The Small Lebowski:
Machine Man #15
Issue(s): Machine Man #15
DeFalco introduces two new supporting characters. The first is Gears Gavin, a mechanic that hobbles together a repair for Machine Man after his first encounter with the bad guy of the issue (more on that in a minute).
The second is Pamela Quinn, a clerk at the insurance company where Machine Man works as "Aaron Stack", and a love interest for him.
This issue also has the Fantastic Four, mainly the Human Torch and the Thing, as guest stars.
As for the villain, that's not quite an accurate description. Scientist Voletta Todd, a "gorgeous bundle of fluff", turns herself into an amorphous blob while researching hydrogen fusion.
She tries to get Machine Man to kill her...
...and, failing that, goes to the Baxter Building, either to get a cure or be killed. But only the Human Torch and the Thing are home...
....and without Reed Richards she's not liable to find any help, so she soon leaves. But Machine Man shows up for his misunderstanding fight. He complains that super-heroes are paranoid, but maybe he could try being a little less flip?
Machine Man then tracks down Voletta Todd (aka Ion) and gets her into a meat locker, where the colder temperature allows her to solidify. The rest of the FF show up later and find instructions on how to keep her preserved.
Storywise, probably not the Machine Man/Fantastic Four first encounter you were hoping for. Artwise, this issue displays Ditko at his best and at his worst. Those panels with Machine Man fighting Ion are awesome, classic Ditko. But his Fantastic Four is just awful. Ditko can't draw realistically, but he's got a crazy imagination and can deliver really cool surreal panels. Having him draw established characters like the FF was a mistake, and really Machine Man is the wrong title for him since it usually doesn't leave a lot of room for the strange.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The FF's appearance is context free. I've placed this between Fantastic Four #218-219, same break as a number of Marvel Two-In-Ones.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showByron Benjamin, Eddie Harris, Gears Garvin, Human Torch, Invisible Woman, Ion, Machine Man, Maggie Jones, Mr. Fantastic, Pamela Quinn, Peter Spaulding, Thing
Was Machine Man traveling, or does DeFalco seem to be unaware of the fact that Machine Man was one of the few Marvel heroes not based in New York? (the Hulk story seemed to have him in California)
Posted by: Erik Robbins | September 11, 2013 9:18 PM
I hate to badmouth Ditko, but that's the worst-looking Thing I've ever seen
Posted by: S | September 12, 2013 12:44 AM
In Back Issue #25, Tom DeFalco mentions that Ditko would not agree to continue working on the series until he saw DeFalco's first plot. After Ditko received it, he called DeFalco, asking him why he was qualified to write about heroes and to also define what a hero was. DeFalco said the discussion lasted for two hours, and that the two of them got along quite well, and continued to do so after the series ended.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 6, 2015 4:52 AM
If only Sturdy Steve believed in irises. But when it comes to energ-based battles and amorphous beings, you could do worse than be his pupil.
Posted by: Cecil | April 2, 2017 4:49 AM
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