The Small Lebowski:
Machine Man #2-6
Issue(s): Machine Man #2, Machine Man #3, Machine Man #4, Machine Man #5, Machine Man #6
He pays for the equipment using the Superman-like method of converting rocks into diamonds. I am not sure if the Machine Man's extra abilities make it any more realistic.
But we'll have to agree that the upgrade from the equipment is pretty awesome.
Machine Man arrives at Spaulding's place of work while a mental patient is ranting about falling into a sun in a distant galaxy.
And Machine Man detects an actual interstellar transmission at work, so they determine that the patient is indeed broadcasting an alien message.
I was reading these Machine Man comics while on vacation with a group of friends, and i convinced one of them, who isn't a big comics fan but does read Grant Morrison-esque type books, that she would like issue #3. I mean, here we have Machine Man projecting the thoughts of a mental patient who is transmitting an intergalactic message...
...and building an inter-dimensional portal out of his own body parts...
...to free Ten-For, Holocaust Specialist First class.
Obviously, this is genius that any Grant Morrison fan would appreciate. She didn't buy it, though, especially thanks to panels like this ("Can you explain what's happening while I ward off a possible head injury?!")...
...and Colonel Kragg's a bit too honest description of his motives.
We know better, though.
The story continues with Spaulding pulling an inhibitor device off of Machine Man's head...
...so that he can go after Ten For, who was busy devastating Kragg's forces. When Machine Man hears the army lumping Machine Man in with Ten For, though, he has a moment of doubt, and the ghost of his father is the only thing that keeps him going.
Meanwhile, Ten For is wandering the streets of Central City.
So Machine Man demonstrates that he has the power of teleportation...
...and eventually faces off against Ten For.
Machine Man's flamethrower is threatening to Ten For, but Ten For exploits Machine Man's concern for humans by holding them hostage while he sends a signal to the rest of his robot space army.
However, Machine Man gives up the fight when the army shows up and is easily taken in by the idea that it's Machine Man that's the bad guy.
So he goes and hangs out at a costume party instead.
Eventually Peter Spaulding convinces Colonel Kragg to issue a truce with Machine Man, and they start broadcasting messages on the television telling Machine Man that all is forgiven. Machine Man is content to ignore them, but another party-goer, a reporter named Tracy Warner, tries to convince Machine Man to help.
Meanwhile, Ten For's relatives, the Autocrons, start moving in.
It takes a black cab driver to convince Machine Man that humanity is worth saving (and i'm kinda glad my Grant Morrison-loving friend never made it this far).
Machine Man is able to defeat Ten For...
...and send him back out into space, where he explodes, destroying the Autocron fleet.
Thematically, the "acceptance of robots in human society" topic is a bit old hat but it's made more interesting by the fact that Machine Man really does seem human, to the point where he has crazy dreams and even hallucinations of his dead "father", and exhibits real personality by flirting with the idea of not fighting Ten For and being generally belligerent. But it's all marred by Kirby's awkward scripting.
An interesting thing to note is about the letters, or lack thereof, in these issues. Even though these are the early issues of a new series, it would have been possible to run letters about the 2001: A Space Odyssey series that were a direct predecessor. But instead, the "lettercols" feature mini-essays from Jack Kirby on the topic of robots as legitimate life forms. And then there won't be any lettercols until issue #9, the last of Kirby's run. The address for the letters goes to a post office box in California instead of the regular Marvel address (unlike the address in the 2001 issues). I know that Kirby believed that Marvel editors were deliberately choosing negative letters or even inserting their own fake letters, so this could have been Kirby's way to circumvent them.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Ten-For="10-4" from CB Radio fad lingo. That couldn't have helped this series or Kirby's late 1970s Marvel image any.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 16, 2013 5:48 PM
I think Ten-For's over the top cooperation with the authorities is well done and very amusing; this surprisingly isn't more often done in this era of comics with the apparent villain capitalizing like that! #Brim OUT
Posted by: Brimstone | January 10, 2016 4:30 PM
All those chapter headings with their sinewy strokes! There ought to be an official, downloadable Kirby-Royer font.
Posted by: Oliver_C | May 9, 2016 6:23 PM
Ten-For is terrorizing Central City? Quick, somebody call the Flash!
Posted by: Andrew | January 7, 2017 5:49 AM
Posted by: Cecil | April 2, 2017 7:01 AM
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