The Small Lebowski:
Iron Man #95-100
Issue(s): Iron Man #95, Iron Man #96,Iron Man #97, Iron Man #98, Iron Man #99, Iron Man #100
Iron Man has reconfigured his armor so that "two bit", "penny ante" villains like the Kraken can't threaten him again. Guess someone had some opinions about the previous arc.
Then, after some workplace flirting with Krissy Longfellow...
...he's contacted by a Senator Hawk, who wants to talk to Tony Stark about evidence that shows that Stark has been bribing Senators.
Hawk believes that Stark is being set up.
But when Tony shows up in Washington, he's attacked by Ultimo.
Stark has been having dizzy spells lately, so both he and the Washington Monument get smashed.
Luckily, Jasper Sitwell shows up in a nifty SHIELD flying vehicle...
...and rescues Iron Man, giving him a chance to recharge his batteries.
Over Sitwell's objections, Iron Man then returns to the fight, and recalling the fact that he's defeated Ultimo in the past by knocking him into a volcano, he digs a tunnel to the Earth's core and leads Ultimo to it.
I'm going to go ahead and call that insane.
During the fight with Ultimo, someone snags Tony Stark's briefcase, and it turns out to be Senator Hawk's assistant Jon Rich.
Meanwhile, Michael O'Brien previously had Harry Key steal what we find out are the plans to Stark's factory, so he sneaks into the installation. Krissy Longfellow notices him...
...and since Stark's security team apparently consists of two guys on a perpetual coffee break...
...she investigates herself, gets knocked out, and wakes up to find O'Brien in the Guardsman armor.
Since his suit was badly damaged in the fight with Ultimo, Sitwell takes Iron Man back to Stark's factory, blowing off the Senate hearing. But Iron Man immediately finds himself facing the Guardsman.
Iron Man sneaks off to do a quick repair, and then the fight continues.
O'Brien almost miraculously starts suffering from cognitive dissonance...
...and soon collapses.
Iron Man puts him in "Avengers custody", meaning that he's going to keep him prisoner at the factory instead of letting SHIELD take him away. But things don't let up for a minute, because now Sunfire attacks Stark's lab because he doesn't like a business deal between Stark and Japanese scientist Professor Watanabe.
Stark's current suit is still damaged. He had been working on a new suit, but it's not finished, so he goes off to face Sunfire in the Guardsman armor.
This act of bravery causes O'Brien to come to respect Tony, so he puts on the new suit of armor once it is finished and helps out. Iron Man's new armor does away with the solar battery cells he's used to power it in the past. Shame.
Stark's Guardsman armor is nearly destroyed and his heart is aggravated during the fight. While O'Brien fights Sunfire in the current Iron Man armor, Stark tries to find another suit, but discovers that all of his suits have been stolen except for one of the really old ones (the original red and gold suit with the pointy cat ears), which is given to him by a mysterious woman (who will turn out to be Krissy Longfellow/Madame Masque).
He goes after Sunfire in the old suit...
...and pretty handily defeats Sunfire.
But again, things don't let up for a second. During the fight with Sunfire, the Guardsman (in Iron Man's new suit) was teleported away, and it turns out to be the work of the Mandarin.
Art in this series has been a bit inconsistent, but that is by far the best costume the Mandarin has ever had. Get rid of those thigh high boots and you may really have something.
Stark takes a Quinjet to the Mandarin's castle and rescues O'Brien. He takes his new suit and sends O'Brien home in the Quinjet.
And so, for the 100th issue of Iron Man, we have a battle with the Mandarin.
The Mandarin says he wasn't really dead after his battle with the Yellow Claw, and instead had transferred his consciousness to his rings, and when Loc Do put them on, he possessed him and i guess made him take Mandarin somewhere where he could recover and then lie to the Claw about it (it's not explicitly said). Mandarin says that Loc Do is now dead.
In addition to his new costume, the Mandarin also has some infrared shades.
But the Mandarin is defeated waaaaay too easily, and through a very cheap method.
Oh. You can do that? Then why haven't you ever...? Ummm, well, ok, let's move on.
To wrap up the other lingering plot, it turns out that Jon Rich was a lacky of the Mandarin, and that the bribery scheme was set up by him. But it also turns out that Tony Stark and Senator Hawk suspected something was up, and they deliberately arranged it so that someone would steal Tony Stark's suitcase and try to reveal it during the Senate hearing. And Stark has rigged the suitcase to dissolve.
When the Mandarin saw that happen, he remotely kills Jon Rich. Iron Man, unwilling to kill the Mandarin and unable to imprison him in China, smashes all his equipment and leaves.
Stark has clearly been doing some serious working out, and i love his hair and mustache styles at this point, too. He could easily double as a low grade henchman if he wanted to.
On Jim Shooter's blog, he says this about Iron Man #100, on a post talking about Bill Mantlo's plagiarism issues:
If anyone is interested, they can check Bill's Iron Man #100 against one of Archie's Iron Man stories featuring the Mandarin. Issue #50, maybe? I don't know. Archie was editor of the black and white magazines at that time, and I was associate editor on the color line. Archie, who seldom complained about anything, came to me and asked how I could possibly have allowed Bill to rip off his story like that. He was seriously upset. The answer was that I hadn't read Archie's story, published years earlier, and didn't know Bill's was a carbon copy.
Shooter should probably be more careful about writing stuff like this from memory. Some of the other examples he lists are indisputable, but i don't know what this one is about. Iron Man #50 isn't a Mandarin story and it's not by Goodwin. And this story is not a "carbon copy" of Goodwin's Mandarin appearances from issues #9-11. None of the elements are the same except in the most basic sense that it's a Mandarin fight. Shooter could be misremembering who complained to him, but this plot didn't immediately remind me of any other issues.
That said, it's a pretty disappointing Mandarin fight. Overall it's a decent run of adventures, even if they do all run into each other.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: The MCP places a run of Iron Man beginning with #95 and through the middle of #109 between Avengers #166-167. At the end of this arc Iron Man is in Asia, and he'll next be seen stopping at Frankenstein's castle in issue #101, so he shouldn't appear elsewhere in between.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showAbraham Klein, Fujiko Watanabe, Guardsman II (Michael O'Brien), Harry Key, Iron Man, Jarvis, Jasper Sitwell, Jonathan Rich, Madame Masque, Mandarin, Professor Goro Watanabe, Senator Andrew Hawk, Senator Byrd, Sunfire, Ultimo
Great recap! I have Iron Man #99 and just re-read it after 35 years, and your recap of #98 helps #99 make a lot more sense!
Posted by: Dave B | January 17, 2013 8:51 AM
It's interesting that in Iron Man 242, Tony tries to deactivate the Mandarin's rings using an EMP but finds that it doesn't work, since the Mandarin's rings work on principles foreign to earthly science. I'm wondering if that scene was written specifically in response to issue 100.
Posted by: Michael | June 3, 2013 11:11 PM
Tony looks like Charles Bronson at this point with that hair...its weird but it looks cooler than his perm circa Armor Wars.
Posted by: Ataru320 | May 13, 2014 10:55 AM
At about this time, there was a strange mention of Iron Man in DC's Super Friends #5 about a superhero-run telethon:
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 21, 2014 10:44 PM
I think that's Tony doing a Charles Bronsen impression.
Posted by: kveto | February 16, 2015 2:46 PM
Nice little Lord of the Rings reference from Stark. Wouldn't have thought Tony would know that in those days pre-films (even pre-Bakshi).
Interesting for the MU to have a black senator since there was only one in our universe at the time - Edward Brooke from Massachusetts.
Posted by: Erik Beck | March 30, 2015 12:12 PM
I was wondering what happened to the Mandarin after his weak death at the hands of the Yellow Claw. That is a way better costume, aside from the boots, and it should not have been retired ever.
Posted by: david banes | April 22, 2015 11:44 PM
I've not read these issues. The Mandarin story was apparently modelled on the Lee/Colan one in TALES OF SUSPENSE #84-#86. In both cases the Mandarin captures Iron Man with his teleporter when there's another guy in the armour, and the real Iron Man goes to the Mandarin's castle to rescue him.
Goodwin was the credited editor for these issues, but I think that refers to his position as Editor in Chief. My guess is Goodwin reviewed the issues as Editor in Chief and thought Mantlo's plot too unoriginal. But it could Shooter has mixed these issues up with some other case.
The original story had been reprinted a bit over three years earlier in MARVEL DOUBLE FEATURE.
Posted by: Lucian Blanchard | April 23, 2015 8:08 AM
Just wanted to clear up a slight misconception regarding #100: the original Mandarin did indeed die in #70. Loc Do stole the rings before destroying his body, and when he activated them, the Mandarin's transferred "mind-force" did not merely possess him but permanently took over his body, thus effectively "killing" Loc Do.
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | December 19, 2015 9:09 AM
Also, when Loc Do activated the rings and the Mandarin's mind was transferred into his body, Mandy used his Matter-Rearranger ring to change Loc's body into a duplicate of his original form.
Posted by: Gary Himes | May 14, 2017 10:58 PM
Interesting. That means at least 3 Marvel villains have definitively died and had their minds transferred into new bodies. The Red Skull died and came back in a clone of Steve Rogers, then again in a clone of his original body. Dr. Octopus came back in a clone of his original body, and is now in a body that is partly Peter Parker's DNA. Runners up: Dr. Doom, Galactus, and Loki have also died (caught between Terrax and Silver Surfer, tricked by Impossible Man, killed by the Void) and been resurrected (Beyonder, his own machines, and hey, he's the trickster god). Other villains have cheated death (like the Green Goblin), but only because they didn't "really" die.
Posted by: Andrew | May 15, 2017 7:16 AM
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