While it doesn’t happen often, sometimes a cover grabs me. It’s so enticing that I can’t resist getting a little giddy to see what’s inside. Metamorpho #4 dated Jan-Feb. 1966 is exactly what the Doctor ordered. It’s colorful, action packed and takes you on an adventure prior to page one. Pure silver aged goodness.
Now that the front of the book has amused my avacados, let’s open it up and find out if the carpet matches the drapes. First off, here are the creators that brought us Metamorpho’s Mexican migration titled “The Awesome Escapades of the Abominable Playboy”.
I’ve written about the scripter Bob Haney before in Two Staple Gold. Be sure to give that column a look see. Shameless self promotion is my middle name. Sorry Bob…
The renowned Ramona Fradon penciled this groovy little gordita. She is truly a living legend. Besides being the co-creator of Metamorpho, her Aquaman work is considered some of the most iconic in the history of the character. Spending the majority of her career at DC, Ramona also drew the Brenda Starr newspaper strip from 1980 until her retirement as an illustrator in 1995.
Something you need to know about Rex Tillerson aka Metamorpho. He may be one butt ugly dude but deep down he’s a romantic. ‘Morpho was created by mad scientist Simon Stagg and he’s in love with Simon’s daughter Sapphire. Sure, her dad is nuttier than a bag of bolts, has a creepy cro-magnon as an assistant and her name is suitable for a stripper but what a looker! From a readers perspective, this makes for an interesting supporting cast to say the least.
“That’s funny. ‘El Bonehead Stupendo’ was my nickname in college. Small world.”
Problem is, Sapphire is one fickle female. She has feelings for Rex but wants more attention. How does one garner extra affection from DC’s resident Elemental Man? Easy, he may be able turn his limbs to steel but isn’t impervious to a taste of jealousy. That bitter nectar can make the most steadfast superhero a little loco.
“Could’ve started Operation: Honesty but the story would’ve ended next panel.”
She selects “Cha-Cha” Chavez, an over the top latin lover as the tool for her spite campaign. A Mexican millionaire who’s wealth is a mystery. In an impressive initial act, he showers Sapphire’s home with flowers. So much so that Team ‘Morpho must escape to the roof. He then displays his redesign of Mt.Rushmore featuring Sapphire’s likeness. Ridiculous? Absolutely, but her dad is sold.
“Wonder when ‘Bring her Hot Fudge’ makes it’s debut on Urban Dictionary.”
Metamorpho isn’t pleased Cha-Cha is moving Heaven and Earth to woo is gal but has no say in the matter when the entire clan is invited to board his yacht for a trip to his homeland. Setting sail steaming mad, he notices something odd while stewing on the starboard side. A submarine has launched a torpedo at their boat. Rex quickly transforms into a Manganese Paravane (hell if I knew what that was) and destroys the missile.
“Technically, if there were no time a paperclip would have been a logical choice.”
In the process, Metamorpho managed to also blow himself to bits. His limbs conveniently land on board the yacht. Speaking of opportune situations, there happens to be a lab below deck that Stagg uses to piece his monster back together. He better hurry, an attack plane has started spraying bullets at everyone topside. Returning in time to save the day, our hero smells something fishy. Accusing Cha-Cha of foul play, it’s explained as a Mexican way of saying howdy. Nice excuse buddy. What’s next, your Chihuahua ate your homework?
“OK Chavez enough malarkey…wait, that dog is friggin’ HUGE!”
Settling in at Cha-Cha’s mansion proves to be no picnic either. The source of his money is indeed based in criminal activity. He’s an arms dealer and angry rebels have stormed the compound. In a blaze of gunfire, they kidnap Simon Stagg and his lackey Java. Well, take a wild guess who has to go off and save everyone’s guacamole again. This time however, rather than transform into some wacky device, he rolls like a native. Hi-Ho Silver away! Bad ass to the max dude.
“Sir…that cigar WILL BE AVENGED!”
The hostages have been put before a firing squad for their affiliation with Chavez. Simon, who in the beginning would have covered himself in chicken feathers for the man now renounces him to no avail. As the guns go off, Metamorpho rides in and turns his arm into what he calls an “iron mitt”. To me it looks like a giant ladle but I suppose that’s a tough feature to sell when marketing your powers. “What can you do?” they ask. “Me, I turn into an indestructible spoon!”. Yeah, iron mitt it is.
“The DCU Ping Pong Champion of 1966”
The rebellion realizes they stand no chance versus a superhuman, so rather than fight they make their case to Metamorpho. They inform him that Cha-Cha Chavez is a dictator that goes by the name “El Lupo” and is one cutthroat bastard. The weapons he procures are used against his own countrymen. ‘Morpho is having none of that. Sapphire is still in the grubby grasp of that sinister señor. He rallies the troops and rides back to the hacienda only to discover Cha-Cha escaping via helicopter with his lady.
“At that height, I think I’d just jump out of the damned thing.”
They’ve fled to the Capital where Metamorpho goes incognito mosquito in a nifty sombrero, following their tracks to a bull fight. The nation’s insurgents has taken to him, spray painting propaganda throughout the city in his name. Beats having your phone number scrawled in bathroom stall by comparison.
“For a good time call Geoff Johns.”
After entering the arena, Metamorpho discovers that the bull has been fitted with a booby trap. The tip of it’s horns are actually bomb detonators. One tap and the stadium gets blown to smithereens. Well, say no more. This looks like a job for Meta-Matrador, Ole! Yeah, I just made that nickname up but I kind of dig it. The crowd, unaware of their lives being in danger are wowed by Meta-Matrador’s skills. He proceeds to reshape into various forms, avoiding a perilous poke. ‘Morpho snaps off the pesky prick, saving the lives of the onlookers but leaving the Bull with a case of antler envy.
“Isn’t that illegal? Shouldn’t he get a yellow card or something?”
Defeated, Cha-Cha tries to make off with Sapphire. Java the caveman jumps to the rescue but you just knew somebody was gonna get jabbed in the ass, or as I lovingly refer to it as a “toro tickled”. With Java down for the count, Metamorpho turns himself into gelatin glue and stops our bad guy in his tracks. That’s right, a scoundrel undone by a snack! Shouldn’t be surprised though as Jello sure did a number on Bill Cosby and Lindsay Lohan. Talk about getting yourself into sticky situations! Ahem…
“J-E-L-L-Oh hell NO!”
Full disclosure, I left a couple of plot points out of my recap. Why? I really want you to go check this out. It’s campy as you imagine but the book is crazier than a pinata filled with firecrackers. I love the ever livin’ crap out of it. Props to me for not fully spoiling a fifty one year old comic. Gotta take my pats on the back where I can get them people.
Here’s a novel idea. Some of you may be familiar with the Justice League Action cartoon. It’s actually pretty rad and my kid really enjoys it. Why not take some silver age yarns like this one and adapt them to animation? It can’t be faithfully reproduced as some of the subject matter isn’t suitable for kids these days but it’s the whole enchilada when it comes to silly entertainment. See that, I’m an idea man. Show me the dinero.
Pick this one up. It’s a classic.
David Schultz is the Creator/Co-Host of the Parlipod Podcast. Give it a listen on Soundcloud or via the GWW Radio Network. If you have a comic you would like to see reviewed on Two Staple Gold or just want to harass Dave, follow @lavahog on Twitter. For the record, “El Lupo” has no meaning in Mexican Spanish, so feel free to toss that nugget around. Your Welcome.
Metamorpho #4 images rights of DC Comics. All other pictures and videos rights of their respective owners.