Saturday, December 4, 2010

Ditko draws a Master of the Mystic Arts!


“Baron Brimstone and his Sinister Satan Squad!”
A Journey into Far Out Fantasy by Tom DeFacto and Steve Ditko
w/Bob Sharen, D. Albers, Denny O’Neil, Jim Shooter


Stack and idiot co-worker Eddie Harris tour Chem-Solar Corporation as investigators for Delmar Insurance. Aaron notes to himself Eddie takes nothing serious outside of baseball scores. “A highly-amplified microwave transmitter” demonstration melts through a block of titanium. They believe it will lead to a break-through in powerful data transmissions across the stars. With a burst from his finger tips and a smile on his face, from the green smoke suddenly appears Baron Brimstone. Eddie mistakes a mock-evacuation for show for them, but Machine Man feels the fear and panic. His clothes are hidden quickly in his legs, and he’s racing up the side of the wall using gravity negation to pinpoint the uproar.


Proclaiming himself a master of the mystic arts, Baron B evokes a bullet-deflecting shield, and then “a spell of slumber” while he nabs the “Sol-Mac.” One extended fist greeting later, the surprised Baron contrasts the witticisms with the emotionless voice (a little different than the way I heard him, but oh well). The Living Robot keeps up the snappy patter, braving a radiant beam before lifting a wooden table. The Sol Mac beam, however, leaves him defenseless, and beneath the collapsed table MM’s chest plate is exposed and his energy systems are incapable of battle. Brimstone brags he could kill Machine Man but won’t, fleeing instead with a warning. “I’d tremble in fear, but my internal stabilizers won’t let me!” With his auxiliary power, MM escapes the firing police.

Now how Gears Garvin can apply a refractory coating...I guess he’s just welding on the chest plate that already has that capacity...anyway, our low-tech genius fixes him up. Does Aaron believe in magic? He has enough trouble believing in flesh-and-blood human beings. :-D


Gears takes him back to his sleeping quarters for some solid gold insulation, while MM mentally notes how humans “are the only creature capable of surviving amid their own debris.” Turns out, Gears has two wedding rings, but no Mrs. Garvin “after I blew our honeymoon stash on parts for my hog.” No regrets: she’s had three husbands, he still has the bike. He plans to hammer these out into protection for Aaron’s brain casing and chest plates.


Next up, we meet Brimstone’s two enforcers, boxer Hammer Harrison with his “diamond hard” steel gloves and Snake Marston, unsmiling contortionist. I met them first in another DeFalco joint, my jump-on point as a monthly collector, Marvel Team-Up #138 (with the Sandman!). Brimstone and co. rough up a mobster rival. He continues claiming his powers are mystic, but back at the ranch we find he has a hybrid of true mystic abilities and simulated ones aided by technology. They plan to steal the components needed to mass produce the Sol-Mac.


At the office, Eddie notes to Maggie how personally involved Aaron seems on this case. He’s handed specs courtesy of Mr. Benjamin through Pamela Quinn, who he considers “sweet and nice...so different than the other humans I’ve encountered!” One of her contacts calls even as Aaron formulates a pattern from the multiple robberies involving Brimstone. She shortly meets a man named Dawson, but before he can drop a dime, Marston’s wrapped all around him, and Pam’s knocked cold by the Hammer. (Ouch.)

Dawson’s dead, but they take Pam for questioning. (Hardly ever a good plan.) MM’s using a relay he’s rigged up to communicate with the data base in Compucord. He reasons a large quantity of gold is necessary for shielding purposes, and he rules out some possibilities. I guess since this is a race against time, figuring the place out and heading over via boot skates is the Machine Man thing to do.

Tune in tomorrow!

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