At the age of fourteen, Samuel Saxon discovered one of Doctor Doom's robots abandoned in a subway tunnel, and took it piece by piece to his father's garage, where for months he studied its components until mastering its operating principles and building his own robot from scratch. Following his disapproving mother's death in an alleged laboratory accident, he used the insurance money to - over a few years - entertain himself by building a series of increasingly advanced robots and androids. When his funds ran low, he sent his android Demi-Men, led by an android duplicate of Magneto, to steal money while posing as mutant terrorists in cooperation with Mesmero. However, they were defeated by the X-Men, who did not learn that their main opponent had been an android until years later, when Magneto himself discovered the deception.
Machinesmith was created by Stan Lee and Gene Colan. He first appeared as Samuel "Starr" Saxon in Daredevil #49, masqueraded as Mister Fear in Daredevil #54, and appeared as Machinesmith for the first time in Marvel Two-in-One #47.
Major Story Arcs
Still a novice at crime, the young Saxon was taken under the wing of the aged Tinkerer, another underworld genius. With the Tinkerer's assistance, Saxon obtained a contract from imprisoned gangster Biggie Benson to target Daredevil with a robot assassin, the Plastoid. Although, unaware of his subject's identity of Matt Murdock, Saxon used person-specific "aromagraphs" to enable the Plastoid to track its target. The Plastoid confronted Murdock at his apartment and defeated him in a brief battle, only for its limited programming to force retreat when interrupted by passerby Willie Lincoln, a friend of Murdock's.
Returning soon afterward, the Plastoid again fought Murdock, now in costume as Daredevil, in a battle that raged from Murdock's gym to the streets of Hell's Kitchen. When its memory banks were damaged, it ceased fighting and, with Daredevil in pursuit, returned to Saxon, who was enthusiastically contemplating a career in providing criminals with robot assassins so they could wipe each other out. When the pair arrived, Saxon, flustered by the hero's presence, erroneously reprogrammed the Plastoid to kill Benson himself, which it did in Benson's prison cell despite Daredevil's efforts at protection.
Saxon, furious at Daredevil's interference, traced his creation's earlier activities to Murdock's apartment and, his luck taking a better turn, discovered Murdock and Daredevil were the same man. Craving revenge, he abducted Murdock's girlfriend Karen Page and held her in Murdock's apartment, then awaited the hero's arrival. Although reveling in his new active criminal role as he postured before Page, Saxon was taken by surprise by the Black Panther, seeking Daredevil on an unrelated matter. When Daredevil arrived soon afterward, Saxon fled both heroes but was captured, only to mock Daredevil's inability to prove any culpability on Saxon's part.
The taunting victory only increased Saxon's desire for action, and, offhandedly murdering the imprisoned Zoltan Drago, a.k.a. Mister Fear, he usurped Drago's costumed identity. Claiming to be a reformed Drago, he offered thousands of dollars to charity if Daredevil would respond to his public challenge. Daredevil obliged, but Saxon's improved technology took him by surprise, and Saxon dealt him a demoralizing public defeat. Caught up in his own charade, the thrill-seeking Saxon, still as Mister Fear, embarked on a crime spree but was soon confronted by a newly determined Daredevil, who, atop Saxon's flying platform, unmasked his enemy in a struggle that ending with Saxon's fall to his death, leaving the Mister Fear identity to be stolen by others after him.
However, several of Saxon's robots, standing by in case they were needed and programmed to protect his existence at any cost, retrieved him and, unable to treat his injuries, downloaded his consciousness into a primitive robot body. Saxon, now called the Machinesmith, soon transferred his consciousness into a more humanlike body, although it bore little resemblance to his original form, and returned to crime, selling android operatives to various parties. Hired by the first incarnation of the Corporation to attack the Fantastic Four's Thing, he handled the job personally, employing mobsters to force the Yancy Street Gang, denizens of the Thing's old neighborhood, into his service. They lured the Thing to Yancy Street, where he was set upon by Machinesmith's robots. Aided by Corporation enemy Jack of Hearts, the Thing defeated Machinesmith's forces, and the Yancy Street Gang knocked out Machinesmith himself, who simply projected his consciousness into another robot body and continued his operations elsewhere.
For the next few months he operated mostly behind the scenes, implanting false memories in his android Manipulator, who attacked the Beast and Captain America. He acquired the extraterrestrial android duplicate of Galactus' herald Air-Walker and, though unable to repair it, activated its self-repair circuits, resulting in its battle with Thor. His other android operatives included Norm, who he entrusted to scientist Jonothon Cayre, and Ken, whom he sold to Mystique of the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants.
Eventually growing despondent over existence in a robot body programmed against self-destruction, Machinesmith reanimated the gigantic android Dragon Man and sent him, along with various android doppelgangers of super-villains he had used over the years, to attack Captain America and manipulate him into destroying Machinesmith's computers while his consciousness was within them, supposedly doing the job Machinesmith's programming would not allow him to do. Despite his plan, Machinesmith simply reactivated in yet another robot body, in which form he renounced his suicidal tendencies and embraced his condition. He declared mechanical life superior to humanity and presumably resumed his robot-supply business.
Months later, Machinesmith was offered a position as an exclusive operative by the Red Skull, himself in a newly obtained cloned body; always open to new challenges, he agreed. The Skull sent him to reactivate the Nazi robot Sleeper, immaterial since its defeat by Captain America years earlier. Again projecting his consciousness, Machinesmith possessed, repaired, and solidified the Sleeper, which the Avengers took into custody, unaware of his presence within. At Avengers HQ on Hydrobase, Machinesmith reactivated the Sleeper and several other confiscated robots - Super-Adaptoid, T.E.S.S.-One, the Kree Sentry, and Awesome Android - to wreak havoc, taunting Captain America before escaping to serve the Skull during the Acts of Vengeance campaign against the Avengers.
Machinesmith grew attached to the Sleeper, to whom he elaborated his history while repairing it, and, when assigned to the Skull's task force of field operatives, the Skeleton Crew, took to directing its actions in battle as well as inhabiting its form himself if necessary.
Acts of Vengeance
When Magneto abducted the Red Skull to punish him for his war crimes, Machinesmith used his Magneto android, almost forgotten since its Demi-Men days, in an endeavor to lure the real mutant into action so that the Crew could track or capture him, but it was defeated by Captain America, and the Skeleton Crew ultimately located the Skull by other means.
Shortly afterward, Machinesmith and his teammates Mother Night and Minister Blood mesmerized the Avengers' support staff into planting surveillance devices at Avengers Mansion, but the Vision discovered his operation and temporarily immobilized him, then foiled a last ditch effort to use the staff as suicide bombs.
When the Skull was again abducted, this time by the German heroes Schutz-Helliggrupe, the Skeleton Crew was captured soon afterward, Blitzkrieger overloading Machinesmith's systems, but freed when Arnim Zola created artificial duplicates of the Avengers to take the villains into "custody". Despite acquitting himself well during the encounter, Machinesmith decided that field action was not his forte, and the Skull allowed him to restrict his activities accordingly.
One of Machinesmith's bodies inhabited by an errant part of his program became an assistant to Iron Man during the events of the crisis called the Crossing, which led the Avengers to mistakenly believe that he had reformed. The true Machinesmith used his alliance with the Red Skull to analyze Captain America while he was in Skull's custody, and downloaded all of the Captain's knowledge onto a "coin." With the coin, he framed Captain America for treason then tried to crash the SHIELD Helicarrier with the Argus anti-aircraft weapon, while simultaneously using one of his bodies to assassinate the U.S.A.'s President. He was thwarted on all fronts by Captain America and Sharon Carter, and they recovered the coin.
Against the Thunderbolts
Following his reminder that solo activity was not his strong suit, Machinesmith joined the most recent incarnation of the Masters of Evil, led by Justin Hammer's daughter, the Crimson Cowl, and commemorated the change with a new metallic-looking body. He and his teammates abducted the human-plant hybrid Blackheath to force him to activate a biological weapon left behind by the deceased Hammer; however the weapon turned out to be a biological component that Hammer had implanted in all of his super-agents, and the Masters worked with Hawkeye's Thunderbolts to keep the Cowl from misusing the procedure. With the most recent incarnation of the Masters of Evil defunct, Machinesmith may be at liberty once more.
Powers and Abilities
Samuel "Starr" Saxon has a genius-level intellect, and is considered one of the most gifted robot designers in the world, having vast experience in both cybernetic and bionics. Over the years, he's created a vast arsenal of weapons, defense systems, and surveillance devices, whose specifications he's constantly upgraded.
After breaking his neck, Starr Saxon used a robot duplicate of himself that housed his consciousness to act in his stead. This robot possessed superhuman strength, speed, stamina, durability, agility, and reflexes.
Upon his death, Starr Saxon became a living cybernetic-system program and took the name Machinesmith. As a living program, Machinesmith is able to transmit himself along an infrared laser beam into virtually any electronics system at will, allowing him to transfer from one robotic body to another. He can even place a duplicate of his own program into multiple bodies at the same time, although the number of complex motions he can make his automatons perform simultaneously is limited. The robotic bodies that Machinesmith uses typically vary in their capabilites. He's used ones that possess telescoping arms and legs, explosive launchers, and things such as special infrared or telescopic eyes.
Machinesmith can become trapped in an electronics system if it shuts down before he has the chance to escape it.