Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Betrayal Is A State Of Mind

This Marvel ad from the early '70s is so provocative, it's understandable if you rushed right out to the newsstand to pick up a copy of this issue of Iron Man:

At first glance, it sounds like these high-tech hoodlums are pressuring Iron Man into betraying Stark by giving him up. What hold could they have on him? How are they about to out-gun him and breach his defenses? Who's behind them, and why do they want Stark?

All good questions. Why don't we crack open the actual issue and find out?

Let's start with the head honcho who wants Stark in the first place--the White Dragon, a disgraced operative who plans to regain face by taking control of Stark's mind and using his knowledge to infiltrate and destroy the Defense Department:

I'm no White Dragon, but I might have thought Nick Fury would have been a better choice for this plan, given his greater access to the Defense Dept., as well as SHIELD secrets ripe for the taking. But let's assume Stark was easier to put the grab on than Fury. Once the Dragon has Stark, he subjects him to mental treatments and also implants a tracking device under his skin--and once Stark is released, the Dragon begins to manipulate him.

The one thing the Dragon didn't count on was Stark's dual identity as Iron Man--and when Stark puts on the armor, he partially blocks the tracer's signal to the Dragon. The Dragon misinterprets the signal's loss as an indication that Start is onto him, and launches a preemptive strike with his operatives:

So the ad has joined the issue's cover in playing a little fast and loose with the truth. These guys aren't making any demands on Iron Man to hand over Stark--they're just out to eliminate his bodyguard so that, at least as far as they know, Stark isn't able to use him to attack the Dragon. And Iron Man's resolve not to "betray" Stark is all just a mental tug of war going on inside his head, as he tries in vain to figure out what's going on while grappling with his delirium:

However, once the operatives have Iron Man, they're driven off by his powerful friends who just happen to be in the same area:

Later, the whipped operatives report back to the Dragon, who then decides to cut his losses by destroying his link with Stark, and, in the process, Stark himself:

Yet, even though the Dragon's move once again brings down Iron Man, it seems the armor has once again blunted the attack's full effect. But in monitoring Iron Man and seeing the golden Avenger succumb at the same time he launches an attack on Stark, the Dragon can't help but do the math and come to the sensible conclusion:

So what the heck happens next?

I wish I could tell you. Unfortunately, Marvel didn't produce an ad for that issue.
For what it's worth, I don't think there's any betrayal going on.

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