Joe Casey and Ulises Fariñas tell an entertaining and funny adventure. Fans of metal will get a kick out of all the references to bands such as Metallica and Iron Maiden. Melody Often's colors make the comic feel like eye candy. Rus Wooton also deserves a special mention for some excellent lettering work.
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The summer season is prime for blockbuster films. In comics that translates into bombastic adventure series. NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1, by Joe Casey and Ulises Fariñas, is the definition of a blockbuster comic. It features high-octane action; colorful, cartoon-y art; and a cast of characters worthy of the comic’s metal namesake. This series is a mix of VOLCANO TRASH, THE A-TEAM, and TRANSFORMERS, so you’re in for a treat! Also, you can expect plenty of nods to superhero comics by Rob Liefeld, Jim Lee, and Marc Silvestri — to name a few. In short, this is one epic show you won’t want to miss.

Courtesy of Image Comics

A Rocking Adventure

NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1 follows the titular band of bad asses who are the defenders of earth. Namely, the Lieutenants are: Krieg, the fearless leader; Spike an anthropomorphic panda who’s the brains/mascot; Vanderborg Riot, the African-American cyborg; and Steppenwulf, the roadie werewolf. Also, there’s a fifth member, Manowarrior, who’s missing.

Initially, the story begins as Steppenwulf is in the middle of a therapy session to control his werewolf side. Apparently, this is humorously a rehab institution for metal addicts. However, Steppenwulf’s session is cut short when the Lieutenants’ mobile base of operations, the Metal Jet, crashes it. As a result, Steppenwulf reunites with the Lieutenants because downtown is under attack by sentient giant monster trucks. Thus, it’s up to the Lieutenants to save the day in the name of metal.

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NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1 does a great job of setting up the characters and wastes no time with action. The plot is entertaining and funny with a tongue-in-cheek narrator. The action features chaos that would make Michael Bay proud. In addition, the cliffhanger sets up the series’ big bad, Boy Band Nation, a 90s boy band with stylish dance moves. It’s also worth mentioning that this series contains a playlist of three metal songs which enhances the reading experience.

Courtesy of Image Comics

Team Work Makes the Dream Work

As mentioned before, NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1 features a cast of diverse, charming characters. For instance, Krieg is gender-fluid, with unknown superhuman abilities. This character is refreshing because it’s not often that we see non-binary superheroes, let alone one that’s a metal head. Spike is a Chinese-American panda who immigrated to America after an alien encounter. However, Steppenwulf is the outlier who feels insecure about his wild side and questions his usefulness to the team. This makes Steppenwulf a character that people can relate to because he’s been out of the game for quite some time.

That said, the Lieutenants play quite well off each other, as there’s clearly a sense of camaraderie among them. For example, Krieg humorously calls Spike their “metal mascot” and barks orders at him. Naturally, this offends Spike who quips back that just because Krieg has a fetish for panda bears, it doesn’t give Krieg any right to call them mascots. Then, Krieg immediately changes the subject to the mission at hand. While it’s a brief exchange, it serves to highlight some of the rapid-fire banter between the team.

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Fariñas’ Art is Delightfully Excellent

Artist Ulises Fariñas does the world of NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1 justice. True to his cartoon style, in this series Fariñas’ characters are geometric but expressive. Indeed, Fariñas’ art feels energetic and brims with details such as a metal CD and related metal culture accessories in the beginning of the story. Later, Fariñas makes use of two-page spreads to show off the Lieutenants in their full glory for maximum superhero cheese. However, the action scene with the Lieutenants fighting the trucks is the highlight of this issue. Fariñas makes excellent use of scale to show how small the Lieutenants look in comparison to the monster trucks. In addition, Fariñas’ panels feel kinetic with the Lieutenants attacking and flying through the sky on their sawblade gliders.

Courtesy of Image Comics

It also needs to be noted that colorist Melody Often and letterer Rus Wooton do fantastic work in this issue. Notably, Often colors Fariñas’ art with bright, vibrant colors, which gives the series an exhilarating, adventurous feel. It is such a delight to watch colors such as blue, red, green, yellow, and orange pop out of panels. This lends to NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1’s cartoon style as it feels animated. Also, Rus Wooten’s letters add charm and reinforce the fact that this series is influenced by superhero comics. All in all, Often’s and Wooton’s contributions are a joy to watch unfold.

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Closing Comments on NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1

Overall, NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1 is an excellent romp to read. Thanks to a hilarious, brisk-paced plot, the cliffhanger offers enough intrigue for the next issue. Meanwhile, the  Lieutenants play so incredibly well off each other that it’s endearing. It will be exciting to see the Lieutenants and the Boy Band Nation clash in upcoming issues. Come for the action and zany characters and prepare to rock!

Joe Casey and Ulises Fariñas couldn’t have have been a more excellent pair. It’s clear that the creators had fun putting together this love letter to metal and superhero comics. Like a good popcorn flick, NEW LIEUTENANTS OF METAL #1 revels in being fun and runs away with it. You definitely won’t want to miss this mini-series!


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