When the robot uprising begins, Aaron Stack must choose: Is he machine?  Or Man?  Your Major Spoilers review of 2020 Machine Man #1 from Marvel Comics awaits!


Writer: Christos Gage/Tom DeFalco
Penciler: Andy MacDonald/Mike Hawthorne
Inker: Andriano di Benedetto
Colorist:  Dono Sanchez-Almara/Erick Arciniega
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Darren Shan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: February 19, 2020

Previously in 2020 Machine ManThe A.I. uprising has begun, and Machine Man finds himself torn about his place in the revolution!  As the battle rages around him, will Machine Man aid mankind’s fight for survival or join his robot brethren in ushering a new age?  And when faced with a figure from his past, Machine Man must decide: Is it time to follow his programming or his heart?


We open in the memory banks of Aaron Stack aka X-51 aka Machine Man as he goes through the sordid history of his relationship with Jocasta, the android created by Hank Pym as a mate for Ultron. We quickly learn that he’s not telling US this, but in fact trying to convince Jocasta (now reprogrammed by Sunset Bain and Arno Stark to be a loyal brainwashed ‘bot) to join his A.I. revolution before Arno can trigger a signal that would enslave all artificial intelligence. The argument fails, and Machine Man finds that his main squeeze has led him into a trap where he finds… X-22, one of the earlier models in his line! He easily overcomes one of his metal “brothers”, but is quickly overwhelmed when the other 49 attack en masse, Being the most sophisticated (and, y’know, never having freaked out, malfunctioned and exploded), Aaron is able to out-think them, following Jocasta deeper within the Bain complex. She points out that he isn’t stable either, citing his swinging back-and-forth from “ordinary guy” to “DESTROY ALL HUMANS!” and sets him off on a jealous rage when she explains that she’s found love… with X-52, the Machine Man of 2020!


As a fan of the ‘Machine Man’ series that inspired this entire “Iron Man of 2020” arc, I’m entertained to see so much of it being referenced and worked into continuity. Not only does X-52 wear the look Machine Man had in that book, the backup story retells a big hunk of issue #1 in current Marvel continuity, including the adorable future-shock nonsense slang. Andy MacDonald is an excellent choice for the art, able to create solid mechanical creations and still imbue them with life and emotion. Aaron’s big red lens eyes can be hard to convey expression without cheating, but he does a great job, while Hawthorne’s work on the backup is reminiscent of Windsor-Smith’s original 1984 art without being too derivative. I especially appreciate how this issue calls out Aaron’s wild mood-swings, even using them as part of Jocasta’s argument that he, too, is fatally flawed, sowing doubt not only in the character but in the readers. Though the main thrust of this 2020 storyline is about Iron Man and his doubts about his own humanity, the use of Machine Man and Jocasta has been excellent, reminding readers that others have had the same worries and making it clear that we’re not going to ignore 30 years of stories (and a Kirby origin) to get to the proverbial Next Big Thing.


A book that’s all about a character doubting their own humanity sounds like it might be a snooze, but 2020 Machine Man #1 pulls it off with action, aplomb and explosions, never letting the philosophy get bulldozed by the fighty-fighty or vice-versa, with clean, expressive art to pull it all together, earning 4.5 out of 5 stars overall. I’m a sucker for a Machine Man story because of the limited series this story is building on, so I’m inclined to like this already, but the execution here makes for a tight, engaging and best of all, emotionally resonant issue of comics.

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Worth It

A lot of deep thoughts, great use of continuity and well-done art combine with a well thought-out plot, making this one a winner (and bringing back the red-and-silver suit.)

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Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.

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