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The Metal Men

comic book cover
When I was growing up reading comic books, I keenly remember the Metal Men. The DC comic was created by writer Robert Kanigher, penciller Ross Andru, and inker Mike Esposito and featured genius scientist Will Magnus and his six artificially intelligent androids.

metal men intro
The team leader was Gold, the muscle was Iron. There was hot-tempered Mercury, dim-witted Lead (he was dense, get it?), insecure Tin (the tin cry, science is so damn funny), and, the sole female in the team, lustrous Platinum. Platinum was in love with Dr. Magnus and thought she was a real woman (creepy, considering Dr. Magnus created her like that). Besides having personalities that matched their namesake elements, each android had abilities that also matched their names. For example, Iron was strong and Lead could shield against radiation. Mercury, being a liquid at room temperature, could pass through small openings. Gold, Platinum, and Tin were malleable and ductile.

Dr. Magnus flustered
To my delight, each one of their adventures was like a little chemistry lesson. Like when they battled with the sinister Gas Gang!

comic book cover
I remember the major thing that really irked me about the Metal Men was the choice of symbols on their chests. Instead of using the symbols found on the periodic table of elements, which are, ahem, the official symbols determined by the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry, the symbols that were chosen instead are alchemical symbols. And even then, only four of the six symbols are correct:

  • Gold, okay (☉ is the symbol for the Sun)
  • Mercury, okay (☿ is the symbol for, uh, Mercury)
  • Iron, okay (♂ is for Mars)
  • Tin, okay (♃ is for Jupiter)
  • Lead, not okay (♄ is for Saturn, not L)
  • Platinum, not okay (☽☉, not P)

The first five metals are associated with those seven classical “planets” that were visible to the naked eye, with only silver and copper not chosen for some reason. I am guessing that the letters L and P were used for Lead and Platinum, respectively, because they were much easier to draw and, in the case of Platinum, wouldn’t be confused with the symbol for Gold. Anyway, Platinum did not display her symbol on her curvaceous chest. I can only imagine how the use of ☽☉ would have worked out if she did.

If they had used the IUPAC symbols found on the periodic table, the symbols would have been:

  • Gold (Au, from the Latin aurum)
  • Mercury (Hg, from the Latin hydrargyrus or “water silver”)
  • Iron (Fe, from the Latin ferrum)
  • Tin (Sn, Latin stannum)
  • Lead (Pb, Latin plumbum)
  • Platinum (Pt, Spanish platina or “little silver”)

Row! Row! Fight The Power!

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann

Row! Row! Fight the power! is from the Japanese mecha anime series Gurren Lagann (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann天元突破グレンラガン, “Pierce the heavens, Gurren Lagann”).

Gurren Lagann is on a future Earth ruled by the Spiral King Lordgenome. Lordgenome forces humans to survive underground in isolated groups. Two teenagers named Simon and Kamina dream of going to the surface. Using a mecha known as a Gunmen, Simon and Kamina escape to the surface. Kamina hijacks another Gunmen and names it Gurren Lagann. Then, they begin fighting Lordgenome’s beastmen army along with other humans.

The lyrics are actually translated as Raw! Raw! Fight the power! on the anime series’ original soundtrack and are found in three different songs:

Do the impossible!
See the invisible!
Raw! Raw!
Fight the power!

Touch the untouchable!
Break the unbreakable!
Raw! Raw!
Fight the power!

The lyrics gained another context when they also became associated with the imageboards of 4chan.

Last September 10, Moot changed the layout of the random board /b/ so that every new post was replaced by the phrase Row Row Fight The Powah, because of the start of the Large Hadron Collider. The /b/ users started spreading this phrase to other 4chan boards such as the Japan/General board /jp/ and the travel board /trv/ in an enthusiastic effort to popularize the phrase. However, the phrase did not receive much of a following from the other boards and, in fact, several of them tried to resist the invasion, especially the video games board /v/. The /v/ retaliation became known as V-rage.

The 4chan civil war between /b/ and /v/ was depicted, at first, in a Rage Vs. Cancer webcomic by 3-Angled-Blue, followed by an Adobe Flash version of the comic, and, finally, uploaded as a video to YouTube: