Wednesday, October 25, 2017

There's Always The Awesome Android

One Marvel character who has always flown lumbered under the radar is the Mad Thinker's so-called Awesome Android, which seldom if ever makes appearances without his awesome adjective. Making his debut in Fantastic Four, he owes his basic makeup to the notes of Reed Richards, though it would be the Thinker who would go on to construct and activate him. The android's specialty is to alter its form to suit its attack posture, including the ability to mimic some of the abilities of those who go up against it. It thus becomes a more versatile foe than, say, the Adaptoid, who tends to imprint a target and stick with that form for the duration, though its adaptation might comprise several forms at once.

The Android enjoys visibility in Marvel Comics to this day, marking its staying power to a span of over fifty years. Yet aside from a more humorous evolution of its nature in the pages of She-Hulk, for the most part it's remained a handy tool for whatever writer requires a large, no-questions-asked menace for their story. What follows here isn't a retrospective of the Android so much as a sampling of its various appearances as it progressed through early Marvel history, which should give you an idea of not only why a writer might schedule it as a threat, but also should demonstrate how its abilities and silent demeanor, which remain constants, nevertheless continue to fascinate readers.

Following a second appearance in Fantastic Four that presents the Android as a common foe for both the FF and the X-Men, the Thinker's creation is often accompanied by his master in subsequent appearances, though that's not always the case. It's intriguing to see the Android in a situation where it must fend for itself as far as proceeding with a course of action without the directives of the Thinker guiding it, though that limits it to basically being something for the hero(es) to knock down or otherwise disable. The real treat is in seeing how a different artist will frame the Android and handle its attack. As we'll see when the Android goes up against Iron Man, its adaptation to its foe offers something of a (you'll excuse the word) comical approach to dealing with its target.

Fortunately for Iron Man, the Thinker gets involved, inadvertently handing Iron Man the means to defeat both himself and his creation.

Then there's the Android's meeting with Rom, who is mistaken for an android by the Thinker and thus attracts his interest. The battle scenes are nicely played out by artist Sal Buscema, whose introduction of the brute takes advantage of the Android's distinctive head--always an eye-catcher, and probably the thing that comes to mind for readers more than even his power.

Later, we learn the Thinker has become dissatisfied with the Android's performance and washes his hands of him; but the Android's interpretation of his master's orders has him isolating himself within a rural barn. When a young neighbor makes a request to Captain America to investigate, Cap discovers an aggressive foe indeed--but only, as it turns out, some of the time.

What Cap observes in his battle with the Android is that it eventually returns to an unmoving, standing position, just as Cap initially found it--a state which lasts only until someone gets within range. And while Cap has no way of knowing the how and the why, we see via flashback the details that led to the Thinker's decision to part with his creation; but Cap has reasoned that the best way to handle this threat is to simply leave it alone.

Our tall, bulky friend might still be standing among the bales of hay in that barn, were it not for the Fixer--who isn't really the Fixer but the Adaptoid, who gains control of the Android for his own purposes. With new directives from the Adaptoid, the Android meets and battles the Avengers; but thanks to a helpful tip from Dr. Druid, the Android goes down for the count.

The Android is then relocated to the Avengers' Hydrobase H.Q., where it's again found by the Adaptoid (now having adapted the powers of Mentallo) and conscripted into a group of constructs consisting of the Sentry, TESS-One, and Machine Man, collectively known as... wait for it...

With the Sub-Mariner now an Avenger, there's a certain advantage in having your headquarters based on an island, even one that's artificial. For instance, when hurling an awesome android into the water, Namor can follow, renew his prodigious strength, and make sure that the Android meets a grisly end.

During the Acts of Vengeance, which would result in the destruction and sinking of Hydrobase, the Android reactivates and battles the Black Widow, Firebird, Moondragon, Hellcat, and Capt. Marvel before finally suffering defeat. Yet by now we realize that you can't keep a good Awesome Android down--and the blockhead would go on to have further appearances in various titles, whenever and wherever its awesome presence was needed.

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