Monday, September 14, 2009

1984 – Machine Man miniseries


Machine Man 4 issue miniseries
Writer: Tom DeFalco (issue # co-plotted by Barry Windsor-Smith)
Artist(s): HerbTrimpe (breakdowns) and Barry Windsor-Smith (finished art)

Jack Kirby’s creation, Machine Man, first appeared in the movie tie-in 2001: A Space Odyssey #8. Machine Man earned his own series in early 1978, but it would be canceled after 19 issues. All you really need to know is that Machine Man is the only survivor of a secret US military robot project. Machine Man eluded the US military and did he best to become human, which were his creator’s final words who had died saving him.

This limited series takes place in a distopian, corporate future, where a group of technology raiders, known as the "Midnight Wreckers" recover the disassembled remains of Machine Man from a Baintronics dump. They reassemble him and reactivate Machine Man. He makes an immediate impact helping defeat the Baintronics agents sent to capture the Wreckers. Machine Man finds his older partner Gears Gavin alive and leading the raiders against Baintronics. Machine Man joins their cause and confronts Sunset Bain, who pits Arno Stark, the Iron Man of 2020 after him. Machine Man defeats Stark and forces Bain to capitulate. He discovers that Jocasta is still alive, but serving Bain.

The future in which this story takes place has not been set as the “true” Marvel Universe future and should be considered an alternate future. The plot is awkward and had little character development. It seemed like all Machine Man did was react to what was going on around him, rather than take on any kind of role where he would search out for a place in this new world. Machine Man’s quest to become human, or at least accepted as human, was completely ignored.

DeFalco didn’t really handle either of the relationship very well, such as the conflict between Bain and Machine Man or Machine Man and Jocasta. DeFalco also ignores the rest of the Marvel Universe in this future which might have served to liven up the story and add some depths to it. Unfortunately, the new supporting characters are stereotypes and quickly forgotten. This story seemed to have all the proper ingredients, but they just were mixed together and used to their potential.

The finished art by Barry Windsor-Smith is breathtaking and lavish and rises above Trimpe’s stiff breakdowns.

11 comments:

  1. I recently reread this series about a year ago and I agree on the story, but your right the art is amazing. As a kid I remember the art so vividly. The 4 covers starting with Machine man's head disassemble to the 4th cover fully assembled was incredible looking. While it's not the best work that BWS has done you can definitely see a lot of the same style in his later Weapon X project from the Early 90's.

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  2. I appreciate your reviews. The 80's was a special time for me as well. The Machine Man mini was like a lost jewel. It can really stand on its own and holds up very well. After this series, the 2020 Iron Man was pretty popular for a while and kept showing up. A good prelude to this mini (if you like Machine Man and Jocasta) is Marvel Two-in-One 92 and 93.

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  3. Thanks for the kind words and the comments.

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  4. wow, windsor-smiths' finishes are so heavy it scarcely even resembles trimpe's art. probably for the better.

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  5. Yeah, no kidding. It was like Trimpe did the layouts for him rather than the penciled art.

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  6. I just ordered this in trade format and am looking forward to the read.

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  7. Pretty much feel the same way, inspired art, mediocre script. The art is so good one wonders what it would be like if Smith worked with on the same scenerio but with someone like Alan Moore. Why hasn't something like this occurred yet? Haven't read much of Windsor Smith's stuff but it seems he's mismatched writing wise.

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  8. just seeing this post for the first time. regardless of whatever imperfections this mini series had it was all worth it just to get to the epic show down between the future IRON MAN and Machine Man. it was one of the best throw downs in Marvel hitory.

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  9. Is that the same Machine Man from the Earth X mini series, there known as X-51?
    I might check this one out for my cyberpunk needs, thanks for the article!

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  10. Hey Merigui, yes, X-51 is Machine Man of this miniseries.

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  11. In my opinion Barry Smith artistic peak was back on the early 70 were he drew the first 24 issues of Conan, i liked this Machine Man series, but Weapon X art, is at times rushed, and the background art is nowhere near as detailed as the work Smith did on Conan.

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