Saturday, February 8, 2014

The New Iron Man!

If you're a guy that goes by the name of Firepower, chances are you're going to make an explosive debut. And that's exactly what Jack Taggert did, by targeting Iron Man with a nuclear device and blowing him out of the desert sky in Iron Man #230. Dozens of witnesses saw the weapon's impact on Iron Man as he attempted to retreat from the battle--and, given the fragments of his armor scattered over the terrain, coated with his blood, there could be little doubt from anyone that the ex-Avenger had met his end.

Unless you're Tony Stark, watching reports of his "death" and licking his many wounds from the beating he took from Firepower:

But, hang on--we saw the same thing that everyone else saw, didn't we? Iron Man knew that his presence on the 'copter with Rhodey would endanger his friend's life, and so he sacrificed himself--right? Well, it might have indeed come to that, if not for a little quick thinking:

But, with the deception comes a surprising decision from Stark, who comes to the conclusion that Iron Man's "death" should be a final one:

So, that's it?? No more Iron Man? I guess we'll just be reading about the business dealings of Stark Enterprises from now on. But not if Firepower has anything to say about it.

And speaking of Firepower, the military has come to collect its new property from the armor's manufacturer, Edwin Cord. But Cord still has a grudge with Tony Stark, the man who ruined his company, and he has altogether different plans for Firepower:

It's not long after that before Stark Enterprises begins to see its business dealings suffer, with Firepower becoming Cord's enforcer and using his armored might to blunt Stark's every effort to rebuild his company's image and profits which were affected by Iron Man's illicit activities during the armor wars. Shipments are destroyed, and buyers are threatened in a campaign by Cord to destroy his rival. Eventually, Cord sends a clear message to Stark about his intentions, using a messenger who makes sure it's taken seriously:

And Stark does take the warning seriously. But at the opening of a new branch of Stark Enterprises in San Francisco, Firepower finds his warning has produced an equally harsh response:

Since Cord has effectively tied the hands of the military where Firepower is concerned--pressure which has trickled down to the police, as well--Stark has realized that he's the only one who can stop Cord's plan. And so he's designed a new suit of armor, though one he plans to destroy once Firepower is dealt with, fearing that it, too, could fall into the wrong hands. As for Firepower, he's as cocky as ever against this "new" Iron Man, having no reason to think that the foe he obliterated has returned from the dead--but, thanks to Stark's innovation with the new armor, he's in for a few surprises:

Already, much of Firepower's weaponry has failed, as Iron Man takes the initiative and keeps it. And Firepower finds himself playing for time that Iron Man doesn't plan to give him:

Finally, Firepower has no choice but to deploy the weapon that "killed" the "other" Iron Man. However, as with Firepower's other offensive measures, Iron Man is a step ahead of him:

Iron Man then successfully deactivates the warhead's timer. But, even soundly defeated, Firepower has one last parting shot for Iron Man which later gives Stark food for thought:

With both Taggert and Cord carted off to nice, comfy prison cells, it seems it's finally onward and upward for Stark's company, with Stark having found at least a semblance of closure from the armor wars. As for Iron Man, everyone (particularly the Avengers) will have to adjust to a "different" man being in the armor, though we know in hindsight that it's only a temporary concern. I wonder how Taggert will feel when he's eventually told that the notch he'd carved from his "victory" will have to be sanded over?


George Chambers said...

I believe the Armor Wars arc marked the beginning of Tony's moral relativism - or to put it another way, his "lying, cheating asshole" stance - which culminated in Civil War, which no one's ever going to let him forget. He committed quite a few crimes in that arc (assaulting Stingray, destruction of government property, reckless endangerment) and hid behind his alter ego. What I found jarring about it when I first read it was that Cap and Thor knew Tony was Iron Man and did nothing about it.

Anonymous said...

Okay, best things first.

The panel where Jack's face is reflected in Iron Man's mask is really good. An instance where the artist makes the story come alive.

Second: I said it before and I'll say it again........the hair. On Tony and Jim. Were they intentionally going for a Miami Vice feel in the portrayal of these characters?

The Prowler (not really wanting to know the answer and Dag Nabbit, just soiled himself again).

Comicsfan said...

George, Cap actually did step in and attempt to get through to Stark while he was involved in the armor wars. In the end, Cap was willing to give Stark the benefit of the doubt, though he wasn't really given much choice in the matter.

Prowler, this happened to be artist Mark Bright's last issue on the title--and yes, he did do a fine job, didn't he?

Hube said...

Anon: Yes, David Michelinie and Bob Layton did indeed go for a "trendy" 80s look for the cast. One issue around that time had Tony visiting old friend Rae LaCoste to get that new do. :-)

Anonymous said...

It's a sad fact that, after the terrible things Tony Stark did during the Civil War event and after the way Marvel dishonorably tries to whitewash his crimes with retconning, having everyone short of a personal appearance by God vindicating him, and now officially declaring as company policy that he was in the right, now I find myself cheering every time I see Tony Stark beaten up or nearly killed in one of these retrospectives, and I skip over the section where Tony wins.

Iron Man is getting a lot of fans thanks to the movies, fans who have never read the Civil War mini-series, and that's really the only reason his comic title hasn't tanked altogether. Older fans will never forget or forgive Tony Stark so long as he pretends what he did was right, but the younger fans who replace us do so in blissful ignorance of the Civil War, so they will cheer him on.