Friday, July 24, 2015

FORGOTTEN FOES : DR.STRANGEGLOVE AND THE BRAINCHILDREN


The Metal Men are one of those seeming Silver Age paradoxes which managed to remain endlessly inventive while sticking to a pretty solid formula; the Metal Men was a team of heroic robots, and they fought teams of villainous robots. Nice and neat, wrapped up sweet, and it worked seamlessly as a routine for a significant part of their run.

Jump ahead a couple of decades and the effort to situate the Metal Men comfortably into a Bronze Age groove led to the creation of some genuinely off-beat and off-theme enemies, including Dr.Strangeglove and the Brain Children, debuting in Metal Men vol.1 No.52 (July 1977).

No wonder they suspected nothing, that machine is very subtle!
While the Metal Men's Will Magnus is busily confronting a military conspiracy which threatens the existence of his creations, he stumbles across evidence of a secret project called "Babylab," which sounds like the new sound taking the rave scene by storm. What Babylab turns out to be is the deeply unsettling experiment of Dr.Norman Techno (see, I told you it sounded like the next big trend in music!) and a small army of telepathic tots with a lust for murder and mind control.

Techno, it turns out, had been using the resources of the U.S. Military to fire Baby Genius rays (and Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2 rays, just to be sure) at young pregnant women, turning their unborn children into infant super-intellects who "possessed the stored knowledge of PhDs and the physical development of toddlers."

The plan is to employ the babies' brilliant minds to solve the problems of pollution and overpopulation, which is the last thing I'd make new babies to solve but that's just me. First rule when trapped in a hole - stop digging. Second rule is not to make telepathic murder babies.

Yep, although the babies are subservient to the Doc, they also have something of a kill-crazed thing going on. The very first time we meet the Brainchildren, they're using their combined mental might to give one of their fellow toddlers a heartattack. For the record, this is played for laughs in the actual comic. Someone call the authorities.

I dunno man, this seems like rough chuckles.

Although Dr.Techno has a perfectly good villain name on his own, he gets the additional sobriquet after an accidental nuclear explosion fuses Techno's typewriter and part of the "brain-stimulator" used to create the babies to his hand. He ends up with something that looks like a Hellboy cosplay made out of aluminum cans and tinfoil - but loaded with power! Power! Power like the ability to freeze people in place with the use of what he calls his ... Shift-Lock!

Dr.Will Magnus, Manic-Depressive Nanny.
I like to imagine he also has the powers to send people into Space, immobilize them for an undetermined Period, disrupt their Colons and get them a Tab.

Obviously neither Dr.Strangeglove nor the Brainchildren were created without tongue planted at least lightly in the cheek, but then again the whole story starts with babymurder and the violation of the bodies of young pregnant women. So, you know, rough chuckles...

In the end, the Brainchildren turn on Dr.Strangeglove and render him a drooling idiot, and are then taken into custody of the U.S.Army which I'm sure will, you know, end super-well for everyone involved. Whatever the case, it means that the Brainchildren are, at the very least, still floating around out there in case anyone ever wants to bring back a menace which wets itself.

2 comments:

John Longenbaugh said...

Wow. Rough chuckles indeed. One of your best in a while, good sir--and you've had some pretty good 'uns. There's a weird adolescent groping in these late 70s comics where they're trying to establish a tone that works, and in the meantime...Brainchildren.

Thanks as always for the snarky brilliance.

John Longenbaugh said...

Wow. Rough chuckles indeed. One of your best in a while, good sir--and you've had some pretty good 'uns. There's a weird adolescent groping in these late 70s comics where they're trying to establish a tone that works, and in the meantime...Brainchildren.

Thanks as always for the snarky brilliance.

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