Gutwrenching meh-taaaaaaahhhhl (1): Graeme starts off 8/1 with some metal, man.

Already destined (well, probably) to be a low-seller thanks to its subject matter and lack of big name creative talent, it's nonetheless true that Duncan Rouleau's METAL MEN #1 is possibly the most enjoyable thing that DC has put out this week.

Part of the thrill of the book is that it's clearly part of someone's own creative vision; I mean, yes, not only is it not tied (it seems, at this point, at least) to Countdown or Amazons Attack! or the Sinestro Corps War or any other storyline coming out of any other book - Even the "From the pages of 52" on the cover is somewhat misleading, as this doesn't pick up any storylines from that series other than showing that Doc Magnus and TO Morrow knew each other way back when - but there's something about both the writing and art that is wonderfully out of step with contemporary mainstream trends. Rouleau's art, which has always trended towards the busy and cartoony (I almost want to say "manga-influenced," but I'm probably wrong in that) has now morphed into something not unlike Chris Bachalo's current look but with clearer layout and panel design; his trend towards characture not only making sense here, but also making his designs for the title characters more attractive than they've looked in years.

What was most surprising, though, was the writing. I haven't read Rouleau's first attempt at writing (Active Images did a graphic novel of his last year that I think was called "The Nightmarist," but I can't be sure), so I wasn't prepared for how quickly and effortlessly this issue sped past: Bouncing between chapters with puns for titles ("To Serve With Love"?), setting things up for the future while laying down the past, all with dialogue that gives insight shortcuts into the characters and the context... It read Morrison-esque even before his "Based on ideas by" credit at the back of the book, and I mean that in the best way.

It's an attractive and amusing book, respectful without being a slavish recreation of the original incarnation, and definitely Very Good. Which probably means that the backlash will start in about three seconds...