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Crime has taken over the media.
From timeless classics like The Godfather’s Don Corleone to real-life personalities like Narcos’ Pablo Escobar, crime rules over entertainment. While these are some of the most prominent examples, crime leaders on TV are a dime a dozen.
If you want to make your fictional crime lord stand out, he must have something unique. Something that changes the whole game – and Machine Head has just that.
The name is not a metaphor: the guy’s an A.I. installed in a metal head on a humanoid body. This gives the criminal a colossal edge. Machine Head’s artificial intellect helped him build the biggest crime organization in the country: Machine Head Crime Cartel.
Still, for all his intellect, Machine Head has messed up big time, and not even one of the world’s biggest intellects could save him. But you know what? That’s actually amazing. Nobody likes perfect characters. The flaws are what make something fictional feel real.
Plus, the guy is a lot of fun. He left a mark on the comics, but one series episode was all it took to create a legend. So let’s head to this Machine Head Invincible Guide and find out what happens when A.I. meets crime.
My Bottom Line up Front
Machine Head is another example of a character who is okay in the comics but incredible in the show adaptation. Extended lines, a flashier performance, and a remarkable voice effect make the character stand out among many other tv criminals. It was a joy to watch him on screen, and I would love to see more.
Machine Head’s head is an artificial bio-synthetic neural computer manufactured to resemble a human head.”
That’s the statement we get from The Official Handbook of the Invincible Universe. Yet no one knows where said biosynthetic being came from.
Machine Head is a mystery.
People have no idea if he’s an android with humanoid features or a human consciousness downloaded into an artificial body. We only know that this type of technology is far more advanced than Earth can offer – even considering the Global Defense Agency’s experiments. So all evidence indicates Machine Head is of alien origin.
This is an angle neither the comic nor the show explores, but that I would like to know more about. For all this alien technology, you would think the guy has a plethora of abilities. Well, not really. Machine Head’s giant intellect is pretty much all he has. Not that this is a small thing—after all, it allowed the criminal to surpass all his competitors.
Still, when it comes to the body, the crime lord possesses the average strength level of someone with his build that performs minimum exercise. So yeah, a big head is pretty much what Machine Head has going for him.
Appearance and Personality
Machine Head is 6’0” tall and weighs 170 lbs. His artificial head is black with yellow details and purple eyes. I find the yellow pattern visually pleasing and the color choice harmonic. The colors work because the artist used black as the base, while yellow and purple complement each other. When using complementary colors, you must be careful with the ratio. If the colors are in similar quantities, they clash and make the combination too overwhelming. That’s not the case here, as everything works toward harmony.
Machine Head cares about how he presents. He has a unique sense of style – flashy like an over-the-top drug lord. The criminal wears a white suit and a tie with an intricate pattern.
Personality-wise, Machine Head is a flamboyant guy who likes to show off his style and power. While that is apparent since the comics, the show took this trait to another level. The crime lord shouts, uses colorful vocabulary, and makes the most out of body language to get his point across. But a theatrical persona isn’t all he has to offer: leadership know-how and decent hand-to-hand combat skills complete the package.
Titan: Machine Head’s got a complicated working relationship with Titan. Their association is less meaningful in the comics, as Titan is just a goon with a decreasing performance. But the series shows another facet of their relationship. In this version, the employee is beyond valuable to the crime lord and acquires rare items for his boss, like a Quantum possibilities chip.
Isotope: Isotope was supposed to be Machine Head’s right hand, but when push came to shove, he failed miserably – the criminal left his boss in his time of need. Still, the crime lord forgives him, and keeps working together afterward.
Comic Run: From Promising Big Bad to Glorified Cameo
Machine Head makes few appearances in the comics. In the early issues, he gets to shine in the spotlight, while in the later ones, he’s basically background noise.
The crime lord debuts in Invincible #18. In his first scene, Machine Head calls Titan out for his decreasing productivity and involvement with Invincible. The crime boss threatens Titan but doesn’t seem suspicious of anything, even though his employee is walking around with a superhero.
In the following issue, Machine Head is working at a desk and asks Isotope to bring the second quarter revenue report. I thought that was a fun detail because it shows he’s a businessman above all. Organized crime is an exact science. Plus, it makes sense that if the drug lord is the smartest person in the industry, his success depends on him personally reviewing the organization’s performance.
Titan and Invincible break into the boss’ office, but the crime lord doesn’t lift a finger. He had prepared for the attack and called out six superpowered goons to fight: Magnattack, Kursk, Furnace, Magmaniac, Tether Tyrant, and Battle Beast.
Machine Head introduces everyone in a flamboyant style, saying he doesn’t hire lightweights. He’s confident. Everything seems to go his way for a while: his men are strong, and Battle Beast defeats Invincible. But the Guardians arrive to save the day. The drug boss might have taken down Invincible, but he couldn’t beat a whole team of heroes. So, there was only one thing to do: flee. Machine Head turns to Isotope, asking for an escape plan.
But his right hand was gone.
The crime boss counted on Isotope’s loyalty and lost it all. How couldn’t he see that coming? Isn’t he one of the most brilliant people on the planet? Well, I have a theory. Machine Head always acts like the boss, which makes him overconfident and blind to the obvious.
Although this was Machine Head’s only proper arc in the series, he showed up more times. Chronologically, his next appearance occurs in the spin-off Guarding the Globe, Volume 1. A while after his arrest, the former mafia boss escaped prison and took over the LA branch of an organization called the Order.
Back on top, the crime lord decided to forgive both Titan and Isotope. He made a truce with his former enemy and resumed working with his failed right hand. Then Machine Head carried on the order’s plans under the rule of its leader, Set. The crime boss would appear a few times as a background character in Guarding the Globe – during meetings and the final battle where Set wreaked havoc on the World.
But that’s it. Machine head is basically a glorified cameo in Guarding the Globe.
The crime lord returns to the main Invincible continuity on issue 83. After the Order’s defeat, members went their separate ways, and it seemed Machine Head had gotten out fine. But trouble ensued: Titan decided to take his enemy out for good and hired Magmaniac and Tether Tyrant to take his former boss down.
When the goons arrive at Machine Head’s new lair, they realize he’s not alone. The boss has Vault on his side. Still, the crime lord is in on the action this time around. He shoots one of his enemies and fights his way out of trouble. Vault takes Magmaniac out, which prompts an emotional response from Tether Tyrant. Tyrant then bonds with the creature inside him and goes insane.
Turns out the story was really about Tether Tyrant and not the machine criminal. Machine Head was just a background character, and once Tether Tyrant leaves, we never see the crime lord again.
TV Series Adaptation: a Flashier Persona
There are a few differences between the comics and the series. Most notably, Machine Head receives a Quantum probability chip from Titan. This is a game changer because it allows the drug lord to calculate several possible futures and see the more likely outcomes. It’s a fantastic addition, but it makes the crime boss’ failure even more absurd because he could see the future but couldn’t predict his demise.
Yet, my favorite change is the personality upgrade. Machine Head is already intriguing in the comic, but the series takes it to another level. The crime lord has a larger-than-life persona full of debauchery. His sarcastic and manic tone conveyed with gusto by Jeffrey Donovan hits all the right spots. Even with the distortion in the actor’s voice, his emotions show off – and the mechanical nature of Machine Head’s speech actually adds flair to the interpretation.
Plot-wise, the story is mostly the same, but the series fleshes out Titan’s importance to Machine Head. Plus, the show makes the confrontation scene between them even cooler. When Invincible and Titan get to the criminal’s office, he ignores them and keeps doing his reports.
This shows how cold-blooded Machine Head is. He’s got everything under control. He knows he wants to keep Titan working for him and how to achieve that.
Or so he thinks.
The fact is, conflict between Titan and his boss has been brewing for a long time.
The drug lord gets his worker to run all these errands for him to pay his debt – yet, when the debt is finished, Machine Head refuses to let Titan go. The boss praises the criminal saying that if Titan didn’t want to be released, he would get a promotion. When Titan confronts him, Machine Head adds the employee is just a pile of rocks and that the goon will keep working for him anyway.
After hearing this, Titan is on edge, ready to jump over his boss. But Machine Head laughs and adds:
Do you think you’re just going to punch your way out of this? I know where your family lives. That means you work for me until I say you’re fucking done.”
Then Titan smashes the table.
Machine Head’s reaction is priceless:
See, see? Impressive shit like that is why I’m never letting you go. Now you gotta pay for the desk too. This was imported Italian Maple.”
I love this interaction because it shows Machine Head’s manic personality and his sarcasm in the face of danger. Even though Titan is stronger, the drug lord doesn’t bat an eyelash because he’s confident in his ability to overcome foes with intellect, persuasion, and threats.
Plus, it also shows Machine Head’s sarcastic and flashy side. That wasn’t just any table. It was Italian Maple. It’s such a priority to say that, isn’t it?
But not even all the persuasion on the planet could get Titan to agree. It’s time for Plan B: powerful goons. Machine Head’s men show up to fight Invincible and Titan, and from there, things go pretty much like in the comics. Battle Beat defeats Invincible, the Guardians arrive, and Machine Head tries to run.
When shit hits the fan, the drug lord has an additional quote, which is priceless.
This was an unexpected possibility. Isotope, let’s go. Isotope!”
But Isotope isn’t there.
The only thing waiting for Machine Head is his inevitable doom.
Awesome or Lame?
Machine Head’s comic version is fine. He had the right components for a fascinating villain, but something was missing: flair. But the combination of Jeffrey Donovan’s acting and the show’s more absurd lines takes the character to a whole other level. Watching Machine Head on screen had me entertained all the time. He popped up on only one episode, but the drug lord made the most out of it.
So much so the TV show got me wishing to see more of the drug lord’s story. At this point, it’s a cliché to say that if Invincible wanted, it could explore a character further. The potential is always there, but with so much already going on, it’s improbable we’ll see more Machine Head. But you never know.
And the Award of Best Quote Goes to…
Come on, like you’re gonna go clean. Work the fry station at burger mart. That ship has sailed, amigo. This is your life now. This is what you do.
You’re a walking pile of rocks, you break heads, that’s it. That’s all. Own it already. See, I know you’re gonna keep working for me. The question is, how painful do you want it to be?”
Invincible, episode 5.
This quote encapsulates Machine’s head personality perfectly. He goes from cynicism to debauchery to threats in a matter of seconds. That doesn’t sound at all like a generic quote, but like something only he would say in this exact way. So kudos to the Invincible writing team for crafting dialogue that makes the character feel real.
Question: What happened to Machine Head in Invincible?
Answer: The Guardians of the Globe took Machine Head into U.S. custody after Titan and Invincible broke into his office. That’s the last we’ve seen of him from the series(as of 2023), but in the comics, he escapes prison, joins a criminal group, and takes control over a turf in Los Angeles.
Question: Who plays Machine Head in Invincible?
Answer: Machine Head is played by Jeffrey Donovan. The actor is known for playing Michael Westen from the series Burn Notice.
Question: What episode is Machine Head in Invincible?
Answer: Machine Head appears in only one episode of Invincible: episode 5, which is called That Actually Hurt.
Back to the Future
Machine Head made a significant impact with the little he had. But do you know who else made a colossal bump on the comic, appearing only in 12 issues? Conquest. Check this article and find out why the vicious Viltrumite is one of Invincible’s most terrifying villains. But if you’re tired of villains, what about an anti-hero? Read this Rex Splode article and see how the annoying Teen Team member went from jerk to superhero.