Whether your memories of futuristic robotic boxing come from the classic “Twilight Zone” episode, “Steel,” or director Sean Levy’s entertaining 2007 sci-fi flick, “Real Steel,” there’s no denying that watching androids is battling with other fighting machines or brave humans is an exhilarating sight that few can resist.
Tapping into our natural gladiator urges, a new five-issue comic book miniseries from Image/Top Cow puts nimble robot athletes in the ring with enhanced Homo sapiens brawlers to determine the ultimate champion.
“metal company (opens in a new tab)is written by Zack Kaplan (“Eclipse,” “Port of Earth”) and adorned with dynamic illustrations by rising Brazilian artist Guilherme Balbi (“Aliens,” “Avatar”). The rest of the talented art team are colorists by Marco Lesko (“Blade Runner”, “Chariot”) and lettering by Troy Peteri (“Port of Earth”, “A Man Among Ye”).
The first issue just dropped earlier this month and it comes out strong, with a riveting tale of mega sporting events presented in a monstrous arena and broadcast live around the world to determine the superior species. In a distant world of highly evolved robots, extinct humans have been brought back to life for manual labor and to earn the right to enter society via brutal boxing contests.
Described as “Blade Runner” meets “Rocky”, “Metal Society” delivers a serious uppercut of thrilling MMA-style fights when a tribalist culture clash erupts, forcing a fierce fighter named Rosa Genthree and a displaced robot to fight to find what is the dominant race: man or machine?
Check out our five-page preview of the first issue below:
Image 1 of 8
“I think the inspirations came from themes and things happening in modern society that I was excited to explore,” Kaplan told Space.com. “We’ve all heard the joke that robots are going to take our jobs away from us one day. It seems like technology is moving fast with AI and automation and it’s a real existential situation in the making that we’re dealing with. I thought it was interesting to flip all of that around and use robot drama to show robots who are scared that humans are coming for their jobs in a certain way.
“’Metal Society’ takes us to this future world where robots rule the planet, humans have missed their chance. Robots bring humans back to life and they do the work robots don’t want to do. There is an inherent sociological tension here. It allows me to explore topical situations about tribalisms and how we seem to be more divided as human beings than ever before. We’ve seen sci-fi stories before that look at boxing robots, but this was a chance to do it in a higher, more empowering way.”
Kaplan admits that “Metal Society” was a very ambitious project to find the right artist for.
“We’re doing this whole world creation of a future that’s completely inhabited by all kinds of different robots and futuristic cities, but also the human world where it’s grittier and more earthy,” he added. “So there’s a contrast in this mega-world, a lot of character work and movement and the energy of the boxing drama, and so it was quite a challenge. Guilherme Balbi is relatively new to the band drawn and it had this great sci-fi mix.” fi environments with strong character work. He was delighted to come on board.
“To complete the creative vision, we brought in colorist Marco Lesko, who does the colors for Titan Comics’ ‘Blade Runner’ series. He was comfortable with those dystopian tones and put that evocative emotion behind it. We have talking robots, talking humans and shouting announcers, and our letterer Troy Peteri does an amazing job balancing all the lettering styles required. comics so we can really bring the reader into the world.”
Image/Top Cow “”#1 Metal Company (opens in a new tab)“is available now in comic shops and digital platforms with glossy covers by Qistina Khalidah, Alan Quah, Mateus Manhanini, Fernando Blanco and Marc Silvestri & Alex Sinclair.”Metal Society #2 (opens in a new tab)” enters the ring on June 8.