Reviews (Marvel)

Machine Man #18

(Cover by Rich Buckler and Dave Simons)
Published and © by Marvel, Dec. 1980
[Buy from Mile High]

“Alone Against Alpha Flight!”

Synopsis: A corrupt senator’s plot brings Alpha Flight after Machine Man, who already has his hands full with Madam Menace!

Writer: Tom DeFalco
Penciler: Steve Ditko
Inker: Ditko

Review: There are hints of a good comic here: Madam Menace has some potential, as does the story’s political intrigue. Machine Man’s facial injury and subsequent emotional meltdown offer pathos. And there’s the odd enjoyment of seeing Steve Ditko draw a John Byrne creation instead of the usual vice versa. But Ditko’s work is past its prime here, and writer Tom DeFalco’s effort to match the art’s Silver Age flavor gives the book an infantile feel. In particular, DeFalco’s overuse of adjectives and alliteration, along with Kirbyesque wooden dialogue, distract from whatever kernels of a good story might actually be present.

Grade: C-

Cool factor: Steve Ditko drawing Alpha Flight (though even that’s not as cool as it sounds).

Not-so-cool factor: Awful alliteration and awkward adjectives doom DeFalco’s dumbed-down dialogue.

Notable: Early Alpha Flight appearance (the other half of the team was off guest-starring in X-Men #139-140.)

Character quotable: “Is the lady of the house home? I’ve come to end her ruthless criminal rampage!” — Machine Man, chatting it up Spidey-style.

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8 comments to Machine Man #18

  • Jeremy A. Patterson

    Is is just me, or are Northstar and Aurora BLONDE here?


  • kcekada

    I may have purchased this for the Alpha Flight appearance, but more likely, I paged through the issue and put it back on teh shelf. And yeah, the blonde hair on Northstar and Aurora is annoying.

  • Oliver

    Why am I not surprised about DeFalco’s “dumbed-down dialogue”? His best work, in my opinion, was his first run on Amazing Spider-Man in the 80s.

  • Edo Bosnar

    The cover definitely exhibits an unfamiliarity with the Alpha Flight characters on the part of the artists – not only the coloring gaffe with the blond hair, but even the faces themselves. Byrne and most other artists gave Northstar and Aurora almost elvish features, but here Buckler drew them to look like a pair of Shield agents. And Sasquatch’s head is too small…

  • macsnafu

    This second run for Machine Man (after the original Kirby run) was one of the few places at the time to get a regular Ditko fix. That was enough for me to collect it. Of course, it would have been even better if Ditko had written it, too. DeFalco could have just done the scripting to avoid Ditko’s stilted dialogue. So many missed opportunities…

  • It came a few years later, but my favorite fix for late-Bronze Ditko was his run on Rom. I thought he did some really nice work on that title, and the parade of guest inkers they used was a treat. Still, any Ditko is a treat (except for maybe Chuck Norris Karate Kommandos — even I might have to pass on that one!)


  • Bruce

    I’m a huge Ditko fan, but I would agree this issue isn’t some of his best work. I don’t think he was so much past his prime as he was uninspired.

    If you check out some of his independent or self-published work from the 1980s (Static, in particular), it stacks up with the best work of Ditko’s career. But by this point, Ditko seemingly was more interested in stories related to his philosophical beliefs, rather than traditional, mainstream superhero work. Still, any Ditko comic is worth picking up, in my book.

  • Bruce:

    You make a good point. His indie stuff remained sharp. And, as I mention above, I quite enjoyed his Rom run, too. That work might have been nice because of the various inkers, though, who all seemed to relish getting a chance to work with Ditko.


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