cover image The Last Mechanical Monster

The Last Mechanical Monster

Brian Fies. Abrams ComicArts, $24.99 (192p) ISBN 978-1-4197-5612-2

This touching, delight-filled fable from Eisner-award winner Fies (A Fire Story) features a mad scientist whose reformation comes at the hands of the same humanity he vowed vengeance upon, and from the care of his sole remaining battle robot. A savvy take on a sequel to the 1941 Superman cartoon “The Mechanical Monsters,” it tackles classic themes: the drive to be remembered, the battle against aging and failing, and friendship. Confused by modern society, the scheming scientist is aided by people he becomes dependent on: Ted the bus driver who ferries him to his mountain lair, Helen the librarian who introduces him to the internet and eBay bidding for electronic parts, and Lillian, an electronics expert who is drawn deeper into his plans to resurrect his robot army. His giant robot, meanwhile, comforts him like a nursemaid. Slowly and reluctantly, through relationships with the automaton and human crew, the madman’s fiery genius is tempered and he ends up fighting to save his friends from his own evil scheme. Fies’s animation-style artwork recalls C.C. Beck and Scott McCloud, and of course the film The Iron Giant with its clean sharp lines highlighted by the bright colors of a Golden Age comic book. Bonus pages in back matter are designed to be cut out, glued, and assembled into a paper model of a mechanical monster. This one’s an absolute wonder. (Oct.)