Captain America #368
Issue(s): Captain America #368
They find blood, but no body. Crossbones tells Machinesmith that if word gets out that the Red Skull is missing (or dead), all kinds of operations may get messed up. Machinesmith says that a contingency plan has already been worked out for this kind of occasion.
"At that moment", Captain America arrives at Avengers park, and Jarvis mentions the recent fight with the Mandarin.
Check out that footnote. The Mandarin attacked in Avengers #313 only, not in #312. Does Jarvis think that Freedom Force were cronies of the Mandarin? Or is Jarvis just referring to the Wizard as the Mandarin's crony. We can write this off as Jarvis not knowing exactly what was going on, which is reasonable, but it's not normal from writers, especially writers like Mark Gruenwald, to deliberately mislead readers by using friendly characters as unreliable narrators. It seems that even now Mark Gruenwald wasn't sure what exactly was going to be happening in the Avengers. This is worth remarking on because Machinesmith's contingency plan, revealed in this issue, is the Red Skull robot that would have to have already appeared in Avengers #313.
Anyway, after getting attacked by the Avengers security system, which Fabian Stankowicz is still trying to repair, Captain America starts researching Magneto, which is interesting because Cap did not actually learn that Magneto was chasing the Skull last issue. We did hear from Crossbones in this issue that the staff workers in the Red Skull's building said that Magneto was the one that attacked, so maybe Cap also heard it from them.
Meanwhile, we see that the floating doorway is still in the Red Skull's office, and we see the Machinesmith's Skullbot.
Crossbones and Machinesmith then set about trying to locate Magneto, who they assume can lead them to their boss. To that end, Crossbones contacts the Serpent Society and "the Scourge people", but Machinesmith has an idea to use a Magneto robot to lure out the real Magneto.
Meanwhile, Diamondback goes out for drinks with some of her former Serpent Society friends at "a certain Manhattan drinking establishment catering to the underworld" (a Bar with No Name?).
And while she's there, Asp and Black Mamba get the call from the Cobra to look for Magneto, and Diamondback remembers that he was supposed to be a member of the Hellfire Club, from when she was hanging out with the X-Men "last summer".
The X-Men's attempt at pretending to be dead just took another hit.
Diamondback is invited to go along with her Serpent pals.
Then, the Magneto robot shows up at a protest against the registration act that the Resistants are leading at the Capitol Building.
It's cool that the Resistants are peacefully protesting, and a Claremont-era Magneto might have agreed with their methods, but robot Magneto is not interested in any of that.
Captain America shows up and is surprised to find that Magneto's forcefield is just a dome with an open bottom. He's able to use a crevice in the ground created by the fighting and climb underneath it. And then he's able to hit Magneto in the back of the head no problem, another surprise.
Magneto starts talking like, well, he sounds like a British cartoon character but i don't think that's what Mark Gruenwald had in mind, and Cap realizes that he's not dealing with the real deal.
At that point, Cap lets loose, decapitating the robot.
We don't see the Serpent Squad going to the Hellfire Club this issue, but we do see the Black Queen watching Cap's fight with the robot on television and wondering if it's an attempt to discredit Magneto. She wonders where the real Magneto is, and we're shown that he's currently appearing in West Coast Avengers.
One thing that has not yet been said in the comics is that the Machinesmith's Magneto Robot is the same one that was working with Mesmero circa Uncanny X-Men #58 and earlier, but the MCP have always tagged it that way and i've always followed them on that. This issue's back-up story features the Machinesmith, and it's really more of a Saga than a story, but it doesn't address the Magneto robot thing and in fact seems to contradict it.
Machinesmith is repairing the Fourth Sleeper after Magneto's attack on it last issue. His monologue is full of little innuendos.
He says that he got into robotics after finding one of Dr. Doom's servobots after a battle with the Fantastic Four.
He then describes his death (while in Mr. Fear guise) and how he was saved when his robots transferred his mind into computer software in a robot body.
As a robot, he began creating more robots, and here's the panel implying that he actually created the Magneto robot.
He then recaps the rest of his history, ending with an explanation that after he tricked Captain America into seemingly killing him, one of his bodies woke up and he realized he liked being alive as a robot after all, and since then he's been working for the Red Skull.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The opening part of this story beings "a few hours" after last issue. The reference to the Mandarin's attack places this after Avengers #312. Magneto's appearance in Avengers West Coast #55 is concurrent with this story, according to the end blurb.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showAsp, Black Mamba, Black Queen (Selene), Captain America, Cobra, Crossbones, Diamondback, Fabian Stankowicz, Fourth Sleeper, Jarvis, Lifter (Meteorite), Machinesmith, Magneto, Magneto Robot, Man-Wolf (John Jameson), Mist Mistress, Peggy Carter, Quill (Resistants), Red Skull Robot, Scarlet Witch, Shocker (Paralyzer), Thing Robot
Fnord, note that this issue confirms that Machinesmith was trapped when Cap put the Sleeper in stasis. That's why Machinesmith was listed as "in custody" on the monitor in issue 355.
Posted by: Michael | April 8, 2015 10:38 PM
The Magneto robot has thought-balloons?!
Posted by: cullen | April 9, 2015 12:22 PM
It's Machinesmith's mind inside the Magneto robot.
Posted by: Michael | April 10, 2015 12:09 AM
Ah i see. Oddly never followed that character (despite being a big fan of Gruenwald's Cap run!) and still don't exactly "get" how he works!
Posted by: cullen | April 10, 2015 1:14 AM
Of course! It has been established in his first appearance as Machinesmith (in the Stern/Byrne issues of Captain America) that he can send his brain patterns to other robotic bodies at will (supposedly only if the robots have been custom made to be receptible to his brain, of course).
That sure makes his control of the Magneto robot possible.
In that case, there is nothing except perhaps lack of chutzpah to prevent him from animating a Red Skull robot and joining the Acts of Vengeance cabal on the Skull's behalf.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 10, 2015 1:15 AM
I've always found it interesting that a Nazi villain like Red Skull would employ an openly gay henchman like Machinesmith--and how he and the rest of the Skeleton Crew just accept Machinesmith so easily. They can't be unaware of it--he is flamboyant enough and open enough that he isn't making any effort to hide it. And Mother Night and her brother both comment openly about it at one point.
For a team of super-villains led by a Nazi and including a street thug like Crossbones and a brother/sister team with church-based costumes and code-names, they are surprisingly tolerant and open-minded. LOL
I guess Machinesmith's skills and expertise prove his value to Red Skull, and the fact that he is robotic now maybe negate the matter of sexuality in his mind...although anatomically-correct artificial lifeforms like Vision and Jim Hammond having sex with humans, and even non-anatomically correcting robots like Ultron creating bridges for himself, shows that sexuality IS still an issue. But I guess the Skull doesn't think about it that much.
Posted by: Dermie | April 17, 2015 12:38 PM
A very Grunwaldian issue with all the different elements brought together, particularly spelling of Machinsmith's origin.
Ron Lim drew a pretty Diamondback.
Posted by: kveto | December 20, 2016 5:24 PM
It was the first edition of the Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe that established that Starr Saxon was the person who created both the Magneto robot and the Demi-Men androids that worked with Mesmero. How does this story contradict that idea?
Posted by: Don Campbell | December 20, 2016 7:02 PM
Because it shows Saxon/Machinesmith being reborn in his robot body and then creating the Magneto robot. The Magneto robot first appeared in Uncanny X-Men #49-52, comics cover-dated Oct 68 - Jan 69. Saxon's human body died in Daredevil #55, Aug 69.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 13, 2017 8:25 AM
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