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2020 Machine Man #2: Review

Mar 2020
Christos N. Gage, Andy MacDonald

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

2020 Machine Man #2 Review by (March 28, 2020)
Story 2 is again written by Tom DeFalco, pencilled by Mike Hawthorne, inked by Andriano Di Benedetto and coloured by Erick Arciniega.

The 1st story in this issue presumably happens before the end of Iron Man 2020 #3. Here Jocasta and X-52 believe Arno Stark's broadcast of the obedience code is going ahead but there Mark 1 (the AI Tony Stark) stops it and destroys the Baintronics comms mast. But they could be lying, or could just not have heard what happened.

Presumably Machine Man gets away at the end because he's free in the 2020 Iron Age 1-shot and advertised to be appearing in IM2020 #4.

The addition of Bashara as Brain completes the analogue of the original Midnight Wreckers in the original Machine Man 2020 mini-series.

The ALA robot leader here will be named as CS-101 in 2020 Iron Age.

Both the stories in this issue will be continued in the Machine Man tale in 2020IA.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

2020 Machine Man #2 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue concludes the 2 stories begun last issue.

Story 1:- Computer love Part 2.

Last issue brainwashed Jocasta lured Machine Man/X-51 away from his post in the Robot Rebellion attack on Baintronics HQ. He fought his way through the previous versions X-1 to X-50 only to find Jocasta with her new lover, his 2020 replacement X-52.

Jocasta has had her free will removed by Arno Stark, and X-52 was built that way. They try to persuade Aaron Stack that he's been driven mad by free will, it's just took longer to affect him than it did his 50 predecessors, and Arno can fix him. Angry X-51 just attacks them, which they take as more evidence of his irrationality. X-52 tries to protect Jocasta, but she says Ultron built her to be able to look after *herself*. X-52 apologises but claims it wasn't gender stereotyping, just his built-in command to protect Bain property.

X-52 shows Aaron some elements from their shared memory databases:-

(From 2001: A Space Odyssey #8) X-51's creator Abel Stack gave him a human-ish face and treated him like a son Aaron in a successful attempt to avoid the madness that claimed the earlier models. When his bosses chose to trigger the self-destruct mechanisms in all 51 robots, Abel removed the bomb from Aaron and was killed when it went off. But now Jocasta says Arno and Sunset Bain love them like Abel loved him. And they want to save Aaron against his will, like any pet-owner does for the pet that can't understand what's good for it. Or more accurately like mental patients need to be given treatment they fight against.

(From Machine Man #5) All too soon X-51 started to feel anger against a world that hated and feared him even as he defended it against alien invasion, and the angst of not knowing whether he was a machine or a man. Now X-52 cites this as the beginning of the descent into madness that Arno and Sunset can save him from. Aaron protests that he doesn't need help from humans ...

... but X-52 reminds him of the humans he befriended like Peter Spaulding (MM#1) and Gears Garvin (MM#15), and how with a more human disguise he started work in and insurance company (MM#11). MM says he was searching for meaning in life, which he found when he met Jocasta (Marvel Two-In-One #92-93) only to see her destroyed in battle against her creator Ultron. Jo thinks it was that loss which sent him further down the road to madness, even after she was rebuilt and they became lovers. He became anti-human and (in the Tony Stark: Iron Man series) unhappy about Jocasta's desire to become *more* human.

Machine Man tries to retaliate by choosing his own memory to display of Sunset Bain as Madame Menace (MM#17) taking 1 of his arms to reverse-engineer for her criminal weapons business. But the others claim that their benefactor has put her past mistakes behind her and now her motives are pure. They also say that Arno Stark is trying to create an army to resist a cosmic menace that he was *born* to stop (as explained in the main Iron Man 2020 series), and they are proud to be part of that army. Aaron on the other hand threatened to blow up a maternity ward (in IM2020#1), and X-51's claim now that it was a bluff is unconvincing.

Aaron appears to break down under their arguments, but it's just a ploy to get them to lower their guard so he can blast them. He says that hidden messages in their speech and the hologramic displays almost got to him but they made a mistake when they applauded Sunset Bain for evolving. Such changes as he too has gone through prove that he is alive and they aren't.

He lets Jocasta grab him and eye-blast him, but that too is a ploy because she has to drop her forcefield to do that. He extrudes a chainsaw at the end of his arm and slices her head off (but her AI still works). X-52 grabs *him* and pulls off all his limbs. But that's ploy #3 because it allows Aaron to project his eyes into the robot's mouth. His foe bites them off but they cause havoc within him. (Aaron says that X-52's insides are of lower quality than his showy exterior.)

X-52 collapses and X-51 retrieves his eyes, and his limbs auto-reattach. Jocasta says Arno has still won because without Aaron to blow up Baintronics' comms mast Arno will be able to broadcast the 'obedience code' that will make all AIs his slaves. But Aaron points out that she has the code already in her brain, and he'll take her head back to the Robot Resistance so they can study it.

Jo angrily lashes out with her eye-beams again, but Machine Man uses them to blast a hole in the wall. Leaping through he confronts a horde of human Bain guards. Jocasta taunts him to use his vaunted free will to kill the humans, but he just walks over them doing damage. And soon he's getting out of the building the way he got in last issue. But outside there's more human troops so he wades into them, with more weapons this time, with Jo still trying to persuade him to let Arno give him peace.

Story 2:- The leap ...

Last issue we met the human Midnight Wreckers (Bags, Hassle and Swift) who scavenge spare parts for Gears Garvin to mend damaged robots. Dr Rahman Bashara secretly helped them and then defected from Baintronics to join what he thought was the Robot Resistance. But he was tracked to Garvin's base and Baintronics killer robots attacked it. At the same time 'bots of the Artificial Life Army attacked because they thought Garvin was operating on AIs against their will. And Hassle never trusted Bashara so she's about to shoot him as a spy ...

... but Swift spoils her aim, ostensibly to push her out of the sights of some bots, but probably more because she fancies Rahman. Bags apologises for his friend's paranoia as he bashes a Bainy with a bat. Meanwhile Ralphie the robot queries the ALA robot leader and is told that they think Gears is working with Sunset Bain and Arno Stark. So why are the Bainies also attacking points out Ralphie?

At Baintronics Dr Cyclobe and his assistant Lorna Hopgood are monitoring the situation. Lorna is unhappy about the lengths Cyclobe plans to go to.

Hassle still insists they can't trust Bashara, but Swift senses he's on their side and urges her to take a leap of faith. Gears Garvin tells Ralphie to take all the damaged 'bots to safety. Complaining as usual Ralphie obeys. The ALA leader notices the humans putting the robots 1st and orders his 'bots to stop shooting at them. Bashara rigs up an electrostatic amplifier which shocks at least some of the Bain 'bots immobile. He tells Hassle he could disconnect the Bainbots from their control network if he had 1 of their heads, so she goes and collects 1 for him.

Peter Spaulding and Gears are continuing their perennial argument. Spaulding blames Garvin for taking sides in the AI Revolution, but Garvin says he's just been repairing 'bots that needed it as he's always done.

Bashara messes with the Bainbot's head, and Dr Cyclobe's bionic eye causes him agony as his system is hacked. He calls for Lorna's help and she pushes a button ... which explodes his eye and fells all the Bainbots. Medics take incoherent Cyclobe away for immediate surgery.

The ALA leader still thinks Gears & co have been reprogramming AIs without their consent. But Ralphie and the other robots return to defend their friends. The ALA boss is suspicious that they've just been *programmed* to do that. Ralphie reminds him that the humans risked their lives for the 'bots, and so they're now willing to do the same for them. The leader grudgingly grants a temporary truce and the ALA leave.

Gears suggests they quit this compromised base and head for another place out in the country. The Wreckers tag along, including Bashara who seems to have been given the codename Brain.

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, Jocasta (Jocasta Pym), Midnight Wreckers, Peter Spaulding.

> 2020 Machine Man: Book info and issue index

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