Iron Man #21-22
Issue(s): Iron Man #21, Iron Man #22
So the idea is that Tony Stark is considering giving up Iron Man, in part because of "waning enthusiasm" and in part because he's worried the stress on his new partially synthetic heart might kill him. So Stark offers to hire Eddie "Iron Man" March, a prize-fighting boxer who imagines he's Iron Man while in the ring...
...and a friend of former boxer Happy Hogan, to be the new Iron Man. March of course doesn't know that Stark was the original.
But Happy does, and it's nice to see Stark and Happy discussing the situation without Stark having to resort to any chicanery. It's a good reason to have a few members of the supporting cast know the hero's secret ID.
What Stark doesn't know is that March was just told that he had to retire from boxing because of a blood clot in his brain...
...and that being Iron Man poses an equal risk.
The tipping point on Stark's decision to pass on the armor is due to the fact that he kind of bungled a fight with the new Crimson Dynamo, who is actually Janice Cord's head scientist Alex Niven (actually Alex Nevsky).
So it's March who's in the armor when Stark gets a tip that one of his old foes is being smuggled back into the country, and when he investigates he's interrupted by the Crimson Dynamo. March doesn't do all that well...
...and that's when Stark finds out that March has the blood clot. Stark changes into a spare set of armor and arrives in the aftermath of the battle to bring March to the hospital.
With March's life on the line, Stark realizes he could never pay another man to put his life at risk as Iron Man.
Meanwhile, the mysterious other villain that was being smuggled in turns out to be the Titanium Man (and he's still the original, at least).
It turns out the Titanium Man is after Niven.
Why? Well, it's complicated Communist politics. I'll explain it, but feel free to skip the rest of this paragraph, because who cares, right? Nevsky used to work for Vanko, the original Dynamo. And Vanko defected. So Nevsky became an enemy of the state by association. Nevsky fled the Soviet Union and came to the US to enact this complicated revenge scheme where he worked for Janice Cord's company, which is a rival of Stark Industries. And he also tried to seduce Cord because she was Stark's love interest. And, of course, he built himself some Crimson Dynamo armor so he could beat up Iron Man. But all of that is foiled by the arrival of the Titanium Man, who has orders to force Nevsky back to the Soviet Union now that he's proven himself useful (specifically they want to merge the technologies of the Dynamo and Titanium armor). If you made it through all of that without dying from heart lesions caused by the Mountain Dew you needed to stay awake, congratulations.
So anyway, Iron Man (Stark) shows up at Janice Cord's factory to find the Dynamo flying away with Janice. Stark assumes she's being kidnapped, but in fact he's rescuing her from Titanium Man.
In the confusion, the Titanium Man blasts all three of them...
Both Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo get away in the end.
Sometimes i forget just how big the Titanium Man is.
Even though it's set up to be reversed from the beginning, i'm surprised that teasing the idea of a black man becoming the titular character in Iron Man didn't garner more of a reaction, positive or negative, in 1970. It wasn't that long ago that Al B. Harper just sort of... existing provoked a strong reaction in Silver Surfer #5. And we're still about a year away from the Falcon co-headlining Captain America's book. I wonder if Marvel actually considered the possibility of keeping March as Iron Man.
Eddie March will have a number of additional appearances, including some wearing armor again.
Janice Cord dying, on the other hand, that actually got a few nods of approval in the letters. She's been pretty much a nothing character, and now with the return of the much more intriguing Whitney Frost, it's understandable that they'd write Cord out of the book. Also, Tony doesn't have to wear the chestplate all the time, so it's look out ladies! Stark can't be tied down to one woman!
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: Iron Man last appeared in the Avengers in Avengers #71, and doesn't appear there again until Avengers #76. But the Index and the MCP place a big run of Avengers, through issue #82, as well as Stark's cameo appearances in Captain America #123 and #127, during Iron Man #21. It's possible i've missed something in one of those Avengers issues, but i don't see a reason for that. From what i can tell from the Index, the point seems to be to allow time for Eddie March to train to be Iron Man. And with the sliding timescale, it doesn't seem worth having these issues split up like that. In any event, Iron Man #23 takes place soon after but not necessarily directly after the end of #22, with Iron Man attacking the crew of the boat that smuggled in Titanium Man.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Masterworks: Invincible Iron Man vol. 6 (#21 is an original)
Inbound References (10): show
Love these issues. Really shows just how progressive Goodwin's writing on IM was. A black Iron man in 1970 (even if for just one fight). Killing off the heroes girlfriend (pre-gwen Stacy). Presenting sympathetic russian commies (Egad!).
Give Goodwin credit. He was way ahead of his time and ahead of the curve.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | January 17, 2013 5:57 PM
It's well-written stuff.Good pacing; interesting dialogue. Tuska's art can be a bit... off sometimes but if you read all the other early '70 Marvel books, this one really stands out.
Posted by: Zeilstern | May 13, 2014 6:36 PM
Well, the readers might not have cared so much about Janice dying, but Tony was pretty pissed off about it. Even years later in Avengers #130. ("Desist??")
It's largely Tony's fault, though. He just assumes the Dynamo is an Evil Commie, even though he knows that there are men inside those suits and he was able to get Vulko to defect, years back. In fact, most of the Dynamos have ended up working against Russia, and Tony himself was briefly Dynamo #6.
I wonder where Alex Niven is these days. I don't remember any mention of Alex's fate when Yuri Petrovich shows up as Dynamo #4 in Champions, down the road. Perhaps Alex is still chilling out in Viet Nam?
Posted by: Dan Spector | July 9, 2014 5:36 AM
Niven was not only killed off off-panel, but in the Handbooks. They claimed his armour was confiscated and he was assassinated. Near as I know that's never been retconned away.
Posted by: James M | July 9, 2014 1:36 PM
Good ol' Arch!
He was a great writer and editor.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | August 8, 2016 3:23 AM
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