Sunday, January 26, 2014

365 Days of KirbyTech, Day 26: Virman Vundabar's Murder Machine

Yesterday we said "hello" to The Murder Machine! (Hi, Murder Machine!) It's a name so nice Jack used it twice! You've seen the Psycho-Man's Murder Machine, now meet Doctor Virman Vundabar's Murder Machine!

Cover of Mister Miracle #5 (November-December 1971), pencils by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by Mike Royer

Holy cow. That's one murdery machine.

A evil denizen...of Darkseid's flame-broiled world Apokolips, Vundabar has a vested interest in killing Scott Free, the I'm-gonna-name-my-kid-that escape artist Mister Miracle, the only man to successfully slip away from Granny Goodness's clutches on Apokolips. Look, I don't make up these names, Jack did. Anyway, what better way to kill the finest escape artist on the Fourth World and Earth-1 than buckling him into a massive machine of death? I wonder if Dr. Vundabar preceded the process by promising Mr. Miracle that this wouldn't hurt a bit.

Splash panel of Mister Miracle #5 (November-December 1971), script and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks and letters by Mike Royer

The Murder Machine spins...excuse me, centri-spins...around at supersonic speeds. In fact, since it is travelling faster than the speed of sound, Dr. V. and henchman Hydrik, inventor of the evil Oreo, should be splattered by Scott's vomit before they hear him vomiting. Dob't blame me for that image, folks, that's SCIENCE!

Unfortunately, somebody didn't tighten a bolt or a radio tube burned out or the dilithium crystals fractured or something like that, and the whole shebang blows up. Doctor Vundabar has, of course, wisely learned from his avid watching of Mythbusters to stand well behind the bullet-resistant blast shield before blowing stuff up in a big-ass explosion. Too bad for Hydrik, then, that he never paid attention when Jamie and Adam continuously remind us to don't try this at home. As it turns out, this was only a scale model to test the concept, and to see if they could blow up Vundabar's Mr. Miracle Mego doll in the backyard, even tho' Granny Goodness won't let him have any cherry bombs.

When the real Mister Miracle is tricked into the full-scale Murder Machine's heavy-metal clutches, it's Murder Machine Version 2.0. This construction, instead of spinning Scott right round like a record, right round round round, clamps him into a coffin made of titanium. (It's no Amazonium, but it's still plenty tough.) This Murder Machine moves Scott forward on a track, a bit like a car wash, as he observes. Oh no! Scott is about to be covered with hot wax and buffed to a brilliant shine! What a way to polish him off!*

It hammers and shocks him, with blonggs! and some klonggs! (And I think we all know how painful that can be.) It's a bit over-elaborate, when, like a James Bond villain, Vundabar really oughta take a gun and shoot Mr. M. in the head with it. But I am not in the habit of telling super-villains how to succeed in business.

Then simply dunk the remaining evidence in a sizzling acid bath! Not only does it most sincerely kill Mr. Miracle, it destroys the evidence! Why, no one will ever suspect him, because Vundabar's crime is perfect if he wasn't explaining it all to Scott's girlfriend while he does it.

Okay, I gotta hand it to Jack Kirby: the next panel, as the villains gloat over the death of Mr. Miracle, is just about freakin' perfect.

Bwah-ha-ha-ha-ha it didn't work. As we know, Scott Free is the world's greatest escape artist, so getting out the Murder Machine's trap was child's play! Well, it's also Vundabar's fault for not taking Scott's rocket shoes off first. HAVE WE LEARNED NOTHING FROM GOLDFINGER PEOPLE?!?

I think we can safely assume that Dr. Vundabar's patent application for the Murder Machine was rejected on grounds of it just didn't work.

This Murder Machine doesn't seem to make any other appearances in the DC canon, which is a shame, because it is way cool. There are, like in the Marvel Universe, other items of mass destruction known as Murder Machines, but none are as impressively over-the-top as the original. Truly, the Giant Nazi Robot that brought together the Justice Society of America is an awe-inspiring concept, but it pales before Dr. V.'s Car Wash o' Death.

Panel from Secret Origins (1986 series) #31 [The Justice Society of America] (October 1988), script by who else but! Roy Thomas, pencils by Mike Bair, inks by Bob Downs, colors by Carl Gafford, letters by Jean Simek

This evil robot not only began the adventures of the JSA, it also began their unfortunate habit of lugging souvenirs home and throwing them in the hallway.

Panels from "Origins & Omens" in Justice Society of America #24 (April 2009), script by Matthew Sturges, pencils and inks by Fernando Pasarin, colors by Hi-Fi, letters by Rob Leigh

Oh yes! there was another "Murder Machine" created by Kirby...

Panels from Jimmy Olsen #135 (January 1971), script and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by John Costanza


Huh, DC did let Jack Kirby draw Jimmy's face without having Al Plastino or Purphy Anderson re-draw it, but only when Jimmy was green. What's up with that?!?

Panels from Jimmy Olsen #136 (March 1971), script and pencils by Jack Kirby, inks by Vince Colletta, letters by John Costanza

*I'm sorry. I'm so, so, sorry.


Chance said...

Love that cover. A knife... and an A-bomb. If one doesn't get you, the other probably will.

Matthew Johnson said...

Trust a New God to bring a knife to an A-bomb fight.

Blam said...

Frankly, Mike Royer's work over Kirby is nothing short of incredible given that he was inking with relish.