Iron Man #249-250
Issue(s): Iron Man #249, Iron Man #250
This is a fun arc, but i don't really like the depiction of Dr. Doom. I've come to realize that my idea of what Dr. Doom should be has a lot less basis in how Dr. Doom is usually depicted than he really is. My vision of Doom, which probably comes largely from John Byrne's FF run (but a reinforcement of this view comes from the Emperor Doom graphic novel, which was co-plotted and scripted by David Michelinie, who is also doing the same here), is a guy who is ruthless but honorable, and is driven by a probably accurate assessment that he could run the world much better than it is currently being run, and all we'd have to give up in return is our pesky freedoms. I don't see him as the kind of person who would sit listening to a concerto with his fist out like a Roman emperor at an arena, waiting to give a thumbs up or a death-delivering thumbs down based on the quality of the performance.
He's a guy that would only hire the best concert performers possible, sure, but once that was done i see him as a guy that would sit and appreciate the music, not terrorize the musicians. After the concert, Doom's judgement is interrupted by the sudden appearance of a mysterious artifact, and the musicians slink off agreeing that they need to practice more.
A similar artifact manifests in front of Iron Man. Both Doom and Stark dump their artifacts onto subordinates to investigate, and meanwhile Stark gets a check-up from Dr. Erica Sondheim, who tells Tony that the biochip that has cured his paralysis would be the greatest boon for humanity since the Polio vaccine. With a smug grin, Stark tells her that the chip is still years away from general release.
Stark then goes off for a joy ride with Rae LaCoste, who was the one woman that stuck with him while he was paralyzed, so he's feeling loyal to her. While Tony is out, Doom's minions inform him that Iron Man received the similar artifact, so when Tony gets home he's got a visitor.
Tony, of course, has no intention of turning his artifact over to Doom, so he gears up for a fight. He has all of the Stark facility cleared out, including his security chief Garrison Quint (in his last appearance). But James Rhodes insists on sticking around, armed with a giant chain gun.
Meanwhile, Iron Man fights off robots sent by Dr. Doom. Whenever i see the cover of this issue, i have this brief moment where i think, "Wait, is Iron Man fighting Darkhawk?" (i guess it's just the way those pink lines look like wings), but they are just ordinary robots.
And they are mostly just a distraction, allowing Doom to get around Iron Man into the compound to the adamantium vault where the artifact is being held.
Rhodey has a detonator that is supposed to destroy the artifact if Doom gets to it, but instead of being destroyed, the artifact floats over to Dr. Doom.
Rhodey then goes out to help Iron Man with the robots...
...and then informs him that Doom got the artifact.
Iron Man goes after Doom (at a rented compound in California where he is staying). As Iron Man approaches, the combined artifacts begin to react.
And as Iron Man arrives, the artifact teleports them both to the future.
Compare the above panel to the "Camelot. Camelot? Camelot!" scene from Iron Man #150.
The two armored characters are greeted by Merlin (who was not in the story in #149-150).
Merlin 2093 is a bit too flippant for my liking.
Merlin brings Iron Man and Dr. Doom to the King Arthur of the future, who is just a little boy.
The explanation is that while Merlin was "trapped in mystic slumber", the boy that he intended to be reborn as King Arthur was frozen in a test tube by parents who wanted to delay his birth until after their careers had been established.
It's because Arthur is so young that he and Merlin need help from Iron Man and Dr. Doom. The problem is a satellite with a death ray, and the world of the future, which has eliminated crime and strife, is unprepared to deal with it. Doom refuses to help and instead leaves to mug some kids for their gravity belts.
But Iron Man agrees to help, although with his current streamlined armor he needs some parts to get it ready for space travel. So Merlin takes him to Radio Shack (so this must be an alternate future).
When Iron Man flies up to the satellite, he finds it guarded by Andros Stark, grandson of Arno Stark, who was Iron Man 2020.
Andros' 2020 armor overpowers Tony's 1989 version.
So Tony gets shot back down to Earth.
Dr. Doom, meanwhile, has taken over a local boutique factory and, in a matter of panels, whipped up a new time machine for himself. His intention is to bring the technology of 2093 back to the present for an easy takeover (are we sure he's not related to Kang?).
But the problem is that since he came to the future via magic, he can only return that way. So he heads back to Merlin to complain.
Meanwhile, Andros Stark goes to the guy he's working for, which turns out to be an old Dr. Doom.
Old Doom is already aware that Iron Man and his younger self are in his time period, and of course he and Andros are already planning to betray each other.
Now back to present day Doom complaining to Merlin. Here's where i really start not liking Doom's portrayal. "Squirrelly"?
Since Iron Man couldn't defeat Andros, King Arthur takes him to the Lady of the Lake. Except that the Lake has been paved over.
But Merlin is able to fix that.
Doom tries to take Excalibur first, but fails. "This is not the way to get on my good side"? At this point, i'm thinking Doombot programmed for demeaning comedy.
Doom decides to go after his older self while Iron Man goes after Iron Man 2093/2020.
Old Doom is prepared for his encounter with young Doom.
If i seem a little down on all of this, i do like Iron Man's grudging acceptance of magic during his fight with Andros, and i really like the sequence between the two Dooms.
One thing i never like, though, is stories where the characters lose their memory of it by the end. And that's what happens when Doom and Iron Man return to the present. Doom had still wanted to bring back some technology, but Merlin said that it wasn't possible to bring anything back, and it turns out that's very literally true and it even includes their memories of the encounter. So while Doom left his encounter with his older self hoping to change the events of the future such that he doesn't grow into what he sees as a pathetic being, he's now unable to do that. Stark was also pleased to learn that he will have progeny in the future (even if they are murderous psychos) but he doesn't get to keep that memory either. One nice touch was that when Doom and Iron Man were traveling to the future at the beginning of issue #250, they experience a sense of deja vu that i originally thought was just a reference to issues #149-150 but i think now also references to the way things land at the end.
In any event, since Iron Man and Doom no longer know what they were fighting about, they warily part ways.
These issues end David Michelinie & Bob Layton's second Iron Man run. Bob Layton will have a couple more issues without Michelinie in the period of oneshots or fill-ins or whatever before John Byrne's run begins with issue #258. The Iron Man book has actually been blessed with creative teams for over a decade, from the first Michelinie & Bob Layton run to Denny O'Neil's run, to Michelinie & Layton's return, and then Byrne and John Romita Jr's upcoming run. All of those runs have some faults but they are pretty good and the book remains a highlight even as other Marvel books from around this time are floundering.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: As mentioned above, this really isn't part of Acts of Vengeance in a meaningful sense. It doesn't necessarily have to, but just to keep things cleaner i'm placing this before Thor #409-410, where Loki recruits Dr. Doom into the Acts of Vengeance cabal. A note on Merlin: the MCP has him appearing here between regular present day appearances, but based on Merlin's backstory for the young King Arthur, that doesn't seem like it could be correct. So Merlin, and Arthur, for that matter, are not listed in the Characters Appearing section, since i don't count the locals in time travel stories.
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showDr. Doom, Erica Sondheim, Garrison Quint, Iron Man, Mrs. Arbogast, Mrs. Fruitbagel, Rae LaCoste, War Machine
A clever use of exact words this issue- Tony wishes that Rae knew how much she meant to him, and the narrator tells us that "She KNOWS". Not that she RETURNS his feelings. Remember, Rae was intended to be Madame Masque.
Posted by: Michael | March 22, 2015 5:32 PM
Sorry Victor, but unless its Doreen Green involved, anything referring to "squirrels" in Marvel just won't work! But hey...at least they had more hope for the survival of Radio Shack in "the future" considering current events. (that and elements swiped from Back to the Future II)
Posted by: Ataru320 | March 22, 2015 8:12 PM
I wonder what that line about how Andros "must be a future version (of Tony)" is supposed to express. Is it a manifestation of Tony as a self-important narcisist who expects to be reborn in his descendants?
Posted by: Luis Dantas | March 23, 2015 12:32 AM
The Iron Man book is the only one that I've found still interesting after 88 but I feel that even this book is starting to flounder. I think we're seeing the beginnings of the decline in quality in regard to stories at Marvel.
Posted by: JSfan | March 23, 2015 7:38 AM
I'm curious of Andros' relation to Arno Stark, since Arno indirectly got his wife and child killed in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #20. Time-travel in the Marvel universe still confuses me, though; I'm never sure if we're seeing actual time-travel or inter-dimensional travel.
Posted by: TCP | March 23, 2015 9:14 AM
There's a paradox there. If 1989 Doom had his memories of the future erased, 2093 Doom wouldn't remember his younger version killing the older version. He didn't bring that memory back with him.
Posted by: grandizer | September 9, 2015 1:02 AM
Perhaps the memories returned to Doom 2093 as it was back where they belong?
And Arno could easily have had another child.
Posted by: Tim Roll-Pickering | October 26, 2017 3:18 PM
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