A Super-Team For The Future
♦ Tripwire’s contributing writer Scott Braden gives us his latest in his series of features on comic stories or series that never happened. This week it’s the turn of David Michelinie’s Metallix …
David Michelinie’s Metallix
Recognised in the four-color medium and beyond for his outstanding work on Marvel Comics’ Amazing Spider-Man and Iron Man, among others, David Michelinie is probably best known for his fan-favorite co-creations Venom and Carnage. But, at the turn of the millennium, the acclaimed comics scribe looked to the future – Future Comics, that is — with a trio of uncanny heroes, including comicdom’s first-ever tag team hero known as Metallix.
What was it about Future Comics appealed to Michelinie as a writer?
“Freedom and ownership,” Michelinie revealed. “Bob Layton and I created all of the characters and we owned the properties outright. We could produce the stories we wanted to tell, the way we wanted to tell them, without any outside interference or restrictions. Plus, if anyone came calling with licensing requests we could make all of the decisions ourselves, maintaining control and assuring a fair share of any profits.”
Metallix was a very innovative super-hero comic for the time. Would it be wrong to consider it to be Future Comics unorthodox team book?
“Well, it was definitely a team book since there were four characters that made up Metallix,” Michelinie said. “And it was definitely unorthodox since only one of those members could have a ‘power’ at a time, leaving the others to provide un-super support.”
What inspired the creation of Metallix?
“Co-plotter Bob Layton had come up with the name ‘Metallix’ when we were collaborating on an Iron Man project (‘The End’) at Marvel,” said Michelinie. “Then, when we were developing characters for Future, he suggested an armored character whose armor was liquid metal that could alter on the spot. As a fan of the old Challengers of the Unknown at DC, I suggested the twist of making it a team book, since ‘Metallix’ kind of sounded plural anyway. The liquid armor could then be passed between the individual team members when their specialized skills – pilot, marksman, underwater expert, etc. – were called for.”
What was the synopsis of this super-hero story so far – according to Mr. Michelinie?
“We placed our basic setting in Florida,” Michelinie recalled, “since that’s where Future Comics – and fellow founders Bob Layton and Dick Giordano – were headquartered at the time. A scientific development company, Redstone Research, was working on a programable liquid called Metal X, brought to them by an employee named Maxwell Krome. Initially planned as a protective suit to shield emergency crews in high hazard environments, it was discovered that Max Krome had been developing weapons systems for the armor, intending to sell it to the highest bidder. Released from his contract, the bitter ex-employee developed an offshoot of the original Metal X, one that gave him great power, but also fed his mental instability and turned him into Redstone’s arch nemesis. In the meantime, the finished suit of liquid armor was used to form Team Metallix, hired out by Redstone for dangerous missions around the world.”
Where was Metallix‘s story headed before it ceased publication?
“We had published seven issues of Metallix, #0-6,” explained Michelinie. “Issue #7 (‘Oh, Really’) had been completed while 15 pages of #8 (‘Stu And Blue’s Excellent Adventure’ had been pencilled and scripted. In issue #5 one of the team’s original members died in combat and this shocking tragedy informed plots and subplots in the following issues. Tryouts for a replacement were carried out, with unexpected long-term results. And the armor started doing things it wasn’t designed to do, while the wearers started hearing voices, as if the armor might be…haunted.”
How did Metallix fit in the Future Comics’ four-color universe? How did the hero interact with the company’s other heroes, if at all?
“Metal X was to be the link between all four of the initial Future titles,” the acclaimed writer revealed. “A product of technology from a mysterious highly advanced race that disappeared from the Earth millennia ago, the theories and properties behind Metal X were what enabled Jacob Nakai’s mask to channel sentient power from another plane in Deathmask. The same was true for the tech breakthrough that allowed McKinsey Flint to transfer his consciousness and will into the Edison Wilde android in Freemind.
“Unfortunately, we never had the chance to guest star the Metallix crew in other titles, save for a cameo by Owen Parrish in Freemind #0.”
What is Michelinie’s fondest memory from writing the adventures of this hero?
“Delving into each of the individual characters’ personalities, their quirks and motivations and histories and relationships and goals and fears and on and on and on,” Michelinie recalled. “When you’re making up new people the slate is completely clean, and you can draw on it any way you want. And pretty soon you’re discovering things about characters that you never imagined. And that is one of the true joys of writing.”
Did Michelinie have other stories to tell with this book? How far did he plot out the series?
“Not being able to finish and publish issue #8 was one of my biggest regrets,” Michelinie said. “It focused on Blue Hill and Stu Konig, on how Stu’s hidden crush on Blue causes him to put his life on the line to save her. There was action aplenty, but there was also a bittersweetness about it that I really wanted to bring out.”
What other projects is Michelinie currently working on?
“I recently finished a one-shot story for Gladstone’s School for World Conquerors,” Michelinie added, “and have plotted my second story for The Living Corpse, this one the first-ever solo outing for Lilith, goth-girl-turned-vampire and major member of the LC’s supporting cast.”
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