Secret Agent John Probe Returns In April For The Second Volume Of M.A.C.H.1!

by Richard Bruton

With the British Secret Service facing threats from all sides, terrorists, super-weapons and threats from beyond the stars. It’s time to recall Probe, their number one super-agent, the Man Activated by Compu-puncture Hyperpower! The man who gets the strength of 50 with that Hyperpower, the man with his own, controlling, computer in his head. That man is John Probe, M.A.C.H. 1.

But all is not rosy in the world, and Probe soon starts to question the motives of his superiors. His investigations lead to some very dark secrets of the Service, including failed prototype, M.A.C.H. Zero.

M.A.C.H.1 cover from 2000 AD Prog 60, art by Brian Bolland.

We’re going back in time to the very beginnings of 2000 AD here, with a strip created by writer Pat Mills and artist Enio that first appeared in the very first Prog. Here, we have the continuing and concluding M.A.C.H 1 adventures, from Progs 34-46, 53-75, and 162-1655, as well as the 2000 AD Annual 1979, including the M.A.C.H. Zero spin-off tale.

And in terms of creative talent, you have series creator Pat Mills alongside writers Scott Goodall, Alan Hebden, Steve MacManus, Roy Preston, Geoffrey Miller, Gary Rice, Nick Landau, and Mike Lake. As for the artistic line-up, you can see early work from Kevin O’Neill, Gary Leach and Trveor Goring, as well as John Cooper, Lozano, Marxal Canos, Ramon Sola Montero, Lothano, and Mike Dorey.

There’s something so wonderfully 70s about the background to M.A.C.H.1, very much the Six Million Dollar Man with a fresh, 2000 AD, Pat Mills twist. And there’s nothing more over the top than the idea of Compu-Power; ‘A computerised form of acupuncture. By inserting special electro-needles into Probe’s body, his energy flow will increase until he has the strength of fifty men’.

But the thing that comes through when reading M.A.C.H. 1 is how Mills and subsequent writers took the ridiculous nature of the Six Million Dollar Man and the over the top idea of computer acupuncture and went very, very dark with it. The initial idea might have been all Steve Austin, but with the computer in his head calling the shots with a brutal logic, and the head of the Service working to his own agenda, the character goes into dark realms, never moreso than with the return of Pat Mills on ‘The Final Encounter’.

Add in some remarkable artwork from a long list of great artists and what you have is a really readable slice of over-the-top action from the earliest days of 2000 AD. The genesis might have been a TV show, but those involved really made it far more. And now, with volume two, Close Encounters, you can see the development and end of the adventures of Britain’s number one Hyper-powered super secret agent!

M.A.C.H.1 Volume 2: Close Encounters will be released by 2000 AD on 18 April. Those of you over the Atlantic can get hold it in May from your local comic shop.

Now, as a special preview, the first M.A.C.H. 1 adventure from Volume 2, first published in 2000 AD Progs 34 & 35, written by Scott Goodall, with art by John Cooper, this is ‘Everest’.

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