Thursday, September 9, 2010

Father, Son, Holy Ghost

Dr. Spalding: “I’ve drawn back your brain unit, Machine Man! Have I done it correctly?”---this is exactly why I love Jack Kirby’s stories. That the speaker is a psychiatrist is just pop culture excellence. Unique!
“Would you fight for those who fear and hate you? It’s a very tough decision to make---especially when you have more in common with the enemy than those you must defend! Here is a Heavy question, to be resolved in cosmic fury!”---opening caption from Jack Kirby.

[IMG][/IMG] Aaron’s face
Ten For face

“Father, Son, and Holy Ghost”

MM 4 continues: The injured soldiers found in Ten-For’s wake subvert any poetic justice Machine Man feels over the Army’s dust-up with the machine man from another galaxy. Yet the hatred in Kragg’s voice for Machine Man’s existence---for the entire conception of his being---floods him with despair. He’s overheard the alarm to the big brass to act; Kragg’s advised not to pursue Ten-For, as his regiment’s been “stomped flat!” For all their distinctions as beings, Machine Man concludes he’s now lumped in, not only with his x-model predecessor, but with this menace, unstoppable, he’s sure, save for the efforts of ---himself? But what place does he have in a line of defense preparing to snuff his own life without remorse? He feels like the Hunchback of Notre Dame, scorned for his appearance, and if you my friend have ever known such a feeling, your heart might be just a little wider for the experience.

The visage of his father floats before his eyes in his lonely agony, reminding him: I gave my life for you. Would a man do that for a mere machine? If your father sacrifices of himself for you, are you not special? And if he would die for you, are you not worth the ultimate price a man might pay?

“Yes...a dedicated scientist might sacrifice himself to protect a unique invention!” says a depressingly disconnected Machine Man.
“Don’t reject me” speaks his father. “You above all should know the pain inflicted by such an act!”
“Go away! You’re not my father! I was kept in your home only to be conditioned as a human being...”

“That’s the cold, cruel statement of a cynical man! Do you hear me, Aaron? I said MAN!!”
“Stop it! Stop it! I’m not a man—and you’re not alive!”

“Then you would reduce me to a phantom...and yourself---to a thing of metal?!”

“It’s the truth, isn’t it? You’re an image, triggered by my memory banks---and if that doesn’t convince you, take a good look at the reality behind this face!”

“My humanity consists of nothing more than a welded mask!”

“How deeply hurt you must be---to say such a thing! I’m terribly sorry, son!”

“Must you keep calling me son?!? You know full well that I’m the product of some secret government project!”

“Something happened to the products of that work, Aaron—something that baffled their creators---the wonderful mystery that binds us to each other!”
“I’m not human, I tell you!”

“You’re my son—and with or without that mask you cannot kill the love we had for each other!
If that love wasn’t real, you’d have readjusted your memory circuits to shut me out! Now, stop acting like a child and reclaim your face. It’s not the source of your problem.”
“Yes, father,” he says, kneeling obediently.

So, as he hears his father---how he does this, I let you interpret---Machine Man welds his face back into place. Now he sees this disaster as an opportunity to prove his value to humankind. They’re still on his trail, though; a soldier has the drop on him. Machine Man volunteers to put his hands up, then telescopes them into the trees to pull himself off the ground.

Now he tries a dimensional transfer. (I didn’t have #3 until very recently, so I didn’t realize Ten-For’s escape/ invasion plan was the origin point for this power.) It seems one of the blasts in #1 has taken out his anti-grav power for the duration. He takes a chance, not knowing the coordinates of his re-assembled molecules. (Privately, I think he loves blowing minds, despite his protests about attracting undue attention.) He reassembles at a diner counter, excuses himself with a jest, then finds his appearance on the streets of Central City a bit distracting to others. His boot-springs hurtle him atop a police car, speeding towards confrontation with Ten-For.

Ten-For sneers at his continued efforts and misplaced loyalty, while congratulating his quick recovery. Now the arrogant cyber being’s face hinges open, to reveal a laser cannon of devastating proportions, and Machine Man responds with intense flames from his hand weapons system. Ten-For continues to rail about the inevitable Autocron invasion, which requires a signal from himself, so he ignites his boot jets and flies away, dissipating the flames. He knows Machine Man still has the dimensional transfer effect, with which he can quickly end the Autocron’s plans.

Machine Man’s telescoping arms snag him a ride on a helicopter. Now he pushes his anger aside, determined “this time there will be no battle!” He drops from the sky into the street beside Ten-For, who reveals the pedestrians around him are frozen in stasis---and if Machine Man utilizes the Effect, they will go with him! “While you’re making your mind up,” he grins, “I’ll be sending a transmission to the Autocron fleet!” His hand weaves a Kirby-esque apparatus, while all Earth hangs in balance.

NEXT: Day of the Non-Hero!
Now that’s my kind of melodrama.

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