On the surface this comic has so many things going for it. Created by Jack Kriby. Drawn by Steve Ditko. The first appearance of a villain.
I'd stop there if I was you. This is one of the worst, most boring, artistically lame comics I have ever read. Surely you would think I am describing a DC comic, but no, this horrid adventure is to be blamed solely on Marvel.
Most comics I can pick up and burrow through. This issue took three or four attempts. Reading it gave me panic attacks and more than once I had to put it down to get some air.
The comic starts out great! X-51 and Jack O' Lantern battle on a nice credit splash page. Who needs 3-D? I can practically reach out and shake hands with Machine Man!
I wouldn't turn the page if I were you, as it's all down hill from here.
The issue begins with Aaron Stack aka MACHINE MAN aka X-51 very upset. His face was mangled in the previous issue while fighting Madame Menace and ALPHA FLIGHT.
Machine Man is exactly that. He's a machine, with very human emotions and personality.
He is distraught as his mask was mangled. Even though it is used to cover his true robot face, he has become attached to it. In many ways it is how he truly sees himself. As a man, not a machine.
While his buddy Gears Garvin repairs it, Dr. Peter Spaulding tries to calm X-51.
Elsewhere, a group of self proclaimed toughest thugs there are, wait for their boss: JACK O' LANTERN.
In case his cronies were not aware, Jack does us a favor by speaking of himself aloud. This allows the reader to gain insight on this maniacal menace.
He's an "Ex government freak". A terrorist too terrible for nations to hire him. With the formalities over, it's time to test his men. He mashes them up good, but they are still worthy to serve him.
The next morning, X-51 returns and his face is ready. Good, cuz it's time to go to work! Aaron Stack has a job at Delmar Insurance.
Already it's a soap opera. Men are jealous of him. He likes Pam. Pam doesn't care. Some other lady likes Aaron but, he has no clue.
The boss has a special assignment for Machine Man. There is a new super-embassy where people all around the world plan on attending a Halloween costume party.
Aaron Stack is given a tour as any insurance man who showed up at the front door surely would. The facility has some serious security.
As he leaves, Machine Man recognizes someone outside taking pictures. It's Geoff Peckman, notorious gangster!
This must be investigated but, it's not something for Aaron Stack. No, this is a mission for Z2P45-9-X-51. (That's his full serial number name.)
Without a place to change clothes, X-51 improvises. He uses anti-grav, floats into a tree, and changes there.
Good a place as any I guess. But, if he was going for inconspicuous, why float around in broad daylight? And why that high up in the tree? The bottom was just as bushy. Aaaah, who am I to compare wits with a super android mind?
Machine Man attaches himself to the gangster's car and is brought to the bad guys hideout.
X-51 goes to the roof and spies on the plans being created below. Uh-Oh ... Jack O' Lantern and his goons are up to no good.
Machine Man decides the best thing to do is to call the police and let them handle this.
Unfortunately, the roof must be made of the same straw the three little pigs used as it is incredibly weak.
Machine Man's 850lb body is too much strain and causes the structure to break. (Okay, I know 850 is a lot for a human to weigh, but certainly a building can support that much. Hey, maybe not. Let's chalk it up to poor design.)
Before he can react, Machine Man is attacked and suffers a decent beat down. This leads to the most artistically interesting panel in the comic, where he gets "KWAK-ED".
Machine Man gets up to find his attackers long gone. And worse, his face got messed up again.
Time is of the essence. He can't get it fixed as pursuing the bad guys is more important. He takes to the roof tops as he does not want anyone to see his mangled face mask.
Gears Garvin and Dr. Spaulding worry about x-51.
Machine Man feels all alone and reminisces about his creation. An editor's note shows us that he was created in issue #8 of "2001" A Space Odyssey.
Good thing it's Halloween as the first two people x-51 sees are two kids dressed up as Superman and Batman.
The trick-or-treaters have poor manners as all DC fans do, and they are disrespectful to their elders. Suspicious of him, they call Machine Man a creep after he offers them some money.
Luckily, no other adults were around, because to the kid's defense, it is a weird situation.
Phew! Machine man only wnted to buy the Superman mask.
Inside, Aaron's co-workers ridicule his lame costume. Pam pulls off his mask and everyone is stunned to see his true robotic face.
Once again, it's a good thing it's Halloween as they all assume that the metal face is his real costume.
Jack O' Lantern begins to instill his plan. He takes out some guards, and gains access of the control room. Sealing off every room, he now has hostages. Too bad X-51 is locked in here as well because he has his own plans.
Copying a play from Star Wars' R2D2, Machine Man uses a connector on his finger to hack into the mainframe.
He overloads the computer but, Jack O' Lantern finds him and they start fighting. The battle that ensues is okay. The two trade blows while Jack pogos around the room.
Machine Man magnetizes Jack O' Lantern causes a concussion bomb to go off rendering ol' pumpkin-head unconscious.
Machine Man leaves unthanked by those he saved. He meets up with Gears Garvin who repairs damaged circuitry. Machine Man is unsure if he wants to go to work at Delmar again aand the issue ends with him pondering life while staring at the moon.
After writing this synopsis, it didn't seem that bad. Was I just in a foul mood? Was this issue actually good? I mean, Steve Ditko drew this!!!!
Reading the letters column confirms my anger and ... panic attacks. (I could not have said it better myself. Thanks for the affirmation Gary!)
I can't help but wonder if this was intended for children. Many of Marvel's comics were geared towards adults leaving kids out of the mix.
I discovered this when reading an article about Marvel's Godzilla comic.
I had a tough time reading the Godzilla comics as well this issue of Machine Man (though not nearly as painful).
It was not until I read "BACK ISSUE" magazine that I found out I Godzilla was geared towards a younger audience.