When we left Tony Stark and James Rhodes, they were probably wishing that Stark's invincible bodyguard, Iron Man, was standing with them front and center, as they found themselves surrounded by an assault team that had landed on a Monaco beachhead on the orders of Justin Hammer. Arriving in the city-state to track down a lead on the man he believed was responsible for framing him for murder, Stark, along with his wingman, Rhodey, was soon attacked by armed men when he was getting too close to discovering the identity of his enemy--and after he and Rhodey had barely escaped with their lives, the two engaged in a highway firefight with their pursuers until finally crashing on the beach and finding themselves surrounded and outnumbered by well-equipped reinforcements.
What happened next, Rhodey remembers to a certain point. What he doesn't remember is what happened to his boss, who is now missing along with those who attacked--leaving him to deal with the locals, who obviously have not rooted for the underdog in the fight that took place in their midst.
While Rhodey attempts to prove his bona fides with the gendarmes, we have the advantage of being able to look back and see what actually happened when he and Stark found themselves forced to make a last stand against Hammer's goons. Had Iron Man actually been with them, things might well have turned out differently, and it would be the goons heading off to jail; but as long as Hammer's technology had forced Stark to sideline the Iron Man armor, Stark was forced to make do with a crash course in self-defense, courtesy of Captain America--and the pupil was unfortunately not yet near the level of prowess of his teacher.
Unceremonious as his capture was, Stark will at least find he's accomplished in defeat what he came to Monaco for: learning the identity of the one who has it in for him. At last, Stark meets his new business competitor--and his ruthless new foe.
It's obvious that Hammer appears to be on near-equal standing with Stark in the business world, though taking a decidedly less honorable approach in acquiring his holdings and dealing with his competitors. To him, discrediting Iron Man by causing him to commit murder was the key to a lush business deal with a foreign country that Stark had all but finalized for his own company, a tactic that worked perfectly once Iron Man had been manipulated into killing the country's beloved ambassador before witnesses. And to the victor, it seems, go the spoils.
(Sort of gives new meaning to the word "Hydrobase," eh?)
Stark is then put on ice--though it's fair to say that, with the information that he now has, it isn't likely that he'll ever see dry land again. Without Iron Man as an option for Stark, Hammer admittedly holds all the cards--or does he?
After being rebuffed for requesting liquor while he's cooling his heels in a locked room--another reminder by writer David Michelinie that Tony Stark's problem with alcohol is becoming a growing distraction--Stark decides that his guard needs a lesson in manners, one that will hopefully lead to a chance at escape.
It looks like Hammer can take the credit for a number of super-powered operatives who have been well-financed and assigned to various missions that have kept them from fading into early retirement following earlier defeats. To what extent Hammer's payroll includes such men and women, Stark is about to discover, as he breaks into the lab that houses Mr. Barnett's equipment which has compromised the Iron Man armor and discovers a way to finally fight back to right the wrongs done to him.
Quite an assemblage of also-rans of the super-villain community, some of whom we've seen before at the PPoC: the Constrictor... the Porcupine... the Spymaster... the Beetle... the Leap-Frog... and joined by a few others, as well as the recent arrivals by helicopter. Iron Man is going to have his hands full--or his opposition will, depending on how fighting-mad Tony Stark is (pretty darn fighting mad) and how seriously Hammer's flunkies regard the gauntlet he practically throws in their faces.
It looks like the worm has turned for Justin Hammer. After all his calculated planning and maneuvering, will this scum finally get his head handed to him??
The retribution of Iron Man!
And thanks to a prior post, you're just one click away from it!
|Invincible Iron Man #126 |
Script: David Michelinie
Pencils: John Romita, Jr.
Inks: Bob Layton
Letterer: John Costanza