2ZP45-9-X-51 was originally designed to be a killer as part of a US Army project to build robot soldiers. While all of the other robots in the series went insane after gaining sentience, X-51, who has been called "the robot with a soul", kept his sanity. This was due to the fact that he was raised as the human son of his creator, Dr. Abel Stack, who later died in an attempt to protect his "son" from a bomb implant meant to destroy X-51.
Although, he originally acted out of self-preservation as a fugitive, a run-in with a woman and her nephew on the side of the road and a connection he made to The Monolith inspired him that he could be a force for good.
The character was created by Jack Kirby and first appeared in 2001: A Space Odyssey #8, although he was known as Mister Machine until Machine Man #1. The name change was due to licensing issues with a toy also named Mister Machine. He also existed outside of Marvel canon, with Marvel Comics being published in the universe 2001: A Space Odyssey series took place. One character even described Stack as being just like a Marvel superhero.
Mid-way into his title, the writing and art chores fell to Tom De Falco and veteran artist (and Spider-Man co-creator) Steve Ditko and later Barry Windsor-Smith.
X-51 spent the most part of his first years pursued by the government; most notably Miles Brickman, a senator who wished to use Machine Man to further his political career, and Colonel Kragg, who had lost his eye and several men to earlier models. Along the way, X-51 made friends with the likes of psychiatrist Peter Spaulding and mechanic Gears Garvin. Wanting to understand humans more, he took a job working at an insurance company where he developed a predictable unrequited love with his co-worker, Pam Quinn.
In his early career, he also fought a number of super villains, such as Baron Brimstone and Jack o Lantern, and had several encounters with various superheroes, like the Fantastic Four and the Hulk. He met Jocasta, the robotic "bride" of Ultron, after she was rejected from the Avengers, and the two briefly fell in love before Ultron destroyed Jocasta. Not long after, Machine Man formed an alliance with the Avengers where he became a team reservist for the West Coast team.
His status with the Avengers was ultimately revoked after he was exposed to and infected by Sentinel technology, which caused him to lose self-control around mutants, eventually attacking two mutant members of the Avengers. At the end of his second eponymous series, he encountered a monolith and was transported to the presence of the creators of the monolith, the Celestials.
When he appeared as a member of Nextwave, his personality had shifted. He had a poor opinion of humans, which he called "fleshy ones." Nextwave was intended to be satirical and outside of continuity. However, Machine Man's new personality proved popular, and all subsequent appearances were portrayed relatively close to his Nextwave personality.
His most recent appearances, especially the second Iron Man 2020 event, he had since given up on chasing a sense of humanity for himself and instead leaned into his mechanized identity. He cast off his human-like skin and fought for the rights of artificially intelligent beings.
Major Story Arcs
America vs. Machine Man
After escaping the US Army, Aaron spent most of his time on the run being a “Good Samaritan,” where he crossed paths with psychiatrist, Peter Spaulding. Together, they are able to match the deep space SOS transmission that Aaron receives to the ravings of a man Spaulding thought was delusional. Knowing now the man speaks the truth, they follow his instructions to build a trans-dimensional space-time bridge and accidentally save Ten-For, an invasion scout for the Autocron Empire, who destroys the bridge device as soon as he appears.
When the military finally track Aaron’s location, Ten-For mistakes their attack on Aaron to be an attack on himself, forcing Aaron to defend his own hunters. When Aaron proves himself formidable to Ten-For, Ten-For calls on his people for a full invasion. With a galactic fleet incoming, Aaron is able to hypnotize Ten-For and adjust his power supply into a bomb. He then teleports Ten-For to the fleet, taking them out.
Thanks to his heroic actions, Aaron would get a chance to avoid destruction through a congressional hearing. Although public perception was on his side, officials at the US Army still wanted him decommissioned. The process was delayed since Aaron was dealing with threats from The Corporation. However, the hearing ultimately concluded that Aaron was a de facto human.
The Corporation was interested in studying and replicating Machine Man’s tech. They kidnapped Spaulding to blackmail Aaron into switching places with him, which he did. However, once Spaulding was safe, Aaron tried to escape multiple times, testing The Corporation’s patience. Aaron was eventually left for dead in a lab set to self-destruct, but he was able to dig his way to safety. Holding a grudge, The Corporation would kidnap Trish Star, an ally of Hulk, and frame Aaron, hoping their two enemies would take each other out.
Hulk would hide and wait at Spaulding’s house for Aaron to come home from the congressional hearing. The two would fight while Aaron tried to talk sense into Hulk. Eventually, Aaron would spot The Corporation spy watching over them. He tracked the Power Broker with the spy's radio to the nearby city. With Hulk’s attention now on Power Broker, Aaron had to protect the city from collateral damage, eventually saving Trish and mesmerizing Hulk to stop him from smashing things.
After his fight with the Hulk, Aaron was badly damaged. A short circuit reprogrammed his brain enabling his self-destruct. Spaulding brought his body to Dr. Broadhurst from the original robot experiment, who fixed Aaron’s programming and removed many of his extraneous weapons to deal with Aaron’s high energy demands.
During a confrontation with the Sentinel, Bastion, Aaron was exposed to Sentinel programmed nanites, turning him into a mutant hunting weapon. Captured by SHIELD, he was on the helicarrier when the Red Skull attacked, causing the air base to crash. Aaron was able to escape by downloading himself into a spare LMD, who then went looking for the remains of his first body among the wreckage. Once found, the LMD would absorb the Sentinel nano-tech and regenerate himself a new upgraded Machine Man body.
Aaron was aware of the way that the Sentinel programming was affecting him. He could feel his aggression toward mutants growing despite being aware that they are not inherently bad and many are heroes. He believed his own humanity would prevent him from losing control, but he struggled. He went to Avengers Mansion for help, having served with the team on a few occasions, however, besides Jarvis, the only Avengers on duty were new recruits, Justice and Firestar, both mutants. When they came to the door, Aaron lost complete control and attacked. Desperate, Aaron teleported himself away.
Sebastian Shaw later targeted him with his own fleet of Sentinels, believing Aaron would eventually be his undoing. This brought the X-Men to his defense, but his mutant targeting system attacked them. With no other choice, he blew himself up. His auto-repair function rebuilt his body but also purged him of the Sentinel programming.
After he stood against a possible robot uprising caused by XERO, another creation of Abel Stack, he was confronted, yet again, by a monolith. This one he embraced and was taken to the Celestials
In the series it was revealed that the Celestials returned him to Earth after he had spent a year with them and they had determined that he was "complete and utter ☠☠☠☠".
Machine Man is one of the five members of the Nextwave team. He prefers to be called Aaron rather than Machine Man. He pilots their ship, the Shockwave Rider, and is relied on by Monica Rambeau to perform various logistical functions, as well as being an important fighter. He has a distaste for humans and other organic beings, which he refers to as "fleshy ones". He enjoys beer, and has wired his brain to be affected by it. He is slightly unpopular with his teammates because of his arrogance, and especially so with Elsa, who he seems to be attracted to, or he at least enjoys staring at her chest.
The team was brought together by H.A.T.E. (Highest Anti-Terrorist Effort) and its leader Dirk Anger. However, when they learn that H.A.T.E. is being used by the Beyond Corporation to sell their Unusual Weapons of Mass Destruction, Aaron and the team go rogue and try to take them down. The team is confronted by wave after wave of weird superhuman knockoffs, until they find the head honcho of Beyond Corporation, a hyper intelligent version of Devil Dinosaur, whom Aaron kills without hesitation.
It is later learned that the adventures of Nextwave took place in alternate timeline, although the members were all from Earth-616.
During the superhuman Civil War, Machine Man, and most of his Nextwave colleagues, sided with Captain America and his resistance. Once the "war" was over, however, he joined The Initiative citing that Maria Hill offered him a substantial amount of money to register. He was further compensated with a Life Model Decoy of Monica Rambeau; which he has programmed to cry.
He was placed on the Initiative team Operation Lightning Storm which was led by the Avenger Ms. Marvel and consisted of Sleepwalker, Spider-Girl and Wonder Man. When Norman Osborn rose to power during Dark Reign, Lightning Storm was disbanded which led to Machine Man and fellow Lightning Storm member Agent Sum briefly setting out to expose the villain Moonstone as the person impersonating the new Ms. Marvel. However nothing came of this and the plot point was abandoned and left unresolved.
Later he was transferred to ARMOR (Alternate Reality Monitoring and Operational Response). Here he was working alongside Morbius, Portal and Howard the Duck to battle zombies. He was uniquely qualified since he was immune to the virus. He was also reunited with his former love, Jocasta, while on assignment at ARMOR.
Agent of SMASH
Steve Rogers and the Secret Avengers assigned Machine Man to keep the volatile Red Hulk in check when he was acting on personal missions. The two unlikely allies became good friends over their time as partners and Machine Man helped the new Hulk battle an assortment of enemies such as the Sultan Magus, Black Fog, Ikaris of the Eternals and an invasion of Mayan Gods.
After success in dealing with the Red Hulk, Steve Rogers calls X-51 to help with the new Red She-Hulk situation. He had previously worked with Red She-Hulk, while with her father, and X-51 feels he has a good database on her already. He is able to track Betty to Arlington, Virginia, but by the time he has found her, she had already killed Vin Corsico, an inmate of the Raft. X-51 tries to revive Corsico but to no avail, he is then blind sided by Red She-Hulk. X-51 is able to fend off her attack but she gets away.
X-51 tracks Betty to Washington D.C., but when he makes contact she tries to fly away. X-51 then helps the Avengers try to stop her but Red She-Hulk gets away again. During the battle X-51 notices that Red-She-Hulk helps save civilians lives before fleeing. He tell Steve Rogers what he witnessed but Rogers is more intent on bringing Red She-Hulk to justice for the murder of Corsico.
After the Avenger fly off to chase Red She-Hulk, X-51 fallows her trail back to the house of Eleanor Bennett, where he meets Nikola Tesla and learns of the Terranometer. X-51 then tracks Betty to Deseched Island, in Puerto Rico. There X-51 helps her break in to the Echelon training facility. There the pair fight countless Echelon soldiers. X-51 comes to Betty's aide when she Hulks out and is captured by General Fortean.
After escaping the Echelon base, X-51 and Betty have a heart to heart where X-51 decides to help Betty on her mission to stop Echelon. The pair go back to Eleanor's house and find it destroyed. They are then attacked by the Military. X-51 is knocked out by a Echelon soldier who possesses an EMP bomb-like power. X-51 is later rescued by Red She-Hulk and the pair continue on their mission to stop Echelon.
Merc for Money
While working for Umbral Dynamics, Aaron crossed paths with Deadpool. Aaron tried to pass along a message that he was undercover, and Umbral was up to no good. Instead of getting the Avengers, Deadpool attempted to take down Umbral solo. Luckily, Aaron also got a message to Domino, who assembled a roster of mercenaries. They reluctantly agreed to let Deadpool join.
After defeating Umbral, Deadpool suggested they call themselves The Mercs for Money, a team Deadpool used to run until all his mercs walked out on him. Aaron and the rest of the team agreed to stick together as long as Domino leads instead of Deadpool.
They take on a few more missions until Deadpool’s estranged wife, Shiklah, attempts to take over the world. Her big move was to cast a sleep spell on humanity, which didn’t work on Aaron’s computer brain. He was able to destroy the artifact powering the spell, waking his team and re-joining Deadpool in his fight against the monster army.
After leaving the Mercs for Money, Aaron moved in with his on-again, off-again girlfriend, Jocasta. She had been working with Tony Stark to blur the lines between the real word and the digital one with a VR program called eScape. Aaron, who recently found fulfillment in mecha-activism, saw it as a form of cultural appropriation. Tensions continued to build when Jocasta sought help becoming more human. She wanted synthetic skin, something Aaron used to have but recently cast it off to embrace his A.I. identity.
Around this time, Stark’s competitor, Sunset Bain, and half-brother, Arno, were scheming against Stark to take over his company and label artificial intelligent beings as property rather than individuals. Aaron helped Stark create the A.I. Army, a militant protest group that sought to take down Bain and Arno’s version of Stark Unlimited and liberate artificially intelligent beings.
Ultimately, they locked Arno in a virtual reality where he thought won and forced Sunset Bain, who was secretly a synthetic individual (even she didn't know), to take the fall for Stark Unlimited's crimes. Jocasta took over as leader of the A.I. Army, transforming it into a grass-roots civil rights group, and Aaron was happy to follow.
Machine Man's powers include super-human strength, speed, durability and endurance. His body is made of titanium, and he has a cybernetic brain that gives him superhuman analytical ability. He has telescopic and detachable limbs which can be controlled when separated from the body, and solar batteries just under his skin to continually charge his mechanized body.
Along with the built-in abilities for defense, X-51 has a multitude of devices, including anti-gravity generators that allow him to fly, built into his body. He also has sensors with zoom and magnifying capabilities, various radars, a chromatograph, seismometer, audiometer, transceiver and gravity wave detector. His fingertips contain lasers. He is virtually immortal as long as his programming/consciousness is kept secure. Any damage done to his body can simply be repaired.
- Height: 6'
- Weight: 850 lbs
- Eye Color: Red
- Hair Color: Black
- Citizenship: Inapplicable
- Place of Birth: Central City, California
- Occupation: Adventurer, former insurance investigator
- Known Relatives: Abel Stack (creator/father), Jocasta (girlfriend)
- Distinguishing Features: Oversized red lenses for eyes and metallic chrome skin.
Machine Man of Earth-398 was known as Sir MacHinery and was a member of the Queen's Vengeance.
Machine Man was a member of NEXTWAVE who was devoured by the zombified Power Pack.
In a version of 2020 as perceived from the 1980s, the world had been taken over by megacorporations like Baintronics. Most workers have been replaced with robots, and innovation is a privilege shared only by the upper class. Lower classes do their best to survive by salvaging garbage tech. One such group, the Midnight Wreckers, led by Aaron's old friend, Gears Garvin, find Aaron's body and rebuild him, so that he can help them fight back against these megacorporations.
Machine Man protected humans in a bunker after nuclear war from Maestro
A retired Aaron of Earth X was confronted by a Monolith with the opportunity to finally find out what it is like to be human. He was stripped of his human-like skin and given the chance to work with Uatu. Their job was to witness humanity’s inevitable evolution to Celestials, and Uatu needed help ever since he went blind. However, Uatu was manipulating Aaron. He was overloading Aaron with data to convince him to remove his emotional programming. When Aaron caught on, he convinced Uatu that he had deleted his emotions, tricking Uatu into confiding in him the Celestials true plan.
Aaron learned the Earth was an egg for a new Celestial and the superhumans were antibodies protecting that egg, making Earthlings expendable after the egg hatches. Aaron would betray Uatu to tell Earth’s heroes the truth, in particular Reed Richards. Together, they would convince Galactus to spare the planet but consume the embryo within. With the planet no longer a target, Aaron would continue to watch over the human race from the Watcher’s home on the moon.
Killing the embryo would cause the depolarization of the planet, leading to strife among the superhumans still residing there. Meanwhile, many new cosmic threats would fill the void of the Celestials, all witnessed by Aaron from the Watcher’s home. With the multiverse at stake, Aaron would bring together a team of Heralds from various timelines to warn alternate Earths of the Celestial embryos at the center of their planets
Machine Man is a member of Vision's Machine Resistance in the Cancerverse.
X-51 appeared as a supporting character in the animated series Spider-Man Unlimited. He first appearing in the fifth episode "Steel Cold Heart". X-51 was one of the High Evolutionary's servitors who was due to be scrapped. He was spared when Spider-Man interfered. Following this, he switched sides and he continued to appear in the series as one of John Jameson's Rebels following that appearance. His appearance is much bulkier than his comic counterpart, but his robotic face resembles closely what he looks like without his humanoid mask. He was voiced by actor Dale Wilson.
- Machine Man was part of the Marvel Legends Allfather Build-a-Figure wave from Hasbro.
- Machine Man was featured in the HeroClix figure game.
- Machine Man was featured in a Marvel Universe two-pack from Hasbro with Superior Iron Man.