• Review - Machine Man #18

    Writer: Tom DeFalco
    Artist: Steve Ditko
    Date Published: Dec 1980
    Alpha Appearance: Sasquatch, Northstar, Aurora
    Period in Alpha Flight's history: After Incredible Hulk Annual #8, before Contest of Champions, concurrent with Uncanny X-Men #139-140.

    While Machine Man battles his own menaces a corrupt American senator sends Alpha Flight after him.

    For non-fans:

    You don't need to know Alpha Flight to read this issue. It references a couple of incidents in their history, but nothing you really, really need to know to understand the issue.
    Everything you do need to know, it explains.

    This issue was published right in the middle of the Bronze Age, my favourite time for comics. However, it feels like a throwback to an earlier, simpler time.
    And that's how I'd categorise it - simple. Simple artwork, simple storytelling.
    For those who like that sort of thing, that is the sort of thing they like. I prefer a little more sophistication than this has, which is part of why I prefer the Bronze Age.
    It feels like it's trying to copy Spider-Man, and J. Jonah Jameson's crusade against the character. It feels like a shameless lift.
    Madame Menace (!) has a plan to capture a robot, that apparently involves surrounding him with bare-handed men who punch it a lot. Really?

    There are a few typos in it; like 'a reign of blows', 'tracks of land', etc...

    Tom DeFalco seems to know his Alpha Flight; he's got them meeting in Department H, below Parliament (is this the first time? I think that's in X-Men somewhere, but it's gotta be close).
    They even have a Danger Room-like set-up under there.

    He knows Walt is a bio-physicist (he has him using a bio-scanner that he presumably built himself). The twins are party people.
    Walt is more serious here than usual, but that's not too distracting.
    The twins have white hair in this issue, and blond on the cover. Man, they change a lot.

    I'm not into the way the twins' light powers were portrayed:

    It doesn't give the feeling of real light that Byrne's (later) portrayal did in #4, by washing out all colour and just having contrast. There's wayyyy too much black in the panel for that much 'light', and the yellow adds nothing.

    In terms of AF, this is really Sasquatch's show. They use his fight with Hulk in Hulk Annual #8 to turn the Canadian government against Machine Man (it, uh, makes sense in context), and he totally wales on MM in a solo scene. (Later, the twins join him for a different fight against MM and the bad guys.) However, at one point, MM goes mad and beats him up... it's a bit unlikely.

    Da Juice:

    All that said, this is a pleasant read. I like this Machine Man better than what I've seen of his modern incarnation; he's more of a person, and more likeable.
    Alpha are given things to do, and portrayed as sympathetic and tough. They even seem to be around for what looks like a big change in the main character's life. They're in more than half the issue (estimate only), and are treated well.

    On its own:
    6 maple leafs
    For Alpha-Flightness:
    6 maple leafs
    8 maple leafs
    Comments 3 Comments
    1. Flightpath07's Avatar
      Flightpath07 -
      Love this issue. Nice review!
    1. Phil's Avatar
      Phil -
      Not long after this DeFalco went on to use Sasquatch and then AF in Marvel Two-In-One #83-84 (and later Annual #7 and #96 to a lesser extent) which I really enjoyed.

      And many years later Shaman in Wolverine #110 come to think of it.
    1. Le Messor's Avatar
      Le Messor -
      I'm sure I'll get around to reviewing those issues eventually...