The Small Lebowski:
Machine Man #19
Issue(s): Machine Man #19
This is the first appearance of the Jack O'Lantern, who is superficially similar to the Green Goblin and will even later become a Hobgoblin. Let's start with a trippy Steve Ditko opening splash:
Machine Man's face is still melted after his battle with Sunset Bain and Alpha Flight from last issue.
He's given a new face by his friend Gears Gavin, but it's still soft and requires a few days to harden.
The Jack O'Lantern's plan is to raid a "super-embassy". Machine Man catches some thugs doing surveillance and follows them back to the Lantern's lair...
...where they get into their first fight.
The Lantern's platform doesn't glide like a Goblin's. It's a pogo-platform. It bounces.
Of course the fight happens while Machine Man's face is still softening, and it gets damaged.
Luckily the rematch is at the super-embassy's Halloween party, and Aaron Stack goes as himself (after first swiping a very convincing Superman mask from a kid).
Machine Man wins the rematch...
...but the emotions he's been feeling since his face was damaged, and the distrust he detected from bystanders at the fight at the embassy, have caused him to question his standing in life, and he decides to quit his job at the insurance company. He tells Gears to take as long as he wants to repair his face this time.
Ditko's art's appeal increases the wilder the scenario is. During the downtime scenes it feels very dated.
Tom DeFalco's dialogue feels dated throughout.
Maggie Jones, a co-worker of Aaron Stack at the insurance company, introduces her brother Brock. It's the same Brock Jones that is Torpedo, a minor character that appeared in a few issues of Daredevil and will go on to become a supporting character in ROM. There's no indication in this issue that he's a super-hero.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Something about this issue seems to cause major problems for the MCP. They have this issue occurring during a lot of other issues, including Marvel Team-Up #99 and Marvel Two-In-One #93, which is published almost a year later. I presume the problem is because Aaron Stack is still working at his insurance company in those issues, but i don't see any reason why he couldn't simply have returned to his job after some time off. It makes a lot more sense than assuming that the last three panels of this issue take place over a 1 year span of time. There's also Marvel Team-Up annual #3, which was published in 1980 but the MCP also places during this issue. I think the issue there is that Aaron Stack is introduced to Bruce Jones in this issue, but Jones appears in that annual. However, just because it's the first time Aaron and Bruce have met shouldn't matter; we've known Jones was working there since issue #11. A more immediate priority is that Jack O'Lantern appears in Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man #56 soon after the end of this issue (he's being taken to a hospital after the battle here). That issue of Peter Parker takes place during a break in Amazing Spider-Man #216-218, so this issue can be said to take place concurrently with that whole run.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showByron Benjamin, Eddie Harris, Gears Garvin, Jason Macendale, Machine Man, Maggie Jones, Miles Brickman, Pamela Quinn, Peter Spaulding, Torpedo
am i the only one who got creeped out by macine man approaching those young lads and asking "Would you boys like to earn some money?"
Posted by: kveto from prague | November 24, 2011 2:54 PM
Clearly the kids are too, since one of them calls him a creep.
I always liked Jack O'Lantern, he's got a really neat visual.
Posted by: S | January 12, 2013 1:27 PM
I feel blasphemous for criticizing Steve Ditko, but Jack O'Lantern looks weirdly drawn in this issue. Is his right eye supposed to be consistently bigger than his left eye?
Posted by: mikrolik | May 31, 2015 1:38 PM
@mikrolik: I'd suggest squirrels had been chewing the right eye of his pumpkin;)
Posted by: Nathan Adler | May 31, 2015 11:46 PM
Superman and Batman costumes appear rather blatantly on the cover.
One of the partygoers is wearing an Archie Andrews mask.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2016 1:38 PM
The issue resolves the emotional problems stuff by showing that damage to Machine Man's brain from the previous issue was to blame. Gears fixes it up in the epilogue.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | April 14, 2017 5:29 PM
fnord, where do you get off criticizing DeFalco's writing style?? Don't you know that every time I have to tell a co-worker our boss is calling a meeting or needs them, I helpfully interject his first and last name into the sentence? :P
Posted by: Wis | October 15, 2017 10:40 AM
How many comic writers are guilty of that anyway? In Man of Steel (the reboot mini-series) #4, Lois says to Luthor, "He'd never come to one of your parties, not even in his official capacity as Managing Editor of the Daily Planet." Thanks for reminding everyone of his job title which they already know.
Posted by: iLegion | October 15, 2017 9:54 PM
That was a standard problem in the days before recap pages. "Every issue is someone's first" was Shooter's policy- and it was a necessary one.
Posted by: Michael | October 15, 2017 10:07 PM
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