Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Tony Stark: Mad Scientist!


Though Tony Stark's business focus in the 1960s was in fulfilling his lucrative contracts with the Defense Department, he did find the time to apply his inventive genius to more productive ventures that would hopefully benefit his fellow man in some way. Unfortunately, his fellow man was never comfortable when Stark had time to kill, because being killed by Stark's experiments was always foremost in the minds of the villagers everyone in the neighborhood.



It's disturbing enough that the location of Stark's factory--a busy production facility that manufactures munitions and weapons and has government trucks rumbling in and out daily--is apparently located in a district zoned for both industrial and residential use, because as a neighbor there's nothing I like better than looking out my window and knowing that napalm, mortars and missiles were rolling off those assembly lines and that I was only a stray spark away from a conflagration that would force my entire neighborhood to be evacuated and consequently send my property values plunging.

But today, thank goodness, Stark's tinkering will end up endangering someone else's home.




To help mankind, Stark has developed an experimental Earth-borer that will explore the depths of the Earth just as man has begun to explore the depths of the ocean. But aside from oil and natural gas pockets, which companies are drilling for anyway, what's to be gained by sub-strata exploration, except a lot of cave-ins? With oceans covering three-quarters of the planet, you'd think there was enough exploration potential there to last many, many lifetimes, with more than enough untapped discoveries to satisfy Stark's altruistic itch. There's also the fact that the ocean depths extend far, far below sea level--why bore beneath the Earth when you can just submerge?

But since Stark has reached the point where he's ready to power up this puppy, let's let him proceed, even though it becomes clear that he isn't sure whether or not this thing is literally going to blow up in his face.



Stark hasn't even climbed into the Earth-borer yet, and already this procedure has become extremely dangerous, even forcing Stark to order his entire factory to be evacuated. And how in the world are others going to venture forth--er, downward, to explore the unknown when just hitting the "on" switch subjects the user to fatal pressure levels and possibly even lethal radiation exposure?



I don't know about the scientific community at large, but I'm willing to bet that their protective gear doesn't include Iron Man armor hanging in their lockers.

Fortunately, Stark's circuits hold, though the neighbors outside don't seem any more at ease with the situation.



Jeez, all of that, just to activate this hunk of metal. Iron Man doesn't go through nearly as much hassle to charge his own armor. We've seen him bore through the Earth often enough, and he only uses a couple of palm attachments.

Despite this experiment's success (well, if we want to call it that--the Earth-borer itself hasn't budged an inch), it's Stark's rotten luck that the Mole Man chooses this point in time to start causing trouble--hijacking buildings and even skyscrapers in the area as easy as pie. And since these disasters occur just when Stark has been scaring the pants off his neighbors, you just know who's going to get the initial blame.




Of course they're all pointing fingers at you, Stark--you have to admit that, in their eyes, it's quite a coincidence that sinkholes are opening up and swallowing real estate just after your factory has done an impression of Castle Frankenstein.

And speaking of Stark Industries, the Mole Man has finally struck paydirt.




So it's the Earth-borer that the Mole Man is after. Seriously? The man has the technology to swallow entire city blocks and bring them down incredible distances in less than a couple of minutes--what does he want with Stark's little tinkertoy?

As for his missile, all it did was cause a rockslide that the likes of Iron Man can shake off, though the Golden Avenger finds he has another problem to worry about.



Yeah, that's right, Stark! Because a male civilian wouldn't be in any danger at all and doesn't need your protection! Maybe you need a few more tons of rock to fall on your pointed head.

Naturally, it takes little time for the Mole Man and his subterraneans to reach Iron Man through the debris. Again, it seems the Earth-borer is of prime importance to the Mole Man, in order to pave the way for his invasion forces. Apparently the Mole Man is is only capable of creating huge holes, and not small, covert ones.



After battling hopeless odds, Iron Man manages to escape with Pepper, at least for a few minutes of breathing space. The thought occurs to Iron Man that the Pentagon is going to be intent on salvaging Stark's plant, given its importance in manufacturing the country's weapons--but Iron Man realizes that a rescue party will be in deadly danger, and uses his transmitter to broadcast a cease and desist message. Keeping in mind that Iron Man's appearances in Tales Of Suspense are rife with instances that have him constantly worrying about running low on power, it's no surprise that even sending a lousy radio message is cause for concern.




Eventually, however, Pepper is captured--and to save her, Iron Man concludes that the easiest way to reach her is to simply give himself up. The ploy works--and he puts in motion a plan that will not only give them a chance for freedom, but destroy their foe, as well.




So... to be clear, Stark was all set to activate the Earth-borer the following day and use it to drill to the Earth's core--even though we now see that he knew full well that both himself and his factory would have been blown to bits because the darn thing still needed work. Suddenly I have new respect for Stark's skittish neighbors. Maybe they'll launch a class action suit that puts this looney tune out of business.

Fortunately, Stark's factory is trashed, which should put an end to his crazy experiments for the time being. We know that, somehow, the Mole Man would survive the explosion, even though he was at ground zero. It also appears that Iron Man had enough reserve power left over from the power drain of his *sigh* radio transmission to zoom safely away and all those miles back to the surface, and carrying a passenger at that.



Stark's little cover story about the Earth-borer unfortunately puts him on the hook for all those buildings that were damaged, so he might not have as much "dough" to spare on construction of a new factory as he thinks. On the other hand, that story doesn't have much chance of panning out, since Iron Man had already broadcast to those on the surface that it was the Mole Man who was responsible. Besides, Stark--you've done a good job of causing people to worry all by yourself!

2 comments:

Jared said...

Some 60s Marvel is so perfect it holds up perfectly today. Some doesn't. I have generally found classic Iron Man to not hold up well. In any time period, Iron Man and Tony Stark are written to be on the cutting edge of technology. I feel that tends to date the story to the effect it doesn't hold up well after a few years.

At this point, it appears Marvel was putting alot more effort into the Captain America side of Tales of Suspense.

Comicsfan said...

Jared, I tend to agree that Iron Man may have been given minimal attention to an extent--even in Tales of Suspense, where his stories had stand-out moments with villains like the Titanium Man and the Mandarin. Nor was it exactly a vote of confidence in the character's potential when both Stan Lee and Gene Colan left Iron Man in the hands of others after he segued to his own book.

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