Sunday, May 12, 2013

When Tavi Strikes!


Don't tell me you don't remember Fangor??



In early 1973, Jim Starlin collaborated with scripters Mike Friedrich and Steve Gerber to produce a couple of back-to-back issues of Iron Man that came at a time when the book wasn't exactly setting the world on fire, with the Golden Avenger battling foes like Raga (the Son of Fire, of course--come on, he's a legend!), Princess Python, a scythe-wielding offshoot of the Super Adaptoid, et al. Starlin's work didn't necessarily indicate a course correction for Friedrich's aimless plots and treatment of the character (a point which a later arc with the Black Lama and his meandering "War of the Super-Villains" would drive home), but it did make for an interesting diversion. At that point, I had seen little if any of Starlin's work, and his interpretation of Iron Man--of any character--was clearly something new and innovative.

Friedrich would script Starlin's first issue, which of course had the distinction of introducing Thanos to the Marvel universe. And with Gerber scripting the second, we could be assured that Iron Man and ourselves would be taking a journey through the offbeat. Starting with this guy:




Rasputin, who has spent his adult life being obsessed with and heralding the coming of the demon, Tavi, is all in a tizzy because of a statue a sculptor is going to unveil in Central Park, which will apparently represent all the evils of man. His rantings are ignored by the drawing crowds of onlookers, though his intrusiveness has managed to have at least one member of the media notice him:




As you probably noticed, the accident has caused Rasputin's hand-made mystic "Tavistick" to come into contact with a surge of electrical energy, and Rasputin later realizes at seeing its glow that he now has a working Tavistick. And when the sculptor, Fival Fuvnik, unveils his statue, "Fangor," Rasputin acts:





That's Iron Man's cue to enter. But he finds Fangor more formidable than mere stone:



And Rasputin realizes that being the wielder of the Tavistick doesn't necessarily guarantee him safety:



Finally, though, Iron Man sees a way to negate the creature's invulnerability and end his threat:



In the end, Iron Man is left with only unanswered questions as to the creature's origin or if one of his old enemies was behind its animation. As for Rasputin, he finally puts an end to his dealings with Tavi, his Tavistick, and magic in general. Though Gerber and Starlin give him appropriate closure in that respect:




In the next issue, Friedrich and regular artist George Tuska take us back into a more battle/conflict focus on Iron Man and Tony Stark (including a noteworthy major development with Stark's heart condition). Starlin's further work on the character would be found as he dealt the Avengers into his plots with Thanos and Warlock. As for Rasputin, I hope he hasn't given up completely on magic. Don't you think he'd make one hell of a Sorcerer Supreme?

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