Machine Man

Machine Man


caption=The two identities of Machine Man - Aaron Stack (foreground) and Machine Man (background).
Art by Brandon Peterson.
character_name=Machine Man
publisher=Marvel Comics
debut="2001: A Space Odyssey" #8 (July 1977)
creators=Jack Kirby
alliances=S.H.I.E.L.D. Secret Avengers Nextwave Avengers West Coast Avengers
Heavy Metal
aliases=Aaron Stack, Mister Machine
powers=Telescoping arms & legs
Various installed weapons|

Machine Man (X-51/also called Aaron Stack) is a fictional character created by writer/artist Jack Kirby for Marvel Comics. The character, an android, was created in "" #8 (July 1977), a comic written and drawn by Kirby featuring concepts based on the eponymous Stanley Kubrick film and Arthur C. Clarke novel. Shortly thereafter, Machine Man spun off into his own Kirby-created series.

Publication history

Volume 1

Machine Man originally appeared in the pages of "" #8 (July 1977), which was written and drawn by Jack Kirby. He would go on to appear in his own self-titled series in 1978.

This title featured Machine Man entering the mainstream Marvel Universe. Jack Kirby wrote and drew the first nine issues, which dealt with the title character's status as a fugitive from the military after the death of his creator, and his first interactions with mankind. The book was cancelled at the end of 1978 with X-51 finally standing up to the military.

Machine Man appeared next in a three issue story arc within the pages of The Incredible Hulk #235-237. The robot found himself battling the green giant within the suburban setting of his human friend, Dr. Peter Spaulding. By the end of the storyline, he incurred a complete system shutdown, leading to the events portrayed in his re-launched monthly series.

The title was re-launched in issue #10 after a nine-month hiatus. Status quo in the book changed with Machine Man now living amongst humanity, and dealing with his own new-found emotions. Marv Wolfman came aboard as the new writer, partnered with artist Steve Ditko, which helped set a different tone from Kirby's previous stories. Issue 15 saw a new writer, Tom DeFalco, taking over the writing chores. The title lasted until issue #19, ending in February 1980.

Volume 2

In October 1984 - January 1985, the Machine Man title was resurrected, in a four-issue mini-series written by Tom DeFalco with art by Herb Trimpe (breakdowns only, issues #1-3) and Barry Windsor-Smith (finishes only, issues #1-3 & full art for issue #4), with Windsor-Smith also coloring the entire mini-series & co-plotting issue #4 with DeFalco. This series turned out to be one of the most popular of all the Machine Man titles, tying with previous continuity, but with the action set in the distant cyberpunk future of 2020, starting with Machine Man's reassembly.

The mini-series was first reprinted as a 96 page trade paperback in 1988 (ISBN 0-07135-458-6), with brand new cover art by Barry Windsor-Smith.

The mini-series was republished again in 1994 as two double-size books, with the name "Machine Man 2020". Characters from this alternate future have made appearances in other Marvel books, namely Arno Stark, the mercenary Iron Man 2020.

In 1990, Machine Man guest-starred in "Iron Man Annual" #11 (part of the "Terminus Factor" storyline). That story created strong hints that the 2020 Machine Man may turn out not to be the true X-51, but instead a duplicate created by Sunset Bain.

Volume 3

In 1999 Marvel brought the character back in a series titled "X-51, The Machine Man". This series gave Machine Man a programming malfunction in that he would uncontrollably attack any mutant he came across. He was given a drastically more robotic look and his powers were vastly changed. The series lasted twelve issues.

Fictional character biography

Machine Man, whose real name is X-51, was the last of a series of sentient robots created at the Broadhurst Center for the Advancement of Mechanized Research in Central City, California, by robotics expert Dr. Abel Stack for the US Army. However, all previous 50 experimental robots went mad as they achieved sentience and became psychotic, due to a lack of identity. X-51 was the only survivor, as he was treated as a son by Stack and given a human face mask as well as being exposed to one of the monoliths from . After Stack died trying to protect him, X-51 assumed the human name Aaron Stack and escaped confinement, only to be relentlessly pursued by the army. X-51 was named "Mister Machine" in issue #8 of the 10 issue run of 2001. When the character received his own comic, the moniker "Mister Machine" was never used. Also, in retelling his origin, there was no reference to the encounter with the monolith, perhaps due to licensing reasons. Kirby called Machine Man "the Robot with a soul",the second Kirby creation to be so endowed. The first was a character named the Recorder, who appeared in Thor, and even looked a great deal like Machine Man. In Thor #162 he was acknowledged to be alive because he had a soul, the soul also being what Machine Man claimed he had that made him part of humanity.

While on the run, the newly-christened Machine Man ("Mister Machine" in his very first appearances) initiated contact with humanity in order to better understand it. ["2001: A Space Odyssey" #8] After being captured and later freed, Machine Man was found by psychiatrist Peter Spaulding. He also battled Col. Krag's troops. ["Machine Man" Vol. 1 #1-2] Soon after that, he first encountered Curtiss Jackson. ["Machine Man" Vol. 1 #6] Alongside the Hulk, he battled Curtiss Jackson. ["Incredible Hulk" Vol. 2 #235-237] Soon after that, he was redesigned and rebuilt by Dr. Oliver Broadhurst. ["Machine Man" Vol. 1 #10] He then first encountered the Fantastic Four. ["Machine Man" Vol. 1 #15] He then met mechanic "Gears" Garvin, and then battled Baron Brimstone. ["Machine Man" Vol. 1 #16] He also battled Madame Menace. ["Machine Man" Vol. 1 #17] He then first encountered Aurora, Northstar, and Sasquatch of Alpha Flight. ["Machine Man" Vol. 1 #18] Spaulding and Garvin set-up Machine Man with a human identity as Aaron Stack, insurance investigator for the Delmar Insurance Company, but he continued having adventures as a superhero on the side.

In a meeting with the Thing of the Fantastic Four, he also first met and fell in love with another sentient robot, Jocasta. Alongside the Thing and Jocasta, he battled Ultron. However, during the battle, Machine Man witnessed the seeming destruction of Jocasta by Ultron. ["Marvel Two-in-One" #92-93]

In more recent appearances, he has fought alongside the Avengers, which lead to the invitation to become a team reservist. Later he was captured by S.H.I.E.L.D., who wanted to use his technology to create another Deathlok. He helps the X-Men and Douglock against the villainous Red Skull, who had taken over the Helicarrier where Machine Man was held.

He helped the X-Men again against Bastion and his Sentinels. As a consequence, he was infected by Sentinel programming, assuming a more robotic look in the subsequent series "X-51", and losing self-control whenever he was faced with a mutant. During this series he was on the run from Sebastian Shaw, who wants his technology for himself. Because of his new programming, while seeking aid from the Avengers, he attacks Justice and Firestar. Because of his actions against Justice and Firestar, X-51's membership in the Avengers is revoked. At the end of "X-51", X-51 encountered one of the monoliths and disappeared, brought into the presence of the monolith's creators, the cosmic beings known as the Celestials.

"Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E."

Warren Ellis and Stuart Immonen's "Nextwave" series sees Machine Man join a team formed by the Highest Anti-Terrorism Effort, or H.A.T.E. (a subsidiary of the Beyond Corporation©) to fight Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction. Now preferring simply to be called Aaron, Machine Man is partnered with Monica Rambeau, Tabitha Smith, Elsa Bloodstone and The Captain, and the team soon discovers that H.A.T.E. are funded by the Beyond Corporation©, leading them to go rogue and carry out their mission on their own prerogative.Calling humans "fleshy ones" and expressing a degree of pride in his "roboty parts" - which he uses to kill Fin Fang Foom - Aaron has developed a fondness for alcohol, stating "My robot brain needs beer" on regular occasions. He is not especially popular with his teammates because of his self-important attitude, and as is learned in a flashback that after being brought to space by the Celestials at the conclusion of his previous series, he was dumped back on Earth because the space-gods considered him to be a "complete and utter ☠☠☠☠." ("☠☠☠☠" representing an unspecified, but extremely offensive, profanity throughout the Nextwave series) He appears to have a rather serious attraction to Elsa Bloodstone and stares at her chest constantly, much to her chagrin.

The Initiative

Machine Man appears in a flashback to "Iron Man" v1 #168 (March, 1983) in "Iron Man/Captain America: Casualties of War". In trying to convince Captain America of the rightness of his position, Iron Man tells of the time Machine Man came to visit him. Machine Man was seeking to compare notes with Iron Man, thought to be a robot by Machine Man. Drunk, irate, and under considerable stress from the machinations of Obadiah Stane, Iron Man attacks Machine Man and almost kills two of his own employees. At the last possible second, Machine Man's extendable arm pushes them out of the way. Iron Man uses this incident as the need for accountability in the superhero population.

Aaron and Sleepwalker are recruited to aid Ms. Marvel in finding her team-mate Araña as part of a S.H.I.E.L.D. strikeforce known as Operation Lightning Storm. In the promotional cover for this appearance, he is in the costume which he wore during "Nextwave". [ [ Ms. Marvel #18, Marvel's August Solicitations] ] , a costume he keeps during his tenure in the group, even displaying his altered, nonsensical, zany personality developed during the former limited series in place of his previous logical and friendly self. He reveals that Agent Maria Hill from S.H.I.E.L.D. offered him financial compensation to join the Initiative, enraging Ms. Marvel, who had supported it from the beginning, for free. He spends much of his time in Chile and aboard the Minicarrier 13, Ms. Marvel's headquarters at the time, antagonizing and criticizing every available agent.

In addition to financial compensation, S.H.I.E.L.D. has also provided Aaron with a Life Model Decoy of Monica Rambeau, which is programmed to cry for him. [Ms Marvel 26] Keeping him in his new role of comic relief, Aaron has been shown using the LMD body as a replacement part for his damaged body, going so far to offer "womanly advices" to a deeply shocked Arana.

Marvel Zombies

He has accepted an assignment on behalf of A.R.M.O.R. to accompany Jocasta to retrieve a blood sample from the "Marvel Zombies" universe, and the two are transported there by Portal. ["Marvel Zombies 3" #1]

Powers and abilities

Machine Man was constructed by unnamed computer engineering specialists under Dr. Oliver Broadhurst at the Broadhurst Center for the Advancement of Mechanized Research; Dr. Abel Stack was his chief programmer. Machine Man's robotic materials, design, and construction (titanium alloy) provide him with a number of abilities, as does his adamantium composition. He possesses superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, and reflexes. He is an expert on his own construction and repair. Machine Man has superhuman visual acuity. He possesses an above normal intellect, with a capacity for unlimited self-motivated activity, creative intelligence and human-like emotions. He has superhuman cybernetic analytical capabilities, including the ability to process information and make calculations with superhuman speed and accuracy.

Machine Man is powered by solar energy. He can also draw power from several different external energy sources, if needed. Machine Man has the ability to telescope his arms and legs to a length of 100 feet. Machine Man's hands are equipped with variable payload fingers, some routinely carried in his fingers, other stored in hidden recesses in his belt. His fingers contain a different variety of weapons, including: gas chromatograph, laser interferometer, micro-pulse radar, audiometer, seismometer, gravity wave detector, pulse-code modulator, standard computer input/outputs, radio beacon, all-wave transceiver, laser cutting torch/weapon, projecting heat, cold or electricity; one of his fingers has been shown to contain a bullet-firing mechanism that uses .357 Magnum ammunition. He has the ability of flight under his own power through the means of anti-gravity disks.

As Aaron Stack, he is also a trained insurance investigator.

In Nextwave, he has become a living Swiss Army knife of sorts, containing various tools and weapons for a multitude of situations, both useful and esoteric. When asked if he could impregnate a human woman from several feet away, Aaron simply states "I am full of very useful devices."

Other versions

Delmar Insurance

In "Nextwave" #10, Forbush Man forced each member of Nextwave to experience life in 'Forbush Vision'; they were cursed to suffer in a boring or mundane personal hell. Aaron's nightmare was life as an insurance adjustor for Delmar Insurance in Central City, USA. Bashing his head into a personal computer several times out of depression, he decapitated himself...only to answer the phone a moment later. Stack was freed from the nightmare by the intervention of fellow Nextwave member Tabitha Smith.

Earth X

Machine Man was also one of the main characters of the Earth X trilogy. Transformed by a monolith into a transparent version of himself, Aaron was forced to become the new Watcher by a blind Uatu, the previous Watcher, who had not viewed any event on the planet for 10 years. Tricking Uatu, who had attempted to force Machine Man to reject his humanity, Machine Man managed to use his access to Watcher technology and data to help humanity defeat the coming Celestials, by revealing to Earth's superhero community the true origins of mankind. After defeating the Celestials, Machine Man used his newfound position to contact parallel Earths to help them eradicate the Celestial menace.

Marvel Zombies

Machine Man and his Nextwave counterparts are also a team in this reality; they are destroyed off-panel by the zombie Power Pack.

Machine Man 2020

Machine Man was reactivated in the year 2020 by a group of outlaw scavengers called Midnight Wreckers (led by X-51's old friend Gears Garvin), and forced to battle his old enemy, the industrialist ice queen Sunset Bain, as well as mercenary Arno Stark, the amoral Iron Man of 2020. ["Machine Man" Vol. 2 #1-4] In "" #1 , Iron Man 2020 claimed to the Earth X Machine Man that he had killed Machine Man 2020, despite the mini-series clearly depicting Arno Stark's decisive defeat at Machine Man's hands. It is possible that this Machine Man was actually a copy made by Sunset Bain in Iron Man Annual #11.

Queen's Vengeance

When Morgan le Fay restructured reality in volume three of "Avengers" #1-3, nearly all Avengers, past and present, were transformed into the Queen's Vengeance, a sort of medieval-themed Avengers. Machine Man became Sir MacHinery, an obvious play on the word machinery. He can be seen on the cover of issue #2, behind Hercules.

In other media


In the "Spider-Man Unlimited" animated TV series, Machine Man is an old robot that once served the High Evolutionary. Spider-Man saved him from disassembly in the 5th episode ("Steel Cold Heart"), and he joined forces with Spider-Man and the Human Rebels in their struggle against the High Evolutionary's regime. This robot is one of a group of Machine Men, who switches sides after not wanting to be scrapped following serious damage in a battle. He is known as X-51, and the design of these machine men is somewhat reminiscent of the original Machine Man, especially in terms of color and abilities. However, they are substantially bulkier than Machine Man's human sized physique, drawing inspiration from the design of the Sentinels from X-Men.


Despite the appearance of Nextwave characters in other Marvel titles, in 2006 Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada stated that Nextwave's setting was in a universe separate from the main Marvel continuity. [Wade Gum (2006-07-01). "Heroes Con: Joe Quesada Panel",] However, recent issues of Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, as well as , consistently place Nextwave's activities in mainstream continuity.


* "2001: A Space Odyssey" #8-10 (1978)
* "Machine Man" Volume 1 #1-19 (1978-1981)
* "Machine Man" Volume 2 #1-4 (1984, mini-series; later reprinted as "Machine Man 2020" #1 and 2 in 1994)
* "Machine Man" TPB (1988, reprinting Volume 2 #1-4) (ISBN 0-07135-458-6)
* "Cable/Machine Man ’98" #1 (1998 annual)
* "Machine Man/Bastion ’98" #1 (1998 annual)
* "X-51" #0-12
* "Nextwave: Agents of H.A.T.E." #1-12 (2006-2007)


External links

* [ Machine Man at]
* [ Midnight Wreckers page on Marvel Unofficial Handbook]

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