Today on the site, Greg Hunter reviews the Machine Man compilation.
Jack Kirby’s Machine Man belongs to multiple worlds, both on the level of plot and in the circumstances of its creation. Kirby devised Machine Man (aka X-51, aka Aaron Stack) during his return to Marvel in the late ’70s, as a character in his loose adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey. Although the company’s license to publish 2001 comics later expired, Machine Man fell under Marvel IP and fell into the Marvel universe, wrestling with rival robots, the US military, and his own existential malaise. The character’s name sums it up—he’s machine and man, an artificial intelligence that insists on its humanity. Machine Man: The Complete Collection covers the character’s brief post-2001 series, including Kirby’s issues (the first nine), a few installments of The Incredible Hulkfeaturing X-51, and issues 10 through 19, for which Steve Ditko provided art. These comics are not the best-remembered work of either artist, but the exceptional talents of Kirby and Ditko, balanced against the stories’ missteps, make the collection a fascinating, multifaceted book—no ordinary mixed bag.
And in more Ditko-related news, Abraham Riesman at New York magazine reports on Steve Ditko in lengthy and lazy fashion by rehashing Sean Howe’s Marvel book and Jonathan Ross’s pathetic documentary, hilariously referring to Paul Levitz and Arlen Schumer as “historians”, and managing to marginalize the last two decades of Ditko’s (frequently brilliant) output as “mail order curios.” And that’s not even the worst part. That comes when Riesman, after Ditko (of course) has declined to be interviewed, interviews the artist’s neighbors about Ditko’s mail (!), and waits in his hallway in order to ambush him, with success! He got him! He got the old codger! Scoop! Fanboy scares old man! What, exactly was the point of stalking Steve Ditko? It was not going to result in an interview, so I guess the idea was to just fuck with an 89 year old artist who, for fifty years has asked for privacy? No point. Just fanboyish masturbatory pleasure.
In other links fun, Bob Eckstein interviewed by Gil Roth.