Tuesday, January 26, 2010

I Loves Me Some Machine Man (1984)

I had heard some praise from people I hold in high regard for the four issue miniseries from 1984. I could not resist picking it up last week when I spotted for $1 an issue. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but the talent involved (Tom DeFalco, Herb Trimpe and Barry Windsor-Smith) was strong - so it was definitely worth a look. Wow, was I ever pleasantly surprised. This was a very engaging read - set a well constructed dystopian near future of 2020. This was the era of Blade Runner, Mad Max and a million cheap Italian post-Apocalyptic movies so everyone had a 'vision' of what the future would hold, and it was usually quite bleak. DeFalco's vision of the future is not revolutionary, but it is well formed and his future feels 'lived in', which is the key to authenticity.

Right off the bat, the concept of Machine Man as relic rather than as a piece of cutting edge technology is very clever. The characters are very colorful without being annoying, and the corporate conspiracy storyline holds up quite well today. That's what struck me the most, actually. The entire thing seems quite fresh. So many books from the Big Two published during the 80s, especially Marvel 'event' books, have aged terribly. This one seems like it could have been published last year. I don't know where this fits into actual Machine Man continuity and I don't really care, as it works great as a standalone piece. The artwork is gorgeous through, and I really love the fact that Trimpe and Winsor-Smith seemed to be paying tribute to Kirby with those flying motorbikes. I see that this was published as a trade a couple of times, but my guess is that it would be easier to track down the actual floppies. Thanks to all who recommended this series to me, I enjoyed it immensely.

7 comments:

benday-dot/craig said...

I picked this up a little over a year ago I think Scott. I am fairly certain I was also urged on by some mutually respected friends. I didn't pick up the 4 issue mini, but the 2 issue mini, which gathers 2 issues per issue. Sounds confusing, but all the same fun and gorgeous art is there. The Windsor-Smith influence is pronounced, but even with Trimpe plotting the layouts it provides further evidence to Happy Herb's unsung brilliance in the comic world. Thanks! Craig

Rob said...

I got this one in trade for a dollar or two, and it was well worth the read. I was honestly shocked at the fact that it as DeFalco, as I thought the writing was very different for him.

A definite hidden gem.

Andrew Wahl said...

Scott:

I loved this series when it came out, and agree it holds up well today. I think it was a great use of the miniseries format, and it might have been Teen Me's introduction to Barry Windsor-Smith. Interesting side note: If I remember right, Herb Trimpe was not happy about how overpowering BWS ink work was on this series, or about getting booted off issue #4.

Cheers,
Andrew
ComicsBronzeAge.com

Stumptown said...

Like you, I came to this mini-series well after publication. For me it was a matter of tracking down the Iron Man 2020 armor and the son of Tony Stark. But, I found Machine Man to be much more interesting in this book and really enjoyed it tremendously. I had always viewed him as a comedic character before this (I'm not sure why), but this portrayal really made me see him in a new light.

Matt Bird said...

Trimpe is also on record as feeling that his Liefeld-esque '90s work was his best. That man just doesn't know when he's got a good thing.

I LOVED this miniseries as a kid. I even bought the very early trade when it came out, just to have it on my shelf. (For many yeas, this and Wolverine were the only two miniseries Marvel collected in trade, iirc.) It introduced me to BWS. Shocking to remember that DeFalco could be very good sometimes.

Hugo Sleestak said...

I bought this series as it came out, and couldn't wait for the next issue. I never knew that it had been collected as a trade. Matching Trimpe with BWS was an odd combo to me, but it worked! Great stuff.

matt iv said...

I just kinda stumbled across these issues a couple of years ago and loved them! They're some of my favorites--the color, art, and characters are great. I have a soft spot for '80s comics, especially '80s science fiction comics, and this mini-series was just wonderful. Plus, I really like anti-authoritarian perspectives and felt there was quite a bit of that in the story. Pretty awesome.