Characters Appearing: Iron Man, Sub-Mariner
Iron Man #25
Issue(s): Iron Man #25
...but they are unmoved.
The reason for his environmental conversion is an incident at one of his facilities on an island that was inadvertently polluting the sea thanks to an overzealous underling who ignored the safety measures. And that resulted in an Iron Man / Sub-Mariner fight.
Even the underling had good intentions. He was trying to build a solar energy converter (although an apparently incredibly dangerous one).
This is the beginning of a sort-of liberalization of Tony Stark that i have mixed feelings about. Anyone who reads my main blog knows my political views, and i try (and probably fail more than i realize) to keep that out of this site. But i really think Tony Stark ought to be a conservative protagonist. And with that should come a faith in the ability of the free market and the progress of technology (especially the latter, for Stark) to overcome any possible environmental problems. And so it seems out of character for him to do anything that would restrict his productivity for the sake of an externality. When there's demand for factories that produce less sludge, industry will produce less sludge, right?
I guess the fact that he's just making a pitch to his fellow CEOs, and not lobbying Congress for tougher environmental regulations mitigates my specific concern here. But it's something we'll see more of, and i think it's a case of Marvel's generally liberal writers (and this was the early 70s) projecting their own views onto Tony instead of writing him in character.
Anyway, not bad for a "message" issue, although i think the Sub-Mariner is a bit too forgiving.
I think Sam Grainger's inks on this issue add a bit of depth and shading and work better than Tuska's inking last issue, anyway.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place after Sub-Mariner #25.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Masterworks: Invincible Iron Man vol. 6
I really don't see Tony's actions this issue as the beginning of a liberalization or as out of character. Tony isn't a stereotypical conservative businessman. Tony is intelligent enough to realize the long-term danger that environmental damage poses to the planet. And he's pragmatic enough to realize that even if the technology to fix environmental damage is possible, it might not be available in time. And there are several pragmatic reasons for his technology to be relatively pollution-free, like not having to deal with an angry Namor.
Posted by: Michael | January 16, 2013 4:58 PM
I did expect my statement there to be a little controversial, and a large part of it is my own preference. I'd *like* Stark to be written more as a conservative (not necessarily a stereotype) just to see him have more of a unique voice as a character. And even as you say, the writers were forced to soften Stark's stance on manufacturing weapons due to the zeitgeist of the time, so i do see it as this as the beginning of a period where that sort of thing begins to happen.
But it's definitely my own reading and it probably depends on how your individual interpretation and preference for the character.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 16, 2013 5:44 PM
Hey fjord, I agree with you to an extent. Stan Lee claims that he intentionaly tried to make Tony Stark a "jerk" that the reader would still root for, in spite of themselves.
However that doesnt really bear out in the early stories. Archie Goodwin was the second writer after Stan and he wrote a relatively liberal, thoughtful Tony Stark. I highly recommend Iron man #27 which deals with racism and political radicalism as well as any story out there.
It was actually later writers who made Tony conservative (which i agree is more realistic for his type).
I really liked this issue. The cynical selfish but understandable position express by stark's peers feels realistic.
And as you say, even the "bad guy" had good intentions. A halmark of Goodwin's IM run is that there are very few black and white characters. even the villains are painted in neuanced shades of grey.
Posted by: kveto from prague | January 17, 2013 5:37 PM
Speaking of the zeitgeist - this issue came out only a few weeks before the first 'Earth Day' celebration in April of 1970. I think there were other Marvel books that did environmentally-themed stories right around this time. Sub-Mariner #28 ("Youthquake") comes to mind.
Posted by: Zeilstern | May 23, 2014 7:54 AM
Seems kind of weird that the guy talking to Stark at the end says "Who knows what will really happen in ten to thirty years?" in a story now written and published over forty-five years ago. We're still here, so that's something... I guess?
Posted by: mikrolik | March 21, 2015 10:20 PM
That youtube video provides a very good example of Lee's tendency to reconstruct history to suit his own purposes. Whether this is due to failures in his own selective memory or due to deliberate self-aggrandizement is open to question. Iron Man was created in 1963, way before young people had turned against the war in Viet Nam, indeed, many in the US could not have located Viet Nam on a map during that time period. This was before the Gulf of Tonkin resolution and before the JFK assassination. The Viet Nam conflict was not widely regard as much more than a low-grade counterinsurgency effort during a time when our international news focus was mostly dominated by concerns about Cuba and the USSR.
Posted by: James Holt | October 29, 2016 6:45 PM
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