Iron Man #191-192
Issue(s): Iron Man #191, Iron Man #192
So of course things have to be settled via an Iron Man vs. Iron Man slug-out.
Before that, though, i guess Mark Gruenwald insisted that his fabulous creation Vibro return.
He serves as the trigger event for the Stark/Rhodey conflict. Vibro attacks an airshow event, and Stark doesn't think that Rhodey is thinking clearly enough to handle a fight in a crowded area without endangering bystanders.
I've mentioned before that it kind of sucks that James Rhodes has to be depicted as an incompetent, careless, and arrogant Iron Man in order to contrast him with Tony Stark. While making Iron Man a black man was a quick way to add some needed diversity to Marvel's core lineup, having him seem like a failure winds up sending exactly the wrong message. A letter writer in issue #191, however, reminds me that that this is essentially the same plotline as the original Guardsman story, where the armor made the Guardsman get arrogant and paranoid and turn on Iron Man. So that helps alleviate the racial element to a degree, in my mind anyway.
And this doesn't end with Tony Stark reclaiming the Iron Man mantle. They fight, Tony wins definitively even though he's in inferior armor, but at the end it's shown that the two friends are going to work things out and Rhodey is going to continue to be Iron Man (for now, anyway).
A minor complaint: the news of Vibro's attack occurs while Tony and Rhodey are arguing at the West Coast Avengers' mansion. Tigra, at least, is on the premises.
But when Rhodey runs off after Vibro, Stark decides that only he can go after Rhodey (with the Erwin siblings in tow). It would have made a lot more sense to send the Avengers to back Rhodey up. I'm not one who demands to know where the Fantastic Four is every time the Avengers are fighting a battle in Manhattan, but if you're going to actually show other super-heroes in an issue, it really should be explained why they don't participate when it's announced that a super-villain is on a rampage.
Luke McDonnell has been showcasing the nerdy-sexy Cly Erwin a bit...
...and she shows some romantic interest in Tony as he's going off to fight Rhodey.
Your enjoyment of these issues is going to be based on how much you attribute the stiff dialogue to good characterization as opposed to poor writing, but i'm leaning towards the former.
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Implant? N
Reprinted In: N/A
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