When DC Comics first announced DC: Mech, one could assume it was a crazy mashup of ideas to appeal to a younger audience. But heck, it also appeals to the kid inside all of us as Kenny Porter and Baldemar Rivas detail an alternate timeline where every superhero has its own skyscraper-sized mech suit. Then you read it and realize a lot of thought went into this idea which makes it a must-read Elseworlds tale.
DC: Mech #1 opens with some backstory before we get to our legacy heroes like Batman and Flash. As the preview shows, the JSA had won the second world war, but a new and much more dangerous threat came knocking on the day they celebrated. This threat came from space, and after losing a few heroes but defeating this foe, the world changed forever. Think of the arms race to acquire nukes, and you get the idea.
There’s no fat on this story, quickly zipping along to check in on Krypton, the main villain Darkseid, and finally bringing the reader to the present day. There’s a level of seriousness and adult themes here that makes this not a mashup for kids. Porter has remixed the Justice League with some key moments in DC Comics history changed to allow a new story to unfold. That’s exciting, especially since these heroes are still themselves. The biggest change is that aliens are feared on Earth, which will enhance the anti-Superman sentiment, I’m sure.
Baldemar Rivas also elevates this story beyond your standard YA tale with great art. The detailed style and textures give the book a realistic feel with an anime zip, thanks to the energy. The design of the mechs is interesting, too, conveying the attitude or vibe of a character well. Flash has lightning bolts wrapping around his head, for instance, while Batman’s helmet is similar to a knight. I won’t argue that a giant mech having a cape is ridiculous, but given how much of this isn’t that over the top, it’s easy to let go. Given Superman’s mech has a nose–most aren’t as humanoid looking–one can imagine that as another design element to convey something about the character.
If you’re looking for action, this issue has plenty. Flash must fight some baddies later in the issue, and the JSA also faces off against the first ever alien threat at the start. There are also some cool energy effects delivered well by Mike Spicer’s colors. The color palette is warm but not so bright it’s hard to take seriously.
The action does end up destroying some buildings at the hand of Batman, no less. For all the work this issue does to explain why heroes need mecha suits, it ignores that hundreds may have died when the heroes fight. It’s a minor quibble you can easily ignore with the suspension of disbelief already on high alert, but it takes away from the realism a bit.
DC: Mech #1 is a fun and surprisingly deep introduction to an alternate universe where superheroes control mechs. Not only does it supply a valid reason for it, but draws you into what could be in this alternate reality.
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