Iron Man #280-283
Issue(s): Iron Man #280, Iron Man #281, Iron Man #282, Iron Man #283
Tony's health problems have been aggravated by the fact that he wore the "more demanding" Space Armor during Galactic Storm, and it's burning out the neuro-web that has been protecting him from the techno-virus that he's been infected with.
Any attempt to deal with the problem is interrupted by the fact that Iron Man is teleported to the future. Issue #280 is a story that reminds me of Iron Man #5, with a similar premise. One difference is that the future that Iron Man has been brought to is the one from Guardians of the Galaxy. These are The Programmers, who grew up worshiping The Stark.
Tony really needs to get back to his own timeline and fix his health problems. But he seems to have given up, and thinks he's going to die, so he decides that helping these people fix their technological problems will be like a legacy for him. Alternatively, i think he's so flattered by the idea that people in some alternate timeline worship him like a god that his ego won't let himself just ignore it and go home. If it is the latter, however, it will turn out to be for nothing, since it's said that memory loss is a side-effect of temporal displacement and he won't remember any of this. Which is probably for the best, because it turns out that Iron Man fails to help and the citadel he's working from winds up getting overrun with barbarians, and the final Programmer blows the place up as he sends Tony home. The only real takeaway from issue #280 is that Iron Man's health problems are further aggravated.
In issue #281, we see a consortium of dark organizations conspiring to take advantage of Stark's illness to split up Stark Enterprises six different ways. The organizations that are named are Marvel mainstays Hydra and Roxxon, as well as Moroboshi International and the
Meanwhile, Tony, who has been temporarily revived by Dr. Erica Sondheim, writes up a last will and testament that he keeps a secret even from his lawyer, Felix Alvarez.
Later, a company called Akane Fusion Developments find reason to blame the faulty equipment that is hurting their business operations on cheap parts supposedly supplied by Stark Enterprises. The CEO has a contact in the Yakuza, and through him he hires the Masters of Silence, our cyber-samurais.
They attack Stark Enterprises. Tony initially tries to fight them off with a remote controlled suit of Iron Man armor.
That and a bomb he leaves for them gives him the necessary time to escape. Then he builds the new armor. Note that it's not called War Machine armor yet, although it's beginning in this issue following this end scene splash that the word Iron Man is overwritten with "War Machine" on the cover (which lasts for two issues, #282-283).
Tony goes after the Masters of Silence in his new armor and has better luck this time.
Meanwhile, Rhodey contacts Nick Fury at SHIELD and gets information on the Masters of Silence. Fury is impressed with Rhodey's negotiation skills, and offers to hire him if he ever quits Stark.
The information that Rhodey gets is helpful. It turns out that the Masters have been manipulated by Justin Hammer, who is running Stane Industries, into attacking Iron Man. So it turns out that Stane/Hammer is also part of the consortium.
So now the samurais team-up with Iron Man to go after Hammer.
The Hand seem to be among the members of the consortium as well.
The Masters of Silence are actually absent for the majority of the final fight, which instead focuses on Iron Man being an unstoppable force in his War Machine armor. But when Hammer tries to flee, the Masters catch him.
Stark forces Hammer to sell the holdings of Stane back to him.
We see the remaining leaders of the consortium saying that they expected all along that Hammer's actions would get him eliminated.
When Stark gets back, Sondheim tells Stark that he's aggravated his condition further. We next see Stark making a number of arrangements, and the fact that cryonics are mentioned gives us a hint where this is going.
If i didn't know where the larger story was going, i'd be pretty bored with these issues. Justin Hammer is fine and the consortium could be interesting, but stories about traveling to the future and cyber-samurais are pretty lame. Kevin Hopgood's art is pretty basic, which isn't necessarily a bad thing, but he certainly doesn't help the Masters of Silence be more interesting.
These are the first issues with the new creative team after Operation: Galactic Storm (and the first by Hopgood at all). In a sense they are an improvement over the Byrne issues, which were weirdly decompressed and, when Romita was drawing, kind of frustrating in terms of the lack of storytelling. Hopgood is more traditional in his layouts, and the plots in these issues are pretty traditional too. But we've kind of traded "should be good but frustratingly isn't" for "definitely boring" That said, since this is all building up to James Rhodes getting back into a suit of armor, it may be a decent trade-off after all.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: This arc is meant to begin relatively soon after Operation: Galactic Storm. Rhodey says that Stark "just survived an intergalactic war" (my emphasis). But we know that it's not immediately after Galactic Storm; Stark has at least had enough time and was feeling well enough to meet with Captain America in the bar in Captain America #401. I've tried to fit as few Iron Man appearances as possible between the end of Galactic Storm and this issue, but Stark doesn't really seem to be that ill considering the things he's able to do in this arc, so there are at least a couple of appearances that happen prior to this. Definitely Warheads #3, but at least in that issue he mentions that he's having health problems. Nick Fury appears in this issue, and while it's not definitive that he's the director of SHIELD, it's a good bet that that was the intention (he does offer Rhodey a job, after all). So this would also have to take place before Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD #33, when Fury steps down as director. Tony Stark "dies" between this issue and next, with the specifics happening in flashback. But the MCP places a number of additional Iron Man appearances between this arc and next (or rather, between this arc and the flashback next issue showing his death). So again, even though Stark seems to be preparing for death in these issues, he has the capacity and/or recovers enough to continue to appear elsewhere for a while.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Iron Man: War Machine TPB
Inbound References (4): showAbe Zimmer, Erica Sondheim, Felix Alvarez, Inazuma, Iron Man, Justin Hammer, Kaminari, Kaze, Nick Fury, Osamu Moroboshi, War Machine
I guess Tony Stark being a heart-transplanted, alcoholic, parapalegic, (with probably a few STDs) wasn't enough. He had to get a technovirus now. What next? A hangnail?
Posted by: kveto | March 3, 2016 3:48 PM
Tony's health problems are a joke at this point, and he's still got more heart problems, virus problems, and brain problems in front of him.
Posted by: Mortificator | March 3, 2016 7:21 PM
"Note that it's not called War Machine armor yet, although it's beginning in this issue following this end scene splash that the word Iron Man is overwritten with "War Machine" on the cover (which lasts for two issues, #282-283)." The War Machine armor was never intended to be called War Machine-that was just the title of the story. But the fans described it as the War Machine armor in letters and the name stuck. Something similar happened with the drug Venom in the Bat-books.
Posted by: Michael | March 3, 2016 7:49 PM
Comic panel shows TriNATIONAL Commission, not the Trilateral Commission (which is a real organization). Most likely the Trinational Commission is the Marvel analogue of the same albeit with all its conspiracy theorist glory.
What was the point of the Armor Wars if you're just going to bring in new, generic power armor bad guys? Try something else, or introduce a brand new source of bad guy power armor that utilizes very different technology (even if it is mostly macguffin).
Writers are trying to duplicate the old hear problem schtick, but it is really all too much. Doesn't work, and the character doesn't need it.
Posted by: Chris | March 3, 2016 8:46 PM
The health problems do serve to ground Tony Stark. Seriously, he is a handsome genius billionaire who dates the sexiest women in the world and moonlights as a super-hero who has saved the world dozens of times. Every man would want to be him... if it wasn't for the fact that he has suffered from numerous serious, life-threatening injuries & illnesses. Also, several of these have been caused, directly or indirectly, by Stark's arrogance or carelessness, which serves to demonstrate that he is a very fallible individual.
Anyway, I enjoyed these four issues. I was a big fan of Jim Valentino's Guardians of the Galaxy series, so I appreciated the kinda sorta crossover in #280. I also liked the Masters of Silence. And it was good to see Stark / Iron Man at long last score a comprehensive victory against Justin Hammer, one where he was not only defeated, but his criminal actions were actually exposed to the world.
Posted by: Ben Herman | March 3, 2016 9:13 PM
One more weird thing- Hammer talks like he's owned Stane International since Obadiah Stane killed himself but after Stane's death, Stane International was controlled by the Deltites. I guess Hammer took it over shortly after the Deltites' defeat and never found out WHEN Stane died.
Posted by: Michael | March 3, 2016 10:36 PM
That would make sense, Michael, since we saw in Nick Fury vs. SHIELD that the Deltites were using a Stane Deltite and/or LMD in the interim, suggesting that his death was quietly covered up.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | March 4, 2016 9:08 AM
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