Machine Man #16-17
Issue(s): Machine Man #16, Machine Man #17
Aaron Stack is sent with co-worker Eddie Harris to investigate the security at a company called Chem-Solar. The company has just developed a device called the Sol-Mac, a solar-fueled microwave transmitter. Aside from the "obvious militaristic functions", the Sol-Mac could be potentially used to transmit data through space. This sounds like a step on the way to the Kree's Omni-Wave Projector, a device that allowed for instantaneous communications through space, and one that the Kree were highly protective of.
Anyway, the first of our new villains appear to steal the device. He's Baron Brimstone, and he presents himself as a "master of the mystic arts". There were a lot of requests for Ditko to return to Dr. Strange now that he was back at Marvel, and i wonder if this was a compromise.
The twist here, though, is that Brimstone's powers are, at a minimum, supplemented with technology.
Some evidence in favor of him being an actual sorcerer is the fact that Machine Man is vulnerable to his energy bolts in a way that (according to him) he wouldn't be against natural energy.
But even Machine Man later says "I have yet to learn whether you are a master of the occult or merely an elaborate showman!".
Brimstone has a bunch of goons ("the Satan Squad") and also two higher level henchmen, Hammer Harrison and Snake Marston. These two guys, appropriately, will later hook up with the Enforcers.
Gears Gavin helps Machine Man protect himself from the microwaves of the Sol-Mac by covering him in a thin layer of gold from a pair of wedding rings (intended for a girl who turned him down when he "blew our honeymoon stash on parts for my hog").
When facing Brimstone's goons, they say they are happy that he isn't Spider-Man.
Machine Man ultimately defeats Baron Brimstone, but before he does that, Brimstone kidnaps love interest Pamela Quinn and throws her from a helicopter. Machine Man removes one of his arms to save her.
A combination of sorcery and Enforcer-style bad guys brings out the best in Ditko...
...and Tom DeFalco's "corny joke a minute" scripting can be enjoyable in a nostalgic way.
While Machine Man was dealing with Baron Brimstone, someone snags Machine Man's arm and sells it to our final villain, Madam Menace.
In her civilian identity, Sunset Bain, she's an upscale party thrower...
...but as Madam Menace she sells arms to anarchists and/or terrorists.
Meanwhile, Machine Man's new friend Gears Gavin isn't getting along with his old friend, Peter Spaulding.
Paul tells Machine Man to relax and "Play some Billy Joel... or plug into the Carson show". Machine Man says he has no time for "my usual pleasures". I see this as progress for Machine Man, who a few issues back considered watching movies a waste of time. There's been almost nothing in the way of character development for Machine Man, but this may be a subtle sign that he's evolving.
However, he may be watching too much TV, because he figures that going into a random bar will allow him to stumble into information about his missing arm. He does get into a fight, but he learns nothing because no one there knows anything.
Cute scene, if you accept that Machine Man is really that naive.
Luckily for Machine Man, Madam Menace wants the rest of him so she can replicate him and sell robots to her clients. So she attacks him and captures him, and soon he escapes...
...and gets his arm back. Madam Menace is possibly killed in an explosion, but Machine Man isn't sure.
As a shady arms dealer, Sunset Bain has a number of additional appearances in Iron Man and elsewhere.
In case you were wondering, Machine Man's co-worker Maggie Jones is still awful.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: I've combined these two issues in a single entry since Machine Man's arm is missing between issues, with issue #16 being said to have ended "earlier this afternoon" at the beginning of #17. Issue #18 opens with Machine Man on the hunt for Madam Menace, although that doesn't mean he couldn't appear elsewhere doing something else in between, and i'm placing Marvel Team-Up #99 between this entry and #18, which means Baron Brimstone's time in jail is short-lived.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showBaron Brimstone, Eddie Harris, Gears Garvin, Hammer Harrison, Machine Man, Madame Menace (Sunset Bain), Maggie Jones, Pamela Quinn, Peter Spaulding, Snake Marston
Somehow I don't know if it should be a funny or weird image just thinking of Aaron Stack listening to "Glass Houses"...
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 4, 2013 7:35 PM
I get the need for a secret identity, but no one with a name as cool as "Sunset Bain" should have to go by "Madame Menace."
Posted by: TCP | July 17, 2015 1:54 PM
Interesting to learn that before he became a "Wrestler, Celebrity" who posted comments on this site, Brimstone was a super-villain who fought Machine Man :)
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 8, 2016 10:38 PM
Ben, I guess he got around :)
Also in this vein, before becoming beloved by all children of the 80's as the Decepticon leader, Megatron was a human controlled giant robot who fought the Shogun Warriors! LOL
Posted by: Bill | February 8, 2016 10:59 PM
One of the barroom thugs is called "Gorelick", a reference to Victor Gorelick, an editor/writer at DeFalco's previous employer, Archie Comics.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 6, 2016 1:33 PM
Baron Brimstone, Satan Squad... that's some infernal theme naming there. But his mooks don't look demonic at all.
"Gears Gavin isn't getting along with his old friend, Paul Spaulding." Isn't that Peter Spaulding?
Posted by: Nate Wolf | January 8, 2018 1:22 PM
Comments are now closed.
|SuperMegaMonkey home | Comics Chronology home|