Iron Man #255
Issue(s): Iron Man #255
But the twist is that Iron Man and the Dynamo's minds get swapped. Crimson Dynamo is in a training session with a redesigned Devastator. As we've seen previously, the Devastator gets his powers beamed to him from a satellite. And the person Iron Man is fighting, "Freak Quincy", is a person driven crazy from the fact that satellite signals are being beamed into his head. So during the fights, Tony and the current Dynamo (Valentin Shatalov) get swapped thanks to the Devastator's signal getting sent through Quincy.
Thanks to the fact that Tony deactivated the last Crimson Dynamo, this one's armor is more primitive, so Tony winds up getting knocked out.
Valentin, meanwhile, blows off Freak Quincy's arms.
Neither person is too nice about being in the others' body. Valentin sets about learning Iron Man's secret identity, and then taking advantage of the fact that he is Tony Stark to steal technology secrets. But Tony takes advantage of the fact that he's not in a body held upright by a microchip to have sex with Valentin's girlfriend.
Not cool, dude! Not cool!
Tony also learns that while Crimson Dynamo's armor may be primitive in some ways, it's really advanced in others.
Eventually Tony is able to contact Freak Quincy and opens a connection while tricking Devastator to blast him again, so that the mind swap is reversed. Valentin finds that Tony had already arranged for him to be suspected of stealing state secrets, so Valentin is arrested when he returns to his own body.
Tony briefly considers killing Freak Quincy to avoid being messed with further, but instead he vows to help him cope with his situation.
Quincy won't ever appear again, to my knowledge.
The next issue blurb and a note in the lettercol are apologetic about the deadline-induced fill-in that has delayed the prologue to Armor Wars II. The letters in the lettercol are mainly from people critical of the resolution to Stark's paralysis. Some of the letter writers are in wheelchairs themselves, and they find the solution to Stark's problem to be cheap. The response is that creative team changes and Acts of Vengeance have gotten the book sidetracked, but they never intended for that to be the final solution to the story. "There are going to be consequences resulting from Tony's arrogant attempt to buy his way out of his disability - serious ones." There are a number of references to Tony's chip in this issue, probably not a coincidence.
It's refreshing to see that Tony is referred to as "arrogant" by whoever wrote the letter response. I've definitely felt like Tony is arrogant (at a minimum) in the past few years (at a minimum) of the series but it hasn't been clear to me that the writers intended for him to come off that way. This seems to be an indication that they did, or at least that editorial is acknowledging it now. I like Tony Stark to be an arrogant, morally questionable sort of character, as long as we're not meant to think that he's a clean hero.
Certainly in this issue Tony comes across as pretty awful - sleeping with Valentin's girlfriend and considering killing Quincy - but as long as we're all cognizant of the fact that he's awful, i like it.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: We see Valentin Shatalov acquire the Crimson Dynamo armor in 1992's Soviet Super Soldiers #1, which takes place prior to this issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Fnord, I think you're understating the seriousness of Tony's actions. What Tony did was basically RAPE. Bukharin's girlfriend didn't consent to sleep with Tony, she consented to sleep with Bukharin. It's impossible to root for a rapist protagonist, even if we're aware he's awful.
Posted by: Michael | May 20, 2015 9:00 PM
Obligatory TV Tropes link: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/BedTrick
Posted by: Morgan Wick | May 20, 2015 10:07 PM
I think calling what Tony did here "rape" would be wrong. I'm not saying what he did was right, mind you--but it really isn't "rape". Tricking someone into bed by pretending to be someone or something you're not isn't rape. Otherwise every cheater who takes off their wedding ring and hits a singles bar, for example, is a "rapist".
I realize this is a bit different from that because Tony is wearing another man's body (although NOT by his choice), but I really don't feel that "rape" is the right word for it. There is absolutely a form of violation happening here, but "rape" implies a deliberate act of assault (which isn't the case--SHE initiated the encounter) as well as a lack of consent. She did consent--and, as noted, initiated it. Tony took advantage of the fact that she was mistaken about his identity...but he didn't force anything on her.
I think part of the problem is that this sort of violation isn't currently possible in a real-world scenario, a word hasn't been invented for it yet. "Rape" goes too far, but "tricked into bed" doesn't quite go far enough.
Posted by: Dermie | May 21, 2015 12:04 AM
Dermie, several jurisdictions ARE making it illegal to sleep with a woman while disguised as her boyfriend. That was the major criticism of the scene in Revenge of the Nerds, where Lewis disguises himself as Stan to have sex with Betty.
Posted by: Michael | May 21, 2015 8:05 AM
Don't assume fnord doesn't consider this kind of behavior rape. The Squadron Supreme entry makes his viewpoint very clear.
Posted by: JP | May 21, 2015 9:55 AM
I do think it's rape. I don't want to risk a semantic argument that gets into Whoopi Goldberg "it's not rape-rape" territory, but i recognize Dermie's point that what happens here is different than someone breaking into a bedroom window, or even date rape. JP bringing up the Hyperion/Power Princess situation is a great way of looking at it. If we were made to care about Valentin's girlfriend as much as we did Power Princess, we'd probably feel the violation more (i didn't bring it up in the entry and it shouldn't be relevant, but the story actually tries to depict her as being "slutty" and show that Valentin doesn't care about her, as if that should make it ok). Valentin's girlfriend didn't consent to having sex with Tony Stark, and that makes it rape.
But this is a situation that a lot of people would find ambiguous, and my point in the entry is that i think Tony Stark wouldn't see it as rape (i could also, for example, see James Bond doing something like this). And like i said in the review, while i think that's awful of him, i like a depiction of him as a character as someone who is more morally ambiguous, someone that in his pre-heart condition days was a high flying womanizing playboy and possibly worse. It's usually subtext; between the Code and the fact that Stark is the protagonist, stuff like this shouldn't actually happen, and i'm sure the reason it slipped through is because it's a fill-in, as Michael notes, and the unusual circumstances.
Posted by: fnord12 | May 21, 2015 2:29 PM
Apologies, fnord, if you don't want this convo to go on, here - but I feel compelled to not let it go by without saying something.
if a person claims they are collecting money for the homeless, or drug counseling, and presented themselves as such, and even seemed to have the paperwork to prove it - and due to this claim received money, which they then pocketed for their own profit - would that not be theft? Would that not be a criminal violation, not at all mitigated by the "willingness" of the person who was under the impression that they were giving money to a deserving party?
The only way I can understand people claiming that Tony's action above is *not* rape is because they want to maintain some category of sex-by-deception that is "OK." In a context of a patriarchal society, where sexual coercion (and differential consequences for sexual activity) is part of women's everyday, and lifetime, experiences, I can't find any positive reason for wanting to maintain such a category.
Hopefully 'Secret Wars' will wipe this out! (to bring it back to comics)
Posted by: cullen | May 21, 2015 9:25 PM
To answer just the legal (not the ethical) question posed above, according to this article, by California law at this time (1990), this would not have been considered a crime, but the bill referenced in the article passed in 2013, so by current California law this would be considered "rape by deception". Or something similar, since in our world people don't switch brains.
I mention California, simply because that's where Tony is based at this time and because that's where I found the law. My impression is that, sadly, most states don't have laws that cover "rape by impersonation".
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 21, 2015 10:03 PM
I don't think we need Secret Wars to wipe this out, I think The Crossing (ugh!) already gave a readymade explanation for any Bad Tony from this period. And then The Crossing was itself wiped out by the Heroes Reborn thing. I do think Fnord made his disapproval clear, I hadn't read this issue in 20+ years and was a bit taken aback as I was reading his commentary, had totally forgot that scene. I think at the time I saw it as immoral but that it was the sort of thing James Bond got up to, so it made sense that another questionable womaniser character would do. And the TV Tropes link above shows how common this is in fantasy and sci-fi, with examples from progs like Buffy and Smallville. Regarding Fnord's point about Power Princess, a more relevant recent example that got a lot of coverage is when people thought Doc Ock would take advantage of MJ while in Peter's body. That didn't end up happening, but everyone commenting recognised that as rape and would have actively hated for that to happen to MJ, because they care about her. But people may not see this issue in the same way, because Stark is the main character and people root for main characters even if (Bond, Don Draper) they are morally questionable, especially if their conquests are never given enough background for a casual reader to empathise with them. While this is an extreme example, I do in general like the portrayal of Stark as ruthless and arrogant. It makes sense that a top businessman might have different values to Cap or Spidey. I don't know how much was intentional, but I do like that he (without being a Wolverine or Punisher) is always the one of the heroes most willing to become an antihero when he thinks it's required, from attacking Korvac's girlfriend to Armor Wars to the early 90s Supreme Intelligence story. It just seemed like good writing that whenever there was a grotp of heroes, Stark was often the first to think ruthlessly.
Posted by: Jonathan | May 24, 2015 7:19 AM
For some reason I thought Tony's opponent on the cover was Humbug with a new costume. Then I read the issue and wow what a quirky new character. (and what a punny name!) I wouldn't have minded to see him again, maybe even with artificial arms provided by Stark. If someone were to train him to use his powers in a smarter way, he could become a spy/mission control combination and send Tony to stop the bad guys whose schemes he just intercepted. But I'm probably reading too much into a one-shot character lost in limbo for 27 years and counting...
Posted by: Nate Wolf | October 18, 2017 3:53 AM
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