The Transparent Fox:
Iron Man #109-112
Issue(s): Iron Man #109, Iron Man #110, Iron Man #111, Iron Man #112
In the aftermath of the fight with the Growing Man (see Chronological Placement Considerations below), Iron Man responds to questions about the whereabouts of Tony Stark by deploying an LMD.
The "twin brother" line makes me think of Mike Murdock.
Also during this opening sequence, Eddie March casually mentions the fact that the reason he can walk again is thanks to an electro-therapy developed by Stark, and Iron Man agrees to take on Jack of Hearts as an apprentice.
Some time later (again, see the Considerations), Jack of Hearts works with some SHIELD scientists, using his computer-like brain and his zero-fluid powers to analyze the Growing Man, and they discover that it came from the moon.
Iron Man and Jack of Hearts head to the moon to investigate (leaving behind Madame Masque, who vows to herself that it's the last time she'll be sidelined).
Their Quinjet is attacked upon approach, and they crash land. Also having crash-landed are three Soviet super-people: Darkstar, a new Crimson Dynamo, and Vanguard, also a new character.
Jack and Iron Man initially assume that the Soviets are responsible for their crash, and, worse, Iron Man assumes that this Crimson Dynamo is the one that killed Janice Cord, so a fight breaks out even though Iron Man had worked with Darkstar when she was with the Champions.
After their fight, which helps to introduce Vanguard and prove he's not just a "second-rate Thor"...
...Iron Man and Jack of Hearts move forward to investigate the actual cause of their crash. And it turns out to be a rogue group of Rigellian Colonizers.
The Soviets soon join in.
The good guys also make an alliance with the High Evolutionary's Knights of Wundagore (this is the original batch that left Earth after their encounter with Thor, not the group on Counter-Earth).
In addition to their usual advanced technology, the Rigellians have also re-purposed Galactus' Punisher robot.
Iron Man defeats the robot the way only he can: with roller-skates.
In the end the Recorder shows up to strip the renegade Rigellians of their ranks.
Back on Earth, Madame Masque is running Stark Industries through a Tony Stark LMD (this isn't a sinister plot; Tony and Whitney are dating and he gave her the LMD to keep her company while he was away).
Jasper is still mooning after Madam Masque.
Mantlo has fun plotting as you can tell by all the disparate pieces of the Marvel Universe he brings together, but he's not a great writer and he's a bad scripter. Having the neophyte hero Jack of Hearts, who just met Iron Man, casually calling him "Shellhead" is just bad writing. The art isn't great but you really can't go wrong with big headed weirdos in space.
I should also note that i'm probably underplaying the significance of the US and Soviet heroes accepting each other and working together for this story. There's a fair amount of drama around that and while Mantlo's scripting makes me roll my eyes at it, it probably was a step forward for the time.
Under the pretext of the Rigellian's performing a scan, issue #110 provides a nicely detailed blueprint of Iron Man's current armor technology. It's come a long way from the early days.
In set-up for future stories, we see that someone has infiltrated Stark Industries. There's also a brief look in on Happy & Pepper at their ranch house, enjoying a life away from Stark.
In the lettercol for issue #109, there's a blurb saying they received a "beautifully rendered, but, alas, non-reproduceable" comic strip letter from Fred Hembeck. In issue #112, a Hembeck strip is included instead of a lettercol.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The first 8 pages of issue #109 take place directly after #108, but i had to split it up because the rest of this story takes place much later (issue #108 ties back to a story that began in #103 and has dependencies with various other books, and the main story from #109 continues in #110-113 and has dependencies with different books). So i'm treating the first 8 pages of #109 as flashback (which means characters only appearing there aren't listed as Characters Appearing). The MCP places these issues during the Korvac saga; i've placed it afterward and before Iron Man's appearance in Thor #270-271. Takes place concurrently with Fantastic Four #193-194.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (11): show
Issue #112 is an obvious reference to "Star Wars".
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 28, 2011 5:46 PM
Herb Trimpe and Keith Giffen were the announced artists for the next two issues, but i don't know if that actually happened.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 26, 2012 4:45 PM
According to the marvelwikia, Trimpe and Pollard were the pencilers for issue 113 and Giffen was the penciler for issue 114.
Posted by: Michael | August 26, 2012 5:25 PM
Hembeck's page actually kicked off his long-running fanzine cartoonist career.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 21, 2013 4:52 PM
I've always thought of Darkstar, Vanguard and Ursa Major as a solid team, so it's strange to see that all three of them were introduced separately. Do they even mention the relationship between Darkstar and Vanguard in these issues?
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 4, 2015 12:38 PM
Darkstar and Vanguard don't learn that they are brother and sister until Hulk #258-259, the same story that introduces Ursa Major.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 5, 2015 1:13 PM
youd think tony would be a bit tentative about using an lmd after the trouble he had with the last one.
Posted by: kveto | February 27, 2016 12:56 PM
Marvel Team-Up #55's last panel suddenly introduces a "silver egg" that someone believes to be seen in #109. Not sure about it.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | April 5, 2016 1:02 AM
Luis, I can't imagine that it's not intended to be the same silver egg, especially since Mantlo wrote both stories. MTU #55 ends by noting that “unnoticed, a gleaming silver egg lies undisturbed” in the Blue Area, and in IM #109, they find a silver egg (in reality a transporter) the Colonizers left in the Blue Area.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | May 7, 2016 1:44 PM
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