TEN: HOTLINE TO HADES
by Sam Kato.
Olivia, Jerry and Mr. Machine report the
previous issues attack to the local sheriff, who remains skeptical. Mr. Machine goes to stay with his new human friends as Mr.
Hotline and Krige report the existence of the X-model to their leader, a
suspiciously satanic-looking being called the Monitor, who demands the robot be
captured so he can learn its secrets.
Mr. Hotline and his men do just that,
taking Mr. Machine from the home of his host family as a bomb-draped henchman
remains behind to see that Mr. Machine complies, or it will mean the demise of
his new friends.
Once inside the lair of his mysterious
captors, Mr. Machines limbs are detached from his torso and his headstill
very activeis taken to the Monitor, who wants to know the secrets of the
robots essence, which Mr. Machine takes to mean his soul.
As his head is violently probed by the Monitors technology, Mr.
Machine orders his limbs by remote control to break free from their guards and
come to him, which they do with the help of secreted weapons and a camera where
his head is later reattached.
Whole again, Mr. Machine discovers the
satanic Monitor is actually a hologram projected by an ingenious super computer.
Using sub-sonic powers, Mr. Machine disarms the mad bomber holding his
friends hostage. He destroys the
computer and vows to fight the evil that built the Monitor super computer so
that all of mankind will have the right to think free.
Here, the 2001 series belatedly ends with a
promise of Mr. Machines further adventures in his own magazine, which
ultimately ran from December 1978 to February 1980 for 19 issues.
Artist Barry Smith headed a four part mini-series titled Mr. Machine from
October 1984 to January 1985, at which point the machine with a human soul
ceased his adventures against the one force he could never overcomea
disinterested comic-buying public.
While the Mr. Machine stories are not badthe image of a maddened robot being held back by human captors as it demands to know who it is and why it was created is certainly a powerful way to open a sci fi comic bookthey have nothing to do with the initial focus of the very magazine they are appearing in. The Mr. Machine stories were pure marketing, fun and almost comically derivative, particularly in their almost embarrassing introductions of the superhero-struck Jerry and the green-masked Mr. Hotline, but they were not 2001. If Marvel were to try again, Kirby left them a great springboard with issue seven. It might be nice if they took the dive.