|"DON'T ... MESS ... WITH ... MY ... CHICK!"|
I've had the opportunity to write about a Golden Age robot hero who seemed to yearn for murder and crave the culling of life from mortal men, by which I mean Quality Comics' Bozo the Iron Man/Bozo the Robot. Well, he's not the only one. I bring to you the creature whose introductory caption proclaims "a great new hero you'll never forget*," Mekano!
|You don't gotta tell him twice.|
Mekano is a sideshow apparatus and the favorite nickel-admission attraction for one young Tommy Clark. When Tommy earns the ire of some sort of roughneck type (this is in an era where roughnecks wore full suits but they used "ain't" so they must be bad) who dislikes Mekano ("Shut up dope!" Tommy exclaims, predicting Twitter by several decades, "Don't you know real science when you see it?"), it's young scientists Bill Foster who steps in to save him from a beating. The fight is covered by eager young newspaper reporters Sandra Kent, and it is literally astonishing how quickly they put the supporting cast together. Page two and we're rolling.
Bill's goal is to improve Mekano to the point where he's effectively a living, thinking machine. To this end, a surprising amount of the story is given over to Foster trying to drum up funding for his project. Thrilling tales of grant applications, that's what we've got here.
While Bill's trying to get the dosh doled out, Tommy ill-advisedly fucks around with Mekano's controls, sending the robot on a murder-rampage. "Sending," I should say. Mekano was clearly looking for an excuse.
From there, things progress quickly. Mekano's rampage through downtown in curtailed when the rampaging robot "saves" a little girl's life (by not stepping on her, which is what he was about to do. Low standards in this town, when it comes to heroism). Some Nazi spies -- fans of crushing children, historically -- decide to abduct Mekano and make an army of child-crushing solder robots for the Fatherland.
|For certain definitions of "Saved."|
Foster and Mekano are abducted by the Nazis, Tommy and Sandra find a way to tag along, and within German HQ Foster sneakily works to improve Mekano's remote controls while simultaneously appearing to fulfill the Nazi's wish to create an unstoppable murder machine. I mean, he is making a murder machine, it's just not gonna murder who the Nazis think it's gonna murder.
It all ends with Mekano (under the direction of Bill and Tommy) wrecking the Nazi invasion of Old Blighty, literally pushing a building over onto an entire Nazi platoon, wrecking their tanks, and saving Sandra from the evil General von Lutz. A final panel of a leering Mekano, his mouth a grinning death rictus of razor sharp fangs, apparently depicting that the robot has 'fallen in love' with Sandra, is an unsettling-as-a-motherfucker outro for this story. Maybe I will forget Mekano after all, except in my nightmares.