Death Metal is a 1993 comic miniseries published by the Marvel UK imprint of Marvel Comics. It's written by Simon Furman and illustrated by John Royle and Robin Riggs, with color art by Sophie Heath, Louise Cassell and Euan Peters.
The titular Death Metal is first introduced in Death³, as the most advanced (and most powerful) of the various Minion cyborgs created by the villainous Dr Necker. Death Metal is made from the mystical living metal Prometheum, giving him a mutable liquid metal form.
Like his two predecessors, Death's Head II and Death Wreck, he abandoned his creator and went rogue. Unlike his predecessors, he did this immediately after being activated, due to some level of Artifact Domination - the Prometheum used for his body came from servants of the demonic Magitek entity Charnel and its murderous influence warped his thinking.
Later in the Death³ series, Death Metal was shocked back to sanity by the Ghost Rider's mystic penance stare. Allied with his two predecessors, he then defeated Charnel, at which point the three amicably parted ways.
The Death Metal series picks up some time later, with the revelation that the Ghost Rider's cure was only temporary. Death Metal has lost control and slipped back into his murderous behaviour, an unstoppable, mindless berserker who's now killed entire worlds.
When another intervention lets his mind surface again, he has to face what he's done. And then he has to decide if he can keep living or if - for the greater good - Death Metal needs to die. But if he does, just how does an unstoppable killing machine who cannot self-terminate actually die?
In parallel with that, other forces are also becoming aware of his recent rampage. And they're impressed. Death Metal may want to change his behaviour, but they like him just as he is. Although perhaps he'd be even better if he directly worked for them...
The first issue was released November 23 1993. The last issue (#4) was released February 22 1994.
Death Metal contains the following tropes:
- Aborted Arc: Abysss's plotting against Death Metal is abruptly written off in a way that reduces it all to a "Shaggy Dog" Story, with the Soul Slug he created seemingly a What Happened to the Mouse?.
- Admiring the Abomination: Justified. Rathcoole is very impressed by Death Metal and is forming plans to take control of him. Although it doesn't come up in the series, previous stories establish that he's probably one of the few people Death Metal can't kill; his bargain with Mephisto means that he's immortal and Time Stands Still for him when hes at risk of harm.
- Arm Cannon: Death Metal's Prometheum body can manifest them. Argon is apparently the first person to survive a direct hit since Death Metal's rampage began.
- Assimilation Backfire: A positive example. Like his predecessor Death's Head II, Death Metal is potentially a Mind Hive. But he hasn't actually absorbed personalities yet. Absorbing Argon helps to win the battle against the Enemy Within and halt Death Metal's Unstoppable Rage.
- Big Bad: Rathcoole, who wants to use a mindwiped Death Metal as his new bodyguard and enforcer. Its originally hinted to be a Big Bad Duumvirate, but Abysss's arc diverts into a "Shaggy Dog" Story.
- Blade Below the Shoulder: Death Metal often reshapes his hands into blades or spikes.
- Civilization Destroyer: Death Metal himself. The first issue reveals that he's killed the inhabitants of six worlds since losing control.
- Cosmic Chess Game: Downplayed, but this seems to be the case with Abysss and Argon's father. Abysss seeks to consume reality, leaving an empty void. Argon's father seeks to preserve it.
- Death Seeker: Several of the cast are seeking death at various points, for a range of different reasons.
- Death Metal fears the carnage he'll cause if he loses control again, so believes he must die for the greater good.
- Spirit specifically wants to die at the hands of Death Metal, for what seem to be religious reasons.
- Brassknuckles has died before, but it doesn't last. His cyborg body is rebuilt (by self-repair or his superiors) and he keeps coming back. It's implied that this has shaken his sanity and now he's actively seeking death, partly just for kicks.
- Elite Mooks: Downplayed. Mys-Tech's Psycho Warriors usually fill this role, but against Death Metal they're basically just normal mooks.
- Establishing Team Shot: The series ends with one of Death Metal, Spirit and Brassknuckles.
- Eye Beams: One of Death Metal's offensive options.
- Half the Man He Used to Be:
- In the final issue, Death Metal cuts Mys-Tech wizard Tyburn in half at the waist. Her regenerative abilities and magical immortality mean that's just a temporary inconvenience, though.
- The combined powers of five of the Mys-Tech board also briefly cut Death Metal in half, although he's closer to a metal puddle when his body hits the ground. He's back on his feet a few seconds later, as usual.
- Happy Ending Override: In Death³, the Ghost Rider's penance stare broke the demonic influence over Death Metal and restored his free will. It turns out that was temporary, and he's now killed entire worlds since he relapsed.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Death Metal's programming won't let him directly kill himself. Unfortunately, as he and Alpha Flight discover, it's also smart enough to override his mind if he attempts to deliberately allow a Suicide by Cop death.
- My Nayme Is: The demon Abysss, with an extra s. Whereas his realm is also described as an abyss, but with the usual spelling.
- Out-of-Character Moment: A minor one, but the first issue has Death's Head II refer to himself by that name. In-universe he is normally simply Death's Head.
- Punny Name: Not commented on in-universe, but he's called Death Metal.
- Saying Too Much: Death's Head rants to himself about his clashes with A.I.M. and Necker while in modern Manhattan intercepting a stolen Secret Empire exoskeleton that's being delivered to them. In doing so, he alerts Rathcoole, who's monitoring the battle, to the existence of Death Metal.
- "Shaggy Dog" Story: The para-demon Abysss is watching events from his empty realm, determined to keep Death Metal in his state of murderous Unstoppable Rage. To do so, he creates a new minion - the Soul Slug - to purge Argon's influence from Death Metal's mind. But the Soul Slug never encounters him or interacts with the story. And Abysss's only subsequent interaction is when Death Metal opens a portal to dispose of a bomb in the final issue, randomly dropping it in Abysss's dimension and catching him in the blast.
- Shoulder Cannon: One of the weapons that Death Metal can manifest.
- Suicide by Cop: Once he's regained control in Toronto, Death Metal attempts suicide by Alpha Flight, hoping the Canadian superheroes will be able and willing to destroy him. Unfortunately, his I Cannot Self-Terminate programming kicks in when it looks like they might win.
- Unnamed Parent: Argon's father is never named in the story.
- Unstoppable Rage: The aim of Death Metal's Enemy Within. When he loses control it will kill everything, then move to a new location and kill everything there as well. And it's been doing this on a planetary scale.
- Well-Intentioned Extremist: Argon's manipulative father, who's sending him to confront Death Metal in the certain knowledge that he'll be slain, but believes that this will also halt Death Metal's rampage and help to save the universe.
- What Happened to the Mouse?:
- Abysss creates the Soul Slug to tear the conscience out of Death Metal's mind, but it's never seen again.
- "Interlude 3", in issue #2, shows a war hero saving a crashing spaceship (and apparently surviving space without a sealed suit). He's not named, doesn't seem to be an earlier version of Brassknuckles, and never appears again.
- Spirit is worshipping at a statue of Death Metal when she's first introduced. The backstory behind this (implied to be a time loop) is never explained.
- Wide-Eyed Idealist: Argon, champion of the Few. The valiant warrior who's been training to defeat Death Metal. And the Unwitting Pawn in his father's Xanatos Gambit.