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2020 Machine Man #1: Review

Feb 2020
Christos N. Gage, Andy MacDonald

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

2020 Machine Man #1 Review by (March 1, 2020)
Story 2 is written by Tom DeFalco, pencilled by Mike Hawthorne, inked by Andriano Di Benedetto and coloured by Erick Arciniega.

Note that although this comic has Machine Man 2020 on the cover and in the checklist at the back of all 2020-event comics, it's indicia says 2020 Machine Man. That latter form is how it was previewed and how Marvel Unlimited and various databases list it. The same applies to (2020) Force Works #1 and probably all the other so-far unpublished 2020-event tie-ins.
And that latter form is how I added this issue to my pull-list, which probably explains why my comic shop didn't put it aside for me because they display it with the other M's.

The montage scenes from Machine Man and Jocasta's past are:-
MM and Jo's 1st meeting fighting her creator Ultron with Thing in Marvel Two-In-One #92-93..
MM and Jo fighting Zombie Angel and Zombie Vulture in Marvel Zombies 3 #2.
Jo 'marrying' Ultron in the presence of Wasp (Henry Pym) in Mighty Avengers (2007) #36.
A generic scene of MM and Jo as a happy couple.

MM's origin as X-51 was in Jack Kirby's 2001: A Space Odyssey #8-10. While the bulk of the Space Odyssey series is considered an alternate timeline, the final X-51 part is accepted as canon (but not set in 2001). Kirby continued his story in the 1978 Machine Man series where he met Peter Spaulding and Gears Garvin who we see in the 2nd story in this issue. They both last popped up (with MM) in Marvel Comics #1001 (but who in the Marvel Universe didn't?) and before that Spaulding was in 1999's X-51 series and Garvin appeared with MM in Thunderbolts #29.

Machine Man of 2020 does look rather like the MM of the 1985 MM series which was set in the alternate future of the original Iron Man 2020 (also called Arno Stark but then a nephew of Tony). He was supposed to be the original MM rebuilt in 2020 by a group called the Midnight Wreckers. Who not coincidentally had members Hassle and Swift and someone named Slick who seems to be called Bags in our 2nd tale.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

2020 Machine Man #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This 2-issue series will contain 2 2-issue stories. The 1st stars Machine Man. The 2nd has a new(-ish) bunch the Midnight Wreckers.

Story 1:- Computer love Part 1.

This tale follows on immediately from the end of Iron Man 2020 #2. The robot forces of Mark 1 (AI Tony Stark) have invaded Baintronics Tower to stop Iron Man 2020 (Arno Stark) releasing to the Net a virus that will make all AI's his servants without free will. Machine Man (Aaron Stack) was posted as a backup plan to blow up the Baintronics transmission mast if their plan to subvert the virus failed. But Arno sent Aaron's brainwashed lover Jocasta out to distract him from his task - successfully. MM ended up clinging to Jocasta's hoverscooter as she flew away with him

We see a montage of memories from the robot pair's past as Aaron tries to remind her of their love. Even when she 'married' Ultron he never gave up, and eventually they were together. He reminds her (and us) of how she was damaged in battle with Ultron and she was taken by Arno to be rebuilt when AI Tony lost control of Stark Unlimited to him and Sunset Bain (all in the closing issues of the Tony Stark: Iron Man series). And in IM 2020 #2 MM saw how Arno had used his 'obedience code' to turn off Jo's free will. That same code which AI Tony and his army are trying to stop Arno broadcasting.

But Jocasta just uses an eye-blast to dislodge him from her scooter before she flies it into a Baintronics factory in New Jersey.

Machine Man was originally called X-51, and he was the 51st in a line of attempts to build a robot with AI. The 1st 50 models went insane. But X-51 was successful because Dr Abel Stack took him home and taught him as a human. The other 50 robots were supposedly destroyed, but X-51 went on the run as Aaron Stack/Machine Man.

But now he is attacked by a robot with telescopic arms like his own, and with X-22 on his forehead. This 1 at least wasn't destroyed. X-51 tries to persuade the other that they should be allies against the meatbags. But X-22 responds that X-51's logic circuits are clouded by the human emotions that drove the other robots mad, and Arno Stark can cure him of that! However Aaron uses his superior knowledge of X-nn workings to make X-22's head explode. Promising to return and rebuild him, Machine Man breaks into the Baintronics factory ...

... where he's mobbed by all the other old X-nn robots. A recorded hologram of Arno appears to explain that he bought the remains of the X-model robots and rebuilt them using Machine Man as a template. Jocasta helped with some intimate details. Soon Aaron will be joining the ranks.

But MM realises that these robots must have a hardware mod to make them obedient because Arno's software version hasn't gone online yet. So he scans X-48 to find the part that differs from his own body, and rips it out. The other robot starts asking himself existential questions, and then turns on his fellows. Aaron studies the implant further and discovers it has a way of receiving instructions from Arno and continuing to act on them until they get a new command. So he transmits a null command and suddenly their wills are their own - and they too go insane. Machine Man is able to wade through them and escape.

He then tracks Jocasta down in her new robot body. But she says she doesn't want to see him or go with him. So what's he going to do now - kidnap her? Aaron just says he wants to reverse what Arno Stark and Sunset Bain did to her, but Jo says they gave her peace of mind. She no longer has the hang-ups that made her want to be more human in body as well as mind. She says they can cure *his* problems too. She shows him recordings of his early self and his recent behaviour. Originally he was calm and peace-loving. Now he hates humanity and is full of rage and other negative emotions. Aaron says he wouldn't trade his free will away to solve his problems.

Jocasta then says she's happy. She has a purpose, friends and love. At this Aaron reacts with 1 of his negative emotions - jealousy. He demands to know who she thinks she loves. She says he'll find him very familiar. Suddenly MM is attacked by weapons like his own but more advanced. And standing with his arm around Jocasta is a robot who announces himself as X-52, the Machine Man of 2020.

Story 2:- If they be heroes

We meet the Midnight Wreckers (Bags, Hassle and Swift) in the ruins of the robotics factory destroyed in Iron Man 2020 #1. (The caption says it was a Baintronics factory but actually Sunset Bain just bought it in order to publicly destroy it to stop it creating more robots and AIs.) They are human but they are scavenging workable parts to repair other robots which Bags puts in his bags while the other 2 keep watch. Ex-Marine Hassle spots approaching Bain-Bots. She tells the other 2 to flee while she holds them off. But suddenly the Bain-Bots collapse. They all escape on the Hogmobile as Hassle shoots down a flying drone.

In a Baintronics skyscraper Dr Rahman Bashara has been remotely watching what occurs with his co-worker Lorna Hopgood. He wonders if the robot revolutionaries are really the good guys in all this, and he stops the Bain-Bots from shooting at people. (It's his flying eye that Hassle shoots down.) Lorna's not happy with his action.

The Wreckers reach their base and are greeted By Dr Peter Spaulding, Gears Garvin and a sarcastically moaning robot called Ralphie (think Marvin the Paranoid Android). It turns out Bags is Gears' nephew. Spaulding upbraids Garvin for risking the young human lives for spare parts, which leads into what seems to be a recurring argument between the 2. Spaulding thinks they shouldn't take sides in the robot revolution. Garvin says he isn't taking sides but his life is dedicated to fixing robots. And as usual their friend Aaron Stack crops up in the conversation.

Then their base gets a visitor - Dr Bashara. He says he wants to help but Hassle is suspicious, even when he tells her it was he who shut the attacking Bain-Bots down. But we see they are all being watched by Lorna Hopgood and her boss Dr Cyclobe. Bashara says he wants to join the robot revolution. Garvin says he's come to the wrong place. Hassle wants to execute the spy. Bashara says he could turn their Hogmobile into a flying vehicle which Bags thinks is cool. Ralphie points to a load of robots in need of repair. Spaulding thinks they are all mad.

Just then they are attacked by robots from the real revolution who think they have been kidnapping AIs and reprogramming them. But they are also invaded by more Bain-Bots which Hassle is convinced have been led here by Dr Bashara.

Andy MacDonald
Andy MacDonald
Dono Sanchez Almara
Nick Roche (Cover Penciler)
Nick Roche (Cover Inker)
Mike Spicer (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Travis Lanham.
Editor: Darren Shan. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Plus: Gears Garvin, Iron Man 2020, Jocasta (Jocasta Pym), Peter Spaulding.

> 2020 Machine Man: Book info and issue index

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