Review: 2020 Machine Man

 The Machine Man returns!

Written by Tom DeFalco & Christos N. Gage, Art by Mike Hawthorne & Andy MacDonald.

Taking a look at a 2020 Iron Man related comic is starting to become something of a tradition here on Let's Talk About, now isn't it? I've already taken a look at 2020 Iron Heart and 2020 Force Works before. I really like Iron Heart and found that 2020 Force Works had some interesting characters in it. With these two under my belt, I feel liking taking a look at the rest of the 2020 event as well. You know, to see how the rest of it is. The 2020 Iron Man 'core' series is something I'm saving for the very end, so it's another the tie-in issue for now. This time around its 2020 Machine Man. From all of the 2020 titles, this is the one that interested me the least. I know next to nothing about the character of Machine Man. I saw him pop up in Tony Stark: Iron Man from time to time, but that was about it. Not the only one in that boat, I guarantee you. So, is 2020 Machine Man not only a good (tie-in) comic is it also a good introduction to Machine Man?

Well, it's one of those things. Let's dive in.

2020 Machine Man starts with our titular hero in the thick of battle chasing after his ex Jocasta. The entire premise of 2020 Iron Man revolves around an A.I. revolution of shorts. Arno Stark have been stripping A.I. from their free will, with Machine Man and his army fighting to keep this from happening. Jocasta has sadly fallen under Arno's control and even though the two have broken up, Machine Man still loves her deeply. In his attempt to give Jocasta her free-will back, ghosts of Machine Man's past come back to haunt him and makes him start to question his own motivations and place in life.

Unlike 2020 Iron Heart and 2020 Force Works, the story of 2020 Machine Man actually ties into the main 2020 Iron Man event. Go figure! From what I can gather the story is one of those tie-ins that takes place in-between issues of the main event. These type of tie-ins always take a deeper dive into a plot point presented in the main series, giving the reader a deeper dive into that plot-point though is not needed to follow the event's main story. It's more of a d-tour for those who are interested, either falling into one of two categories. Stories that are a worthwhile expansion of the event or just needles padding. In the case of 2020 Machine Man, I've got to admit that the story falls into the latter category.

While competently written it's just not that interesting. It raises an interesting question regarding mental health medicine, but that's about it. The story also could've easily been told in one issue instead of the two that this tie-in is. Part of this is due to some pacing issues, part of this is because the story feels needlessly drawn out. If you isolate the major plot beats, they could have easily fit into just one 22-23 page comic. It almost feels that they were going to, but decided against it last-minute for some reason adding in the backup story to still make each issue proper length. Said backup story is pretty neat though, so I'll give it that.

What I found even more frustrating at the end was that the tie-in does not offer any resolution on its main plot. Machine Man's attempt to free Jocasta from Arno's control is what the story opens on, what Machine Man works towards, but the story ends without Mache Man accomplishing this goal. On the contrary, it's made quite clear that it's something that will be resolved in the main 2020 Iron Man series. It's a tie-in, so that could be partially expected, but it hurts the book's value. It leaves the reader 'unfulfilled' is the best way I can put it.

One of the most interesting panels in the two comics, in my opinion at least.

I've criticized the book a lot, especially when it comes to its story and pacing, but to be fair there some good points here. The artwork is very nice, for one. A bit on the bland side, but nicely done and with some creative moments. The book also serves as a great introduction to the character of Machine Man. It recaps his origin and his character journey throughout the two issues, neatly tying it into the story and his conflict with the essentially brainwashed Jocasta.


2020 Machine Man is not a book I would recommend. If you want to know more about the character of Machine Man or like the 2020 Iron Man event so much then it's a book that you want to pick up.

In any other cases, I would leave these comics be. They are competently put together, but the problems (especially related to its story) just makes it so that I don't feel that there's enough value here.