The most difficult battle Aaron Stack has ever faced is against himself- err, selves. Your Major Spoilers review of 2020 Machine Man #2 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Christos Gage/Tom DeFalco
Penciler: Andy MacDonald/Mike Hawthorne
Inker: Adriano di Benedetto
Colorist: Dono Sanchez-Almara/Erick Arcieniega
Letterer: VC’s Travis Lanham
Editor: Darren Shan
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: March 18, 2020
Previously in 2020 Machine Man: Machine Man is fighting to save his true love, but will he be able to defeat – himself?! Outdated and overpowered, Machine Man goes head-to-head with the updated X-52 model! Will Machine Man be able to overcome or will he find himself paved over in the name of progress?
This issue picks up moments after last, as Jocasta confronts Machine Man with the upgraded X-52 version of himself, which is not-coincidentally modeled after the red-and-silver version seen in the 1984 miniseries set in the year 2020. X-52 spends most of the issue trying to convince X-51/Aaron that he has finally succumbed to the madness that destroyed the previous fifty robots of their series (who, coincidentally, Machine Man chopped to bits last ish.) The two-pronged assault of his beloved Jocasta and Freudian analysis nearly defeats Machine Man, until he realizes an important truth: The fact that he has changed and grown proves that he is alive, and the unchanging programming that X-52 is espousing is the real robot. Also: He’s human enough to cheat. In the second story, we get an updated version of the Midnight Wreckers, also from the 1984 limited series, and their war with Baintronics automated sentries, written by the creator of that book, Tom DeFalco.
A LOT OF INTROSPECTION
The AI/Human war currently at play in the Iron Man family of titles is one of those double-edged swords, in that it raises important questions about the nature of consciousness and humanity, but it can’t actually ANSWER those questions. That said, Gage’s story does interesting things with Aaron “Machine Man” Stack’s history here, helping to reconcile the angry “DESTROY THE FLESHY ONES!” nextwave Aaron with the more traditionally heroic and moral Machine Man. The art in both stories is excellent, with special attention MacDonald’s storytelling throughout the first tale, especially the amount of emotion and expression he gets in even though all three of the characters lack eyes. There’s also a clever balance of the original 1984 cyberpunk designs with the more streamlined approach available to modern creators, which makes the backup story fascinating to look at and compare to the original.
BOTTOM LINE: A SOLID SIDE STORY
With the main story taking place in Iron Man’s own title, it’s nice to see Machine Man getting some attention, even though I’m always leery of the “interlinked miniseries” model of comic book event building. 2020 Machine Man #2 is a solid payoff for our main character, playing with nostalgia and comparing current expectations of dystopia with 1984’s expectations thereof and featuring strong art in both chapters, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall. Even though I was a fan of the original book, I’m glad that this one doesn’t require you to know it, chapter and verse, in order to enjoy this miniseries.
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2020 MACHINE MAN #2
Your Fleshy Gods
Combining explosions, robot wars and deep philosophical moments, this book is a very good read, especially (but not exclusively) if you remember the comics it’s referencing.