Leaping out of the pages of his origin in the last three issues of 2001 – A SPACE ODYSSEY, X-51 got a new name and his own series in 1978 (though the 2001 connection isn’t mentioned anywhere in #1, despite it being footnote-happy 1970s Marvel, presumably for some sort of trademark or copyright reason).
“Machine Man” opens up with Machine Man rescuing a hiker who somehow wound up hanging on a cliff. I like this page, which is a layout one doesn’t associate with Kirby, but which works nicely here.
It’s a layout that doesn’t work if overused, but it does fit the situation here, and gives a nice feeling of vertigo in the first panel, and danger in the next two.
Anyway, after the events of 2001, Machine Man is walking the Earth, like Cain in Kung Fu. Oddly people don’t seem that shocked by his abilities like flight, extendable arms, superhuman strength and all that, accepting that it’s all experimental equipment he’s wearing. Whatever. He gets a ride from a psychiatrist who asks too many questions, so he takes off, only to be attacked by the army, still under the command of Colonel Kragg.
Fun start to what would be an uneven, but interesting, short-lived series. Royer inks the 17 page story (and really, man, 17 pages of story in a 36 page book? Who thought that was a good idea?), Giacoia inks the cover and Kirby provides a text page about some of the themes of machine sentience he plans to explore in the series.