time, but was rebuffed at every turn.

Bankruptcy was the last straw for Louis Schmidt, and the end of anything passing as "reasonable behavior." Whether he snapped completely or just was consumed with a lust for vengeance is academic. Schmidt used his company's resources to construct the armor that would make him into a super-villain. Now known as Mr. Metal, he swore that he would destroy Paul Mann just the way Paul Mann had destroyed him.

Mr. Metal has never quite achieved his stated goal, but he is a powerful force of villainy. He has been known to form a team-up of convenience from time to time with fellow felon Disco Ball. Neither is very happy with the arrangement, for differing reasons.

The proto-Mr. Metal was born in the same dream that led to Disco Ball, which is why I like the idea of them as reluctant partners. Mr. Metal was originally my brain's interpretation of the Marvel villain Cobalt Man without having ever seen Cobalt Man. And yes, he had a cape in the dream.

I had two problems with bringing this character up-to-date. One was he needed a new name, and it took a few tries before I settled on "Mr. Metal." The other was his coloring. The dream Cobalt Man had a yellow helmet, but the rest of his armor (and his cape!) were jet black. Maybe stylish, but not really colorful or original - even in my world. I chose to go gold on the helmet and threw in a few other armor details to break up the color scheme a mite. The armor is now a shade of grey and the cape is green. Why green? Because the first caped armored character I ever saw (yes, there have been others) had a green cape. That was a 1980s interpretation of the Golden Age Superman villain Metalo. Please note, there's only ONE "l" in his name!

As a strange footnote, I recalled while preparing Mr. Metal that I had seen a pre-existing character with the black suit/yellow helmet combo. This was "Mask Man," a one-time foe of the Legion of Super-Heroes who appeared in digest-sized reprint I read in my youthful days. I can't tell you 1) if I read that reprint before or after the original dream or 2) if it was an influence in any way. It might just be a huge coincidence, similar to the one that led me to choose a double "M" name for my character too.

Design-wise, Mr. Metal obviously owes a lot to Iron Man. This was even more pronounced in his original incarnation, but I've tried to stray a little and find my own way with him. His alter ego is a little bit of a tribute to my favorite Iron Man fan, and is all in good fun. The origin I developed sounds suspiciously like that of Wonder Man to me, but I am certain it's been used a hundred times over.

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