Iron Man #198-201
Issue(s): Iron Man #198, Iron Man #199, Iron Man #200, Iron Man #201
We start with an "origin" for Stane. "Ruthless businessman" was enough for me, but we learn that he was traumatized by witnessing his father playing Russian Roulette against himself and losing.
The shock caused him to lose his hair (!). Ostracized and psychologically scarred, Stane became obsessed with chess...
...and wasn't above killing his opponent's dog to get an edge.
And that's the kind of can-do spirit and drive you need to get ahead in the munitions industry.
Nowadays, he's convinced that Tony Stark is permanently beaten, but he sends a clunky killing machine (named Circuits Breaker, a reference to Stark's start-up Circuits Maximus)....
...to take care of whoever the new Iron Man is (he deduces that it's either Rhodey or one of the Erwins). But both Rhodey and Stark, in the bare-bones grey armor, team-up to take care of the machine.
Tony's armor is melted in the battle, although it's miscolored to look like his classic red and gold suit.
Art in #198 is by Sal Buscema, and while i'm a champion of his, i think inkers Akin & Garvey have a lot to do with the fact that this issue doesn't feel like a fill-in. Same with Herb Trimpe and issue #199...
...although the Flexographics makes things a bit worse, and i really don't appreciate this panty-shot, which is very odd for Marvel in general at this time and especially for an old-schooler like Trimpe.
But with the failure of the death-machine, Stane goes after Stark through his loved ones. In addition to the previously kidnapped Bethany Cabe, he also kidnaps Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts (as shown in the indignity above), Mrs. Arbogast, and the baby that Tony Stark helped keep alive during the blizzard while he was fighting alcoholism, and he blows up Circuits Maximus, killing Morley Erwin.
Stark has been adamant that he didn't want to wear the new armor he'd been working on, but with Rhodey also injured in the blast that killed Morley, Stark has no choice but to
The above is a variation on an oft-repeated classic sequence. When i first started this project and looked at some older "dressings" i was shocked to see that Iron Man's arm and leg coverings were actually a chainmail mesh, but it made sense: how else could Iron Man bend his limbs? Here, however, the leggings look a lot more solid, and considering that prior to this new armor Stark was working with a replica of his original grey suit, which definitely had solid arm and leg pieces, i'm wondering if he's gone back to a variation of that. I did consult the 1985 Handbook but found the techno-jargon impenetrable. In any event, in future issues we'll see that the arms and legs compress like in previous versions.
Anyway, it's a cool new suit, and an interesting move to change the colors. This red and silver suit is referred to as the Silver Centurion armor, although not in this issue.
Tony fights his way through Stane's defenses...
...including a group of Chessmen that he blows through quite easily...
...before coming face to face with Stane in his own new "Iron Monger" armor.
It's not referenced, but we saw in Captain America #303-304 that Stane was working on a set of armor for himself, although i see he didn't go with my advice and use adamantium when he couldn't replicate the metal from Cap's shield.
The Iron Monger armor was based on the basic design of Stark's previous suit. Iron Man defeats the Iron Monger armor by exploiting a feature of his old suit that caused it to lock up if it was ever controlled by an outside source (which he built after Justin Hammer took control of his armor and caused him to kill a diplomat). Stane actually had the armor controlled by a remote computer, but when Iron Man destroyed that computer, Stane's suit temporarily locked up.
Defeated, Stane puts his repulsor to his own head, killing himself like his father did.
Issue #201 picks up with Iron Man rescuing Stane's hostages from a collapsing building.
We've seen that Madame Masque (later retconned as a "Bio-Duplicate") was working alongside Stane but Stane betrayed her in issue #198.
A mad super-scientist working for Stane, Dr. Atlanta...
...switches Masque's mind with Bethany Cabe's (although Iron Man doesn't realize it).
Cabe, in Masque's body, is jailed but subsequently escapes. We see her take off her mask as she escapes...
...and later we see a woman with dark hair (but no facial scarring, which Masque is supposed to have) buying a gun at the LA airport. I think it's a coloring error and this is supposed to be Masque in Cabe's body.
Atlanta is picked up by AIM, which is in the middle of an internal power struggle (the big guy is Yorgon Tykkio; we'll later learn that the Scientist Supreme is his brother, Valdemar).
They launch an attack on the West Coast Avengers compound. Iron Man shows up to help out, but they don't get to the root of the AIM attack this issue.
This anniversary story is a lot of fun, if a bit by-the-numbers (hero recovers from his previous defeats, faces his arch rival, a new costume, death of a supporting character). I'm a little disappointed to see Rhodey sidelined. M.D. Bright's art on the last two issues are nice, and i enjoy all the little sequences of Iron Man demonstrating his new armor's capabilities (much more than i enjoyed reading about same in the Handbook).
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: The new armor actually first appeared in 1985's West Coast Avengers #1 due to a change in the WCA publication schedule, but storywise this clearly takes place first. This is pushed back in publication time to fit this before Avengers: Emperor Doom. I've also made sure to place this prior to Secret Wars II #3 since the new armor is shown there in a symbolic scene of all Earth's heroes and villains bowing to the Beyonder. Issue #201 is really a standalone story but it starts with Iron Man in the direct aftermath of the battle with Iron Monger and rescuing the hostages.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (11): show
The ending of issue 200 is truly epic. The last words- "somebody lost"- were haunting.
Posted by: Michael | June 23, 2012 11:26 PM
When I first started reading iron man, it was jim rhodes in the suit. so for me it took a long time to get used to the idea that tony was iron man.
Posted by: kveto from prague | July 1, 2012 11:57 AM
When #200 was announced, Madam Masque was announced as still teaming up with Stane.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | January 27, 2013 6:46 PM
Technically, she was still teaming up with Stane- she was just in Bethany's body.
Posted by: Michael | January 27, 2013 9:49 PM
I did not like O'Neil's run prior to this with Tony being an alcoholic. Just not fun. With the dozen issues or so he still has before Michelenie/Layton return though, are very good.
The Silver Centurion armor turned out to be very overpowered storywise early on. Michelenie/Layton would end up powering it down just enough to return it to a good level for fights with villains.
Posted by: Chris | January 28, 2013 1:20 AM
Tony looks like a porn star. They could have made a really interesting storyline with Madame Masque and Bethany Cabe switching bodies, but it lasts only one more issue and is pretty lame!
Posted by: Suzanne | March 5, 2013 4:58 PM
IM #200 was selected by some critics as an example of poor editorial coordination by Marvel. The reveal of the new armor(which some described as looking too Transformer-ish) was ruined by having it published first in Secret Wars II and West Coast Avengers. Besides that, the conclusion of the Spider-Man/Fire-Lord battle was seen in Avengers before the actual battle itself; and Karma's "death" was revealed first in X-Men before it actually happened in New Mutants. It was suggested that Marvel was getting just too big to avoid these things happening.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 20, 2013 4:12 PM
As I mentioned at the beginning of Rhodey's run as Iron Man, DC basically did the same thing at the same time, replacing Green Lantern, then slowly building up to a return in #200. But, as Iron Man was several months ahead, I think maybe DC decided to do a little trick, because Hal Jordan returned with #198 with a different big change in #200. Still there were interesting parallels and both John Stewart and Rhodey went on to become successful long-time characters.
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 29, 2015 10:14 PM
Whatever about the new Iron Man armour looking too 'Transformer-ish', the panel showing Circuits Breaker (as distinct from Circuit Breaker) is very reminiscent of some mid 80s Transformers art. Was that from the issue pencilled by Herb Trimpe, by any chance?
Posted by: Harry | July 30, 2015 10:17 AM
"Still there were interesting parallels and both John Stewart and Rhodey went on to become successful long-time characters."
IIRC, they also both received upgrades to their powers & then lost them and reverted to their previous status.
Posted by: clyde | July 30, 2015 2:22 PM
@Harry, the Circuits Breaker is from issue #198, which was by Sal Buscema. Trimpe's art is in #199, which starts from the text "issue #199" and ends with the image of Stark staggering away from the explosion.
Posted by: fnord12 | July 30, 2015 2:30 PM
I feel kind of weird reading it now, how quickly do everyone brush of Morley's death.
He was one of the main supporting characters, basically helping Rhodey being Iron Man, and now it seems nobody really cares that he is dead.
His sister later says a few words but quickly forgets because Tony is just so hot.
Posted by: Karel | November 29, 2015 8:02 PM
Dr. Atlanta? Sounds like Denny O'Neil was listening to Little Feat's classic album "Feats Don't Fail Me Now" as he was writing this.
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 25, 2017 8:15 PM
Professor Theron Atlanta seems to be a reference to the Shazam! archvillain Dr. Thaddeus Bodog Sivana. (Savannha, GA -> Atlanta, GA) Atlanta shares Sivana's hunched posture and coke-bottle glasses, and Sivana was also described as a Nobel winner in an especially wacky 1940s story.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | May 25, 2017 8:41 PM
@Omar, I see what you mean. Atlanta still has his hair, so as to not look like a total rip-off. Now I feel like I wasted a Little Feat reference, doggone it!
Posted by: Brian Coffey | May 25, 2017 11:01 PM
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