Amazing Spider-Man annual #20
Issue(s): Amazing Spider-Man annual #20
In the future, Arno Stark shows off his Iron Man 2020 armor's roller skates...
...ignores his family, and hopes that he'll become man of the year after selling a new planet buster that he's created to the military. Meanwhile, an anti-war terrorist named Robert Saunders sneaks into Stark's facilities and starts the countdown on the bomb. His intention is to cancel the sequence at the last possible second, just to get "the warmongers to sweat a little", but while he's escaping Stark mishandles his retractor beam and causes Saunders to crash into a closing dome wall and die.
The bomb could still be deactivated with a retinal scan from Saunders, so Iron Man 2020 travels into the past to find a younger version of Saunders.
Back in the past, Spider-Man had just put the Blizzard, wearing a weird looking version of his costume, in jail.
(Interesting how Spider-Man's costume is supposed to be black and Blizzard's is (i assume) supposed to be blue, but thanks to the way comics use blue for highlights on black, they both wind up looking the same color.)
Blizzard has now escaped, wearing an even more weird costume, and by happenstance he's grabbed Saunders.
Since Arno Stark's time machine works in such a way that time continues to pass in his own era at a rate equal to that in the present, Iron Man 2020 doesn't have time for niceties, so he quickly executes Blizzard.
It's a sad showing for Blizzard, who had pulled himself up out of his silly Silver Age Jack Frost origins and had a decent costume and power set worthy of going a round or two with (the real) Iron Man. Granted his powers were very similar to Iceman's, but there are plenty of fire-based heroes and villains so i doubt having two ice based ones was the reason for his death here. You can't keep a halfway decent concept down, in any event, and a new Blizzard will be along soon enough.
Spider-Man assumes that Iron Man 2020 is the modern day version, and while he doesn't seem to have seen him murder the Blizzard, he's not at all pleased about the gruff way that he's grabbing the young Saunders. So Spidey takes it upon himself to help Saunders. At first he's just trying to help Saunders get away, but Iron Man 2020's weaponry is only designed for "total destruction" and in trying to subdue Spider-Man (who he thinks is a local law enforcement agent), he lets loose a blast that badly injures Saunders.
That gets Spider-Man mad and he attacks Iron Man 2020, damaging his armor.
It also turns out that Iron Man's chronometer is inaccurate and Iron Man is forced to return to the future without Saunders, where he finds that the bomb has already gone off, destroying his factory, and killing his family and nearly all life in the surrounding ten mile area.
By using Iron Man 2020, this story has the freedom of having a main character that isn't particularly likeable or competent...
...and a future setting where he can utterly fail without impacting the mainstream Marvel universe. In that regard it's a unique plot and feels fresh (at least since i haven't been reading What Ifs, about half of which end this way). I really don't like the dismissive treatment of Blizzard or his casual death, though. And not because i'm some huge Blizzard fan; i just think the Marvel universe suffers a bit when super-villains are treated as commonplace.
Also, there are a lot of depictions of Spider-Man in this annual that are just wrong.
Peter thinking he's not going to be able to sell photos of his first battle with the Blizzard because of Kate Cushing's policies seems at least a little wrong. Not wanting pictures of Spider-Man fighting street hoods i can understand. Photos of the Blizzard robbing a bank you would think would merit some interest.
I also don't like Peter Parker being so happy about an assignment JJ gives him that he decides to dance with a homeless person.
I agree with MJ that it's dumb of Peter to swing into her apartment window.
And i really don't like the idea that when Peter is trapped in his apartment because he owes his landlady rent money (and Candy and Randi are on the roof), he decides it's a good idea to casually walk down the hall as Spider-Man.
I also don't like the Blizzard's "Never turn your back on a Blizzard!" one-liner. C'mon, Blizzard. You're making Arnold Schwarzenegger as Mr. Freeze look good.
Spider-Man's side of this ends with Spidey bumming a loan off of the father of the boy he saved.
So it's definitely a mixed bag, with some interesting pieces if you focus on Iron Man 2020 but some things that are grating on the Spider-Man side. All in all, Mark Beachum's buttastic art (i didn't share the pic of Randi and Candy sunbathing) tips me towards the negative side.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: I'm only tracking Iron Man 2020's modern day appearances and, as with all time traveling characters, his appearances as listed on this site might not be chronological from his own perspective. I will mention that in the 2020 chronology, this story takes place before his first published appearance in the second Machine Man series (which takes place entirely in the future and is out of scope for my project). The MCP places Spider-Man here in the same breaks in all his ongoing books as Peter Parker, the Spectacular Spider-Man annual #6.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showAunt May, Blizzard, Candy, Iron Man 2020, J. Jonah Jameson, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson, Mamie Muggins, Mary Jane Watson, Randi, Spider-Man
"he decides it's a good idea to casually walk down the hall as Spider-Man."
You say right above a set of panels where he realises that it's a dumb idea three times over.
Posted by: Stephen | January 28, 2014 4:10 PM
"...he realises that it's a dumb idea three times over."
Well it was too late at that point! ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | January 28, 2014 4:35 PM
Fun annual, but very weird for Spidey. I didn't like the death of Blizzard though. I always thought that a cryogenics expert was an interesting villain for Iron Man, and much more could have been done with him than simply someone who shoots ice blasts. "Cryogenics" has a lot of implications that could have been used by a creative writer.
Disappointed you did not include one of my favorite Spider-Man put downs. Calling him "Snow Cone Man" made me chuckle.
Posted by: Chris | January 28, 2014 9:41 PM
Well, there was another Blizzard as an enemy for Iron Man...but he was a hired henchman who was given the suit; not a cryogenics expert.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | January 28, 2014 9:49 PM
Yeah, I'm aware of the replacement - Donnie Gill, I believe? Total cipher. At least Gregor Shapanka had a real background.
Posted by: Chris | January 29, 2014 1:53 AM
I didn't mind Gill, as he was portrayed as low on the villain pecking pole, which somewhat persuaded him to try to reform.
Posted by: MikeCheyne | January 29, 2014 1:24 PM
Added the Snow Cone Man scan.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 29, 2014 3:24 PM
I wouldn't say Donnie Gill was a cipher--a bit underdeveloped, sure, but that's to be expected with third-stringer villains. But he was given some personality when he was first introduced as an Iron Man villain (as one of Hammer's flunkies, along with Beetle and Blacklash), and Fabian Nicieza developed him further during his stint as a T-Bolt. And he just turned up again as the lead character of one of the tie-in miniseries for the "Infinity" event.
I always rather liked Donnie, both as a low-level villain, and as a guy aspiring to try and turn his life around and become a hero.
Posted by: Dermie | January 30, 2014 1:13 AM
Christopher Priest has claimed he wrote the issue in order to reimburse Shooter for buying a computer for him out of his own pocket. I can't see where Jim Shooter's name is credited as writer though???
scroll halfway down this interview in Bleeding Cool:
Posted by: JSfan | November 3, 2016 2:44 PM
Very interesting find. I always liked this issue (I was one of the young Transformers readers mentioned above so it was one of my first Spider-Man issues and I always wondered why the writers didn't seem to do much else.)
Some of the comedy does seem to fit Priest's style at the time. In fact a lot of it seems like him to me, now you mention. Does anyone know if Schiller is an alias or real name? The German poet with similar name makes me suspicious this could be a jokey alias.
Since Ken McDonald only wrote Dazzler #30 which has a lot of Marvel in-jokes (including Harras being questioned on whether the editor-in-chief is a monster - he answers yes by accident and then nervously changes his answer to no), you got me wondering if McDonald is in fact Jim Shooter.
Found an entry on Jim Shooter's website where someone asks him if Ken McDonald is him, since his father's name was Ken & he had a grandparent with the surname McDonald. Shooter denies it, though I remain unconvinced. Maybe it was an alias Shooter came up with for "tax purposes" situations like that, but it was also used by other people? Maybe Shooter was just saying he didn't write the Dazzler issue? Harras or Macchio seem equally likely people to have written an in-jokey story about Harras' megalomania getting out of control when Macchio leaves him alone. http://jimshooter.com/2011/07/its-so-hard-to-get-good-help-these-days.html/
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | November 3, 2016 4:31 PM
It's implied that Iron Man 2020's pursuit of Saunders in the past is what turned him into a terrorist in the future, since he child Saunders's injuries correspond to the adult versions cyborg parts.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | November 27, 2016 8:13 AM
275.36!!!! My goodness, three decades later and you can barely find a studio in Manhattan for 2750.36!
Posted by: Wis | December 23, 2016 2:27 AM
The timing error with the planet-buster bomb introduced at the end of the story seems contrary to the earlier successful test. I wonder if that narration was added so that Spider-Man would stay blameless of contributing to the catastrophe even inadvertently and with good intentions. Otherwise, one could say everything would have turned out fine if he'd just let Arno keep the retinal scanner.
It also feels very wrong for Spider-Man to be able to break Arno's armor with his bare fists. Keeping Arno off-balance with a furious assault until the time shift kicks in would have been enough. He shouldn't be able to take down a Tony Stark suit with brute force, yet alone an Iron Man made with whatever incredible future tech they must have in 2015.
Despite those issues and some out-of-character moments, I like this annual.
Posted by: Mortificator | December 29, 2017 12:54 AM
I always assumed that whatever future tech had been added was basically useless, and they were just coasting on Tony Stark's genius. While I haven't read the issue in a while. I remember Iron Man 2020 lost a fight against an angry Machine Man, so it doesn't seem impossible that an angry Spider-Man could beat him too.
And Iron Man 2020 basically looks exactly like a 1980s Iron Man armour with a talkative computer & some spikes added on the shoulders. I mean, our Tony Stark has added Extremis technology, while Iron Man 2020 just seems to be a suit of armour like he wore in the 80s. Maybe that's exactly what it is, some outdated armour they had salvaged that Tony didn't get around to destroying. I saw it as Tony's inventions were ahead of their time enough that an old suit of his with a few extra additions was still enough to be top tech in 2020.
Also, it never seems that Arno has the experience of using the suit in real situations like Tony has, he's not a hero like Tony who constantly uses the suit. He hasn't even thought to design the suit to have any other setting other than "kill mode". Perhaps Tony would have known how to beat Spider-Man using this suit, but Arno was basically an amateur who didn't have Tony's experience in high stress situations.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | December 29, 2017 6:06 AM
(That said, in Iron Man #250, Tony does fight the Iron Man of 2093 who appears to be wearing armour identical to Iron Man 2020's, where Andros Stark says he is surprised someone is using Tony Stark armour rather than Arno's improvements. That armour seems stronger than Tony's, though if 2020-era armour, which looks not too dissimilar from Tony's 1980S armour, is still top of the line in 2093, then it seems the rest of the Stark family don't have Tony's genius and are happy to coast on someone else's decades-old invention. Maybe Arno knuckled down sometime after 2020 & finally did make a suit better than Tony's.)
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | December 29, 2017 6:19 AM
It should be noted that Machine Man won a fight with a drunk Tony in Iron Man 168.
Posted by: Michael | December 29, 2017 8:00 AM
So, uh, do they actually say Blizzard died in this issue? The minute Arno blasts him, he doesn't seem to be referred to again.
Posted by: AF | January 3, 2018 2:03 PM
And considering this Blizzard costume appears on all of 4 pages, it's amazing to think it's made it's way into merchandise: http://www.minimatedatabase.com/img/fig/fig2589flg.jpg
Posted by: AF | January 3, 2018 3:16 PM
According to his wiki entry, Blizzard did die in this issue.
"Gregor Shapanka reappeared in the guise of the Blizzard. Somehow, Blizzard had lost his bodily power to generate cold and once again needed his battlesuit to create low temperatures. Shapanka returned to crime and formed a gang to aid him. However, upon robbing a bank in New York City, Blizzard and his henchmen were found and defeated by Spider-Man and were taken into police custody. Thanks to his lawyer, Blizzard was soon back at large and kidnapped Bobby Saunders (a boy whom he saw speaking with Spider-Man). Through Saunders, Blizzard intended to get revenge for his most recent defeat. Blizzard mistakes a villainous version of Iron Man from the year 2020 for the modern Iron Man and attempts to ambush him. The future Iron Man however is on an urgent mission to find Bobby Saunders (who would grow up to be a terrorist in 2020) and instantly kills the Blizzard with a repulsor blast."
Posted by: clyde | January 3, 2018 4:27 PM
Oh, i'm not denying he died - just in this issue itself it doesn't actually outright say so.
Posted by: AF | January 3, 2018 5:28 PM
I have that Blizzard figure! I didn't know that Shapanka only wore that costume in one issue until I read this Annual. I guess that speaks to the power of the 80's OHOTMU. This costume is the one in his profile pic. And if you look at the Minimate's face, you can tell they used it for reference. The OHOTMU was probably many fans only exposure to the character.
Posted by: Bigvis497 | January 3, 2018 10:25 PM
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