Slowly but surely, the first appearance of Machine Man has been on the rise thanks to an off-the-cuff comment from the screenwriters of Infinity War and Endgame.
Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have written a combined five MCU films, with two of Marvel Studios’ biggest hits under their belts. When they mentioned they would like to write a Machine Man script, fans understandably took notice.
Before I talk about those Machine Man key issues, let me be clear: there is no serious talk of Machine Man being brought to live-action that has been made public. There haven’t even been rumors of him being incorporated into the MCU. But…that doesn’t mean it can’t happen. As I have pointed out before, Marvel Studios has an affinity for the more obscure and quirky characters (Rocket and Groot come to mind), and the theme of recent movies has been more and more cosmic and science-fiction based. While it’s not likely that Marvel’s version of Inspector Gadget will come to the big screen anytime soon, there’s nothing that says it can’t happen.
That being said, sales for his first appearance have been gaining popularity among collectors since last month. Is this related to Markus and McFeely’s comments? That’s a likely possibility, but these days, all the old Bronze Age debuts are on the way up, so it’s hard to say precisely.
In the 1970s, Jack Kirby owned the market on cosmic comics. Not only did he create The Eternals, the New Gods, and the Forever People, he wrote and drew Marvel’s adaptation of the Arthur C. Clarke novel and Stanley Kubrick film, 2001: A Space Odyssey. Following the success of the comic in the “treasury edition,” Kirby pulled from the novel, the film, and an unused version of the script to expand on the 2001 universe.
In the pages of 2001 #8, Kirby introduced Mister Machine, an android who gained sentience thanks to the Monolith seen in the film. Although his fellow sentient machines went on a rampage and were ultimately destroyed, Mister Machine (aka, X-51) survived the events. Soon thereafter, Kirby rechristened Mister Machine as Machine Man and introduced him into the Marvel Universe’s Earth 616.
After gaining a following in the 2001 comics, X-51 crossed into the Earth 616 continuity in his first self-titled series. Over the years, Machine Man would go on to star in three volumes of his own title. While the character had a modest following, it wasn’t enough to keep the series past the nineteenth issue.
Prices have been going up lately. A year ago, a 9.8 averaged $91. It hasn’t sold for less than $100 since mid-May with a 90-day fair market value of $129. One copy sold for as much as $175 in July, but more recently another near-mint-plus brought $120.
In 1984, Machine Man returned in a limited series. While these issues aren’t overly popular outside the hardcore X-51 fan, there’s no denying the beauty in Herbe Trimpe and Barry Windsor-Smith’s interpretation. The cover for issue #1 down to the font choice for the title’s lettering is science-fiction magic. In recent years, a 9.8 M.M. #1 has jumped in value. After years of selling in the double figures, a copy sold for $197 in 2017 and $125 this past August.
On a side note, Machine Man’s solo adventures did produce their share of first appearances. Most were forgettable adversaries, but the first volume of Machine Man did introduce the world to Jack O’Lantern. He would go on to become the second Hobgoblin, though he has appeared numerous times over the years as a pumpkin-masked minor villain with a cult following.
With Marvel stacking the lineup for Disney+ and the ever-expanding MCU, there are plenty of avenues with which to introduce Machine Man. He’s such a lovable, oddball character that I can see a director incorporating him into a movie or Disney+ series, even if it’s only a cameo.
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