Friday, November 26, 2010

Machine Man vs. the Hulk: Round One! fight!!!

Hang on ! “Hulk has carried many this way.” About twelve miles past Modesto, Freddy checks the road map for Spalding’s “Central City hang-out.”
The Forest Ranger who spots them is working for Jackson, stogie-sporting fat cat and West Coast executive of the worldwide Corporation. Trish Starr asks what Jackson has to gain by kidnapping her; she’s a pawn, he tells her, to bring two foes who’ve interfered with the Corporation destructively together, as the Hulk believes Machine Man’s responsible. This would make the Hulk a murderer, Trish thinks, “...and I’ll be ...what?”

Glide with us past the billboard announcing the ‘birthplace of the Fantastic Four’ here in Central City; follow us to the Mariposa hotel, and the silhouette of “a guest so unique---that his very humanity is in question. It’s the sole survivor of the thinking machine secret project, visited now by his friend Dr. Peter Spalding and his recent nemesis, Colonel Simon Kragg---amused and amazed, respectively, to find him repairing a casually crossed leg. Significantly, he’s spot welding into place a leg that still carries “a few damaged circuits from the day when your troops hit me with their sonic guns (Mmhmm, Machine Man #1, Al tells us.) Peter reminds our sardonic friend they have a Congressional hearing to attend concerning his status as citizen.

The soon-to-be lost character from his Kirby cast, TV reporter Tracy Warner, walks in to be greeted by more cynical Machine Man mirth; he is, after all, a huge story. Senator Stivak, as you’ll find out in Bob’s thread, died “yesterday” (the Captain America guest appearance, #232), and Congressman Brickman’s his newly appointed replacement. (His character is so thinned out by obsession later in the MM revival as to become shrill and one dimensional.) He indefinitely postpones the investigation of Aaron’s rights “if any” and adjourns the meeting. (How do they decide he should be remanded to the custody of Peter Spalding? I suppose it makes some sense; it’s very favorable to Aaron, perhaps in gratitude for acing Ten-For.)

Tracy smooches the rarely-smiling Machine Man, as Peter congratulates him for his “de facto” legal humanity. Col. Stagg offers a hand, acknowledges “we’ve had our differences” and wishes him the best. Aaron correctly reasons it would’ve been best if the hearings had been concluded, as the government can hold these committees over his head.

Meanwhile, Brickman’s set up as a possibly very sinister type, evidenced by his smirking thoughts after being addressed by other committee members.
But let’s join Freddy and ol’ Greenskin at 125 Calvin Lane, where fate has determined the clash to come. Freddy talks him out of leveling the house---Trish might be inside---and to Freddy’s surprise they enter an empty house, with a little Hulking hand. Their search reveals it’s a psychiatrist’s house, and a drawer contains apparent high-caliber pistols; Freddy’s sure “these Corporation guys are everywhere!”

Paul Scheuring’s Meadowlake Milk Truck sits a few hundred yards away---but what is he delivering in the afternoon besides information for Mr. Jackson? Now Peter arrives with Machine Man, who apologizes for rushing off without cleaning it (in M.M.#7---boy did Al and Roger love that title!!)---but not so rushed as to leave the door wide open! MM takes the lead, remembering his Corporation kidnapping. The Hulk’s growl makes Peter lose his pipe...because this is the next thing he sees:

What else can you say? Hulk smashes Aaron through several stands of trees, and they clash louder than a Fred Garvin, Male Prostitute, leisure suit. (Now THAT's reaching back to the times, Saturday Night Live fans.) Peter runs inside to call Kragg, to apparently face a gun held by a desperate young man. MM tries to reason with the Hulk. LOL. Out comes the hand weapons system to enflame the ground, which Hulk rips up and throws away before pouncing on MM and smashing him to pieces.

Hulk decides Spalding is the real target. As he walks away, MM crackles back to life from a beating “worse than Ten-For” (MM 3-6---Al). He activates his “power magnetics” in an attempt to reassemble---but our issue’s cliffhanger leaves him a man apart.

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