Tuesday, February 8, 2011

CABLE/MACHINE MAN ‘98 - June 1998


Credits: Mike Higgins & Karl Bollers (writers), Rick Leonardi (penciler), Dan Green (inker), J. M. Babgins (letters), Matt Webb (colors)

Summary: When Bastion breaks free of his imprisonment, G. W. Bridge sends SHIELD agents to investigate his former base, the Prospero Clinic. When the agents break contact, Bridge asks Cable to search the clinic. Meanwhile, a confused Bastion returns to the home of his mother figure, Rose. She’s accidentally killed by the authorities, which sends Bastion into a rage. When Cable reaches the clinic, he’s attacked by Machine Man, who’s lost touch with his humanity. Bastion arrives and makes contact with the clinic’s Master Mold unit. Master Mold is drained of its energy as Bastion is transformed into Nimrod.

Continuity Notes: A scan of Bastion’s body reveals that he isn’t human, but is made up of “complex inorganic systems” which are constantly being recreated by “microscopic robots called nanotechs.” When Master Mold is found in the Prospero Clinic, Cable isn’t surprised at all, and even knows for a fact that Master Mold was responsible for the clinic’s “bio-engineering” that turned people into Prime Sentinels. However, Master Mold never appeared in the Zero Tolerance storyline, so there’s no reason for him to know this.

Review: I guess Marvel’s ‘70s nostalgia craze wasn’t quite over yet, as now Machine Man is being dusted off. This is the same writing team behind his short-lived 1999 series, so it’s possible that Machine Man was slated for a monthly title during 1998, but was held back to be a part of the M-Tech line. M-Tech was based on the assumption that the audience automatically cared about a concept if it tied into “technology” in some way, which makes as much sense as assuming that nostalgia alone could revive interest in concepts like Devil Dinosaur, Shang-Chi, and Machine Man (I doubt most of the audience was old enough to actually remember these characters…yes, Machine Man did briefly join the Avengers during the ‘90s, but I don’t think his membership left much of an impression).

The story opens with Machine Man apparently killing a room full of SHIELD agents, which is quite an attention-getter, but the full significance is only felt if you know this obscure character is actually a kind-hearted hero who understands the concept of love better than most humans (I’m basing this on the recap given to him at the very end of the issue). The image of Machine Man, not exactly one of Kirby’s most inspired designs, going on a murderous rampage is faintly ridiculous. Just looking at him, it’s obvious this character is from a different era, one with a significantly lower amount of blood splatter in its superhero comics. Cable’s from the opposite end of the spectrum, although he’s mellowed out by this point in the ‘90s. Aside from his own vague connection to technology, Cable doesn’t have much of a compelling reason to be in this story, and his role probably could’ve been played by any X-character. He’s also adamant that this is his mission and he won’t bring in any of the other X-teams, which is patently absurd. Bastion led a nationwide manhunt of mutants, looted the X-Men’s database, kept Professor Xavier prisoner, revived the Sentinels, and nearly killed his father…Cable shouldn’t be concerned with “needlessly worrying” his allies. He should be leading his own crossover-worthy cadre of mutants against the menace.

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