Characters Appearing: Abraham Klein, Guardsman II (Michael O'Brien), Harry Key, Iron Man, Madame Masque, Melter
Iron Man #92
Issue(s): Iron Man #92
Note also that Midas is one of the top choices for the culprit behind the industrial sabotage. Since he's not exactly been a major character (only appeared once before, way back in issues #17-19), that's a good clue for us.
Along similar lines, Tony gets a call from "Krissy Longfellow" and Abe Klein, telling him that another company called Aerospace Limited has a patent on a rescue-jet that Tony Stark has built. They've somehow managed to file the patent two months earlier than Tony.
Krissy is calling from a car phone, and while they are talking, she starts to scream. So Tony gets back into his Iron Man suit to investigate, and finds Krissy and Abe in a state of incoherent panic.
So Iron Man has to learn on his own that the problem is the Melter, who is robbing a military convoy.
The fact that Iron Man's thermo-coupler is on the fritz is a problem for him. That's actually surprising to me. The thermo-coupler is supposed to convert heat into energy that powers Iron Man's suit; it makes him immune to heat and fire based attacks. As i understood the Melter's powers, they literally melt metal; it's not just a heat ray. That doesn't seem to be the case here.
In any event, Iron Man's armor is destroyed and he takes a dive into the river.
Later that night, a naked Tony Stark is rescued by a passing boat.
You'd think there'd be a secret identity problem in there somewhere, but it's not addressed.
Melter has stolen a nuclear component from the convoy, and he's blackmailing the army. They are going along with it because they weren't supposed to be transferring nuclear material through the city in the first place.
There's a couple references to the Avengers in this issue (see below) so it's reasonable for us to ask why Iron Man doesn't go to the Avengers for help now that the Melter has destroyed his armor. But happily Gerry Conway has an answer for us; he has Stark say that since he's responsible for the Melter (since, as industrial Bruno Horgan, he blames Stark for his financial failures), he's got to take him out alone.
So Tony attacks using his early golden armor.
Now, my understanding of the Melter's powers probably comes from Iron Man #166, where the Melter's ray doesn't work against Iron Man because he's using a suit with a different metallic composition than the one the Melter was prepared for (and there was a similar situation in the Melter's first appearance). And i originally thought that this story was going to go the same way. But the Melter's ray works fine on the "original" (+1) Iron Man suit.
But the suit keeps coming at him. It's pretty clearly remote controlled, but the Melter freaks out, thinking he's fighting a ghost.
Pfft! And Bruno Horgan called himself an industrialist. "Hey boss, i invented a remote controlled toy helicopter! Check it out!" "Ahhhh! It's magic! You're a warlock! Get out! GET OUT!'
There's also a quick check-in with Harry Key and Michael O'Brien. The documents that Key stole from Stark last issue are not satisfying to O'Brien, so O'Brien tosses Key around (literally picks him up one-handed and throws him!) and says that he's going to have to go in and get the evidence he wants himself.
This issue is the only story in Gerry Conway's second Iron Man run that is entirely by him (issues #88-91 were started by Archie Goodwin, issues #93-94 are largely plotted by Herb Trimpe, and Bill Mantlo begins scripting with issue #95), and i have to say that, in comparison to Conway's first run, this issue is not all that insane. The Melter's reaction to the original Iron Man suit is pretty nuts, but Conway is setting up some good subplots with the industrial espionage and the patent problem and the stuff with Key and O'Brien. George Tuska's art is reliably solid.
Quality Rating: C
Historical Significance Rating: 1
Chronological Placement Considerations: Iron Man says that for the "past few days" he's been helping the Avengers with the mystery of Wonder Man's return and the battle against the Living Laser, with a footnote to Avengers #153 and Avengers annual #6. That creates an impossible loop of references with Iron Man's guest appearance in Werewolf By Night #42-43. In those Werewolf issues, Iron Man's armor's power is running low, and a footnote says it's because of the events of Iron Man #93-94. But Avengers #152 references Werewolf By Night #42 (very specifically; Iron Man says that he's battled alongside a Werewolf). Also, Iron Man #93-94 references the patent problem with Aerospace that is introduced in this issue, and Avengers #153 also isn't some standalone fill-in that can take place before Avengers #152, or vice versa. So we can't have Iron Man #93-94 -> Werewolf By Night #42-43 -> Avengers #152 -> Avengers #153 -> Iron Man #92. I'm therefore ignoring the footnote that is least specific, and that is the one in Werewolf By Night, with the assumption that Iron Man's armor problems are due to his battles in Iron Man #88-91 instead of Iron Man #93-94. Luckily, in WWBN, Iron Man doesn't reference the events of IM #93-94 in the dialogue, so it's just an editorial footnote that i'm disregarding. I've also placed this soon after Avengers #153/Avengers annual #6. Unrelated to all of the above, Iron Man also says that he is due to show up for an Avengers meeting early in this issue, but he instead has to respond to Krissy Longfellow's call for help regarding the Melter. I guess Iron Man just doesn't make that meeting.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Tony probably turns up naked in enough odd places that no one thinks anything of it by now. ;) One of the advantages of being a rich bed-hopper.
Posted by: Dermie | February 18, 2015 12:11 PM
Wait, a thermocoupler is a real thing? Or least real in Marvel? Totally just thought it was a Star Wars invention.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 19, 2015 11:35 AM
Posted by: clyde | March 19, 2015 1:30 PM
I like the Melter even if he's really plain because the melting armor always looks like melted chocolate or caramel.
You'd think since Tony has no super powers he should be way more worried about all that flying molten metal touching his bare skin.
Posted by: davidbanes | March 19, 2015 1:55 PM
So Clyde, i'm confused. Can i wear one around my neck and walk into a fire to charge my cellphone or not?
Posted by: fnord12 | March 20, 2015 9:12 AM
If I knew the answer to that, I would be as rich as Tony Stark.;)
Posted by: clyde | March 20, 2015 9:22 AM
Fnord, I definitely don't recommend using the ones from the Millenium Falcon. My guess is they break a lot.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 20, 2015 11:27 AM
This is one of the only times the Melter has a plan that doesn't involve attacking superheroes; he's lucky that the superhero who showed up to stop him is the one guy who's most vulnerable to his gimmick. To someone like Spider-Man or Daredevil, he's just a guy with a ray gun that he can only aim by turning his whole body.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 6, 2018 7:41 AM
Oh, also, the story never explains how Iron Man found the Melter's headquarters; he just sort of...shows up there.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | July 6, 2018 7:49 AM
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