- M.A.C.H. 1 directs here, for the Thunderbolts member formerly known as M.A.C.H. 1, see Abner Jenkins
|First appearance||2000 AD #1 (26 February 1977)|
|Created by||Pat Mills & Enio|
|Alter ego||John Probe|
|Team affiliations||British Secret Service|
On-board tactical computer
M.A.C.H. 1 was a comic strip that ran in the British science fiction comic 2000 AD. The strip was created by writer Pat Mills and illustrator Enio. It debuted in the first issue of 2000 AD, which was published in February 1977, and ran nearly continuously until issue 64, dated 13 May 1978.
John Probe was a British Secret Service agent who volunteered for a special procedure whereby his physical strength, speed and agility would be enhanced using 'compu-puncture' (M.A.C.H. stands for "Man Activated by Compu-puncture Hyperpower"), a computerised form of acupuncture. His metabolism was controlled by a computer implanted in his skull, which also fed him tactical information such as the amount of strength or the exact throwing angle required for a given task.
Initially, M.A.C.H. 1 thematically resembled the Six Million Dollar Man, but with more graphic violence. As the strip continued the tone became increasingly dark. This contrasted directly with The Six Million Dollar Man, who began as a killer, but was progressively softened by the TV networks until it fitted into family entertainment.
At first engaging in missions against Communists, terrorists and organised crime, Probe eventually discovered that his superior, Denis Sharpe, had engineered the compu-puncture treatment which had given him his abilities so as to erase Probe's pre-augmented memory and to cause his death if he did not receive frequent treatment. As a result Probe was forced to work for Sharpe.
M.A.C.H. 1 later came across M.A.C.H. Zero, a prototype who had not been equipped with a computer implant and had consequently become insane, and Tanya Maski, an East European M.A.C.H. agent created after Sharpe had sold the compu-puncture techniques to the Soviets. Sharpe also created a robotic M.A.C.H. 2 with which to kill Probe. Eventually, M.A.C.H. 1 killed Sharpe and then sacrificed himself to enable aliens, provoked into attacking Earth by Sharpe, to return home. M.A.C.H. Zero later appeared in his own strip.
A spoof, entitled B.L.A.I.R. 1, a satire on Tony Blair, appeared in 2000 AD in the late 1990s, and gained considerable media attention at the time. The story was not popular with readers, however, and was soon killed off.
All three characters have appeared in their own eponymous series. M.A.C.H. 1 was later reprinted in Eagle and also in anthology format (the beginning and end in 2000AD Extreme Edition #6 and #9). Appearances include:
- "Vulcan" (with Pat Mills (1)/Robert Flynn (2) and Enio (1)/Ian Kennedy (2), in 2000 AD #1-2, 1977)
- "Chinese Formula" (with Steve MacManus and Kato, in 2000 AD #14, 1977)
- "Tokyo" (with Steve MacManus and Lopez, in 2000 AD #20, 1977)
- "The Death Trumpet" (with Steve MacManus and Marzal Canos, in 2000 AD #26, 1977)
- "M.A.C.H. Zero" (with Steve MacManus and Ramon Sola, in 2000 AD #43-46, 1977-1978)
- "The Dolphin Tapes" (with Steve MacManus and Jesus Redondo (1-2), Montero (3-4), in 2000 AD #54-57, 1978)
- "The Final Encounter " (with Pat Mills and Montero, in 2000 AD #61-64, 1978)
- "Cousin George " (with Steve MacManus and Mike Donaldson (1-2, 4, 6-8), Ramon Sola (3, 5), in 2000 AD #65-72, 1978)
- "Cyborg Express (with Henry Miller and Kevin O'Neill, in 2000AD Sci-Fi Special 1978)
- "The Suit" (with Steve MacManus and Montero, in 2000 AD #73-75, 1978)
- "M.A.C.H. 0 Book 2" (with Steve MacManus and Mike Dorey, in 2000 AD #162-165, 1980)
- B.L.A.I.R. 1 (with art from Simon Davis):