Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Not All Their Power Can Save Them!

It's often enjoyable while reading comics to just sit back and take in a good free-for-all without giving too much serious thought to how you got there. Yet in the case of Iron Man's conflict with Justin Hammer, a ruthless and unscrupulous business rival of Tony Stark's, it's doubly pleasing when there is indeed a good story behind such a fracas. Hammer, who has proven to be as slippery as an eel for Iron Man to corral, has sought to discredit Iron Man and thus nullify the Avenger's interference in his affairs by pinning a murder rap on him, as Stark learns when he's taken captive by Hammer after an investigation leads him to Monaco. Stark also learns who has been responsible for taking control of his Iron Man armor at key moments:

But Stark is resourceful in his captivity, and soon makes his way to Hammer's lab and retrieves his armor. Hammer, who has no love lost for Stark, calls out the many super-powered operatives he has on his payroll to eliminate Stark's interference once and for all--only to find his defiant bodyguard ready to issue some payback for all the grief Hammer has caused to himself as well as the innocents he destroyed to further his goals.

Which brings us to one heck of a battle issue:

Anybody placing bets on Mr. Hammer? No? Smart move.

While most of Iron Man's opponents here aren't exactly the crème de la crème in the super-villain department, Iron Man is still going to have his hands full with threats coming at him from all sides. But does he look worried?

Well, we can see why Hammer hasn't cornered the market on super-powered hired hands. Taking a 50% cut of his hirelings' profits? Highway robbery at its finest. But with the exception of Water Wizard, who read the writing on the wall here and later decided to bow out of this fight while he could, Hammer's men (and woman) fall on Iron Man like thunder. Only to receive thunder in return:

It's a real treat to see Iron Man wade into so many foes while exuding such confidence, where Stan Lee's Iron Man would often have fretted about his power reserves. But Iron Man, one of Marvel's earliest heroes, has become experienced enough to set the pace and strategy in a battle against such odds, and he seems to have the situation well in hand. Er, hands:

And so in due time, Iron Man is ready to mop up this operation--with a little help from Jim Rhodes, who arrives with the Monaco police just in time:

After Iron Man disables Hammer's floating island, he finds that Hammer has again slipped through his grasp--but thanks to capturing the employee who engineered the murder frame-up, Iron Man is later exonerated. As for our friend the Water Wizard, who took a powder from this fight, he later found himself in a situation where he had no choice but to take the risk of putting himself in the line of fire, by helping Captain America in hunting down the Scourge of the Underworld. I don't think even Justin Hammer would want a piece of that action.

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