Sunday, November 15, 2009

Essential Showcase Of Masterworks 2

This time I'd like to go over one of my favorite runs on Iron Man.

I'm talking about the run of Denny O'Neil. Sandwiched between two of David Michelinie's runs on the book it is often forgotten that he wrote the book at all. Of course, most readers know about his work at DC on Batman (as writer and editor) and Green Lantern. Yet, even my humble self had totally misremembered that he was responsible for a good chuck of Iron Man.

Although he does start his run much earlier, he really gets going with #170.

Picking up on the classic issue "Demon in a Bottle", O'Neil explores the problem of alcoholism further. With it being too big a problem to be solved in just one issue, a long story arc unfolds. Under pressure and under attack by corporate rival Obidiah Stane, Tony relapses. He gives up being Iron Man, loses his company to Obidiah Stane and descends into alcoholism.

Meanwhile Rhodey has reluctantly taken over as Iron Man. Although inexperienced he manages to beat some of Tony's oldest and deadliest foes, particularly the Radioactive Man and the Mandarin .

Tony becomes lost among the homeless in NYC, hitting rock bottom when he's discovered by Cap in some sleazy motel in a chance rescue.

The woman that Tony has hooked up with in his drunken stupor turns out to be pregnant (he's not the father). She gives birth in the middle of a snowstorm and dies from exposure. Her child lives, his survival provides Tony with both a responsibility and a goal to achieve. This marks a turning point in Tony's alcoholism. He commits himself to rehab and regaining control over his company.

He starts by joining a new company, Circuits Maximus, to compete with Stane but quickly realizes that he doesn't want the company back just the prestige, challenge and satisfaction of running a business.

Meanwhile, the cybernetic interface that was designed for Tony to use has affected the brain of Rhodey in an adverse way. Clouding his judgement and make him increasingly violent. This prompts Tony to dig out his original (Mark I) armor to fight a rampaging Rhodey in the classic (Mark IV) Iron Man suit.

Tony stops Rhodey and comes up with a fix for Rhodey to operate the armor safely. Reluctantly, Rhodey resumes his Iron-ing [sorry] till he can convince Tony to come back. At this point Stark has effectively made his comeback both personally and in business. This sends Stane over the edge. So, what else is there to do besides orchestrate an all out assault upon Stark.

Striking out at the friends and loyal employees that Stark has garnered over the years including Pepper and Happy Hogan (who have two kids...where the F did they go?) Stane is determined to break Stark by any and all means. With both active armors damaged beyond repair Tony starts on a new version. It ends in a confrontation between the two in battlesuits. Stane in his Iron Monger suit and Stark in his new "silver centurion" (Mark VI) armor.

Thus began a new chapter in Tony/Iron Man's history.

About twenty issues later, during the second run of David Michelinie, the classic "Armor Wars" story started. I will probably have another installment focusing on that storyline sometime in the future.

'Til next time...

No comments:

Post a Comment