Machine Man – Vol. 1, Issue 1 – April 1978 (Marvel Comics)

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TITLE: Machine Man – Vol. 1, Issue 1

YEAR: April 1978

COMPANY: Marvel Comics

Edited, Written and Drawn by Jack Kirby

Lettered and Inked by Mike Rover

Colored by Petra G.

Letterer: Michael Delepine

Enjoyed by Archie G.

Back in 1976, Jack Kirby wrote and penciled the comic adaptation of the 1968 Stanley Kubrick film “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

A comic series that expanded the story featured in the film and marked Kirby’s return to Marvel.  In that series, with issue #8, Kirby introduced Mister Machine, an advanced robot that is designated as X-51.  As many of the robots in the X Series go on a rampage and achieve sentience, they are hunted down by the army.   X-51 who loved his creator Dr. Abel Stack gains sentience but is not a murderous robot.  And as he takes on the name Aaron Stack, he tries to blend into humanity.

This issue lasted until the 10th issue of “2001: A Space Odyssey” but the storyline would continue in 1978 with the series “Machine Man” which would last nine issues total for its first volume but the character would appear in “The Incredible Hulk”.  “Machine Man” would receive another go ahead, continuing with issue #10 featuring writing by Marv Wolfman (and Tom DeFalco) and artist Steve Ditko and would last through issue #19.

The series would find new life in 1984-1985 with a four-pissue miniseries written by Tom DeFalco and artwork by Herb Trimpe and Barry Windsor-Smith and would take place in the future (2020) with the reassembly of the Machine Man.  And in 1999, a new series would begin titled “X-51” but this time reconstructed by Sentinel-based nanotechnology and now he goes after mutants.

I enjoyed the series as a child and reading it again over 35-years later, the storyline is quite campy.

As Machine Man is hiding out near forests and mountains and what do you know, people in the area get into deep trouble until Machine Man comes to rescue them.

While sentient, good-natured but also very naive, it’s interesting when he helps a man in the forest, who kindly gives him a rid.  The man, Spalding, reveals himself to be a psychiatrist and when he tries to help Machine Man, needless to say there communication with each other becomes a little heated.

Needless to say, once Machine Man makes it into public and him hoping he can fit in with humanity, the military who has orders to destroy the last remaining X Series robot is hot after the trail of Machine Man.

But what happens when the military confronts the Machine Man?

Needless to say, for a child to read a story about another machine, unlike Tony Stark in his Iron Man armor, Machine Man is a sentient being who wants to be accepted by society.  But doesn’t realize how people would perceive of him being different because of all the technology within him.  From the ability to stretch out his arms, change his feet to a skateboard and pretty much not being a true human, his naivety could get him into deep trouble.

Overall, an entertaining, campy (which fits that ’70s style of storytelling) but enjoyable storyline from the legendary Jack Kirby.


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