Iron Man annual #11
Issue(s): Iron Man annual #11
The Terminus Factor
Title: "The devil's playground"
Len Kaminski - Assistant Editor
Machine Man is trying to repair Jocasta, and he's got a vat of titanium for that purpose.
But his shack (which doesn't look like it's in "the city") is attacked by a bear, or actually a robot bear.
The bear chews off his metal arm...
...so Machine Man realizes that it's after metal, and he goes into a stasis mode and ejects himself, holding onto Jocasta's head. Machine Man had been trying to get his friend, the psychologist Peter Spaulding, to leave the shack, but Spaulding kept hanging around. And so Spaulding is killed.
Meanwhile, Tony Stark is in Seattle, visiting Sunset Bain, the CEO of Baintronics, Inc..
Bain is also Madame Menace(!) so when her lackeys detect Machine Man's approach, she's called away. But Stark is suspicious, and goes to check out the projectile himself as Iron Man. He retrieves Machine Man and Jocasta and brings them to Bain to hold while he gets some stuff from his lab.
Madame Menace is actually a Machine Man villain, and she's thrilled to have him fall in her lap. So as soon as Iron Man leaves, she gets into costume and has Machine Man brought to a lab for duplication.
She manages to create one Machine Man duplicate, complete with a repaired arm, but then the robot-bear arrives (the bear's name is not named Fred).
Madame Menace calls Iron Man and demands that he hurry up and return. And when he gets to the factory, he sees why. Something in its eyes remind him of the battle in the Captain America issue, and also put the name "Terminus" in his head. Iron Man remembers that extreme cold stopped the people that ate the fish in the Cap issue, so Iron Man tries dumping liquid titanium on the bear. But that just causes it to grow.
Machine Man - the real one with the missing arm - wakes up and helps Iron Man out.
Somehow, it turns out that this phase two Termini is weak to extreme heat instead of extreme cold. That seems completely arbitrary, and no attempt at an explanation is given. But Iron Man and Machine Man are able to dump molten metal on the bear and stop it. It's then announced on television that hordes of animal shaped robots have been spotted to the northeast of the city, and Iron Man and Machine Man leave to try to stop them.
Madame Menace is left with the duplicate Machine Man and Jocasta's head.
Tom Morgan's art is a mess, and there's not much to recommend in the story, except that it's nice to see Machine Man again (although what a terrible and pointless death for Peter Spaulding!). I remember being two issues into this the first time i read it and going, "WTF does this have to do with TERMINUS!??".
This issue and all of the following ones have a space wasting filler story in the format of a TV report (it's by Evan Skolnick/Richard Howell/David Day). Minimal art with lots of white space. This one shows Iron Man and Machine Man fighting the robot animal horde.
Feels like a cheapo way to finish the story.
The next story feels like it ought to be more substantial. It focuses on a group of disabled people fighting for "Silverhound" buses to improve their handicapped access. And the story explicitly brings up the fact that Tony Stark bought his way out of paralysis.
So i thought this was going to be a story of Stark having to confront ordinary disabled people that couldn't afford the cure that he bought. But the rest of the story is just a rescue story when two of the protestors chain themselves to a bus that then goes out of control. The disabled protestors are shown being able to partially rescue themselves, with Iron Man doing the rest.
And then a feel good ending as Silverhound agrees to the protestor's demands.
Another story shows the Iron Man kid from Iron Man #178 being bored.
Another pointless story but it does have my favorite panel of the issue:
Man, i hated eating my broccoli too, but my parents never gave me a huge stalk of it and nothing else on a plate. Is it even cooked?
More filler at the end: five pages of typed correspondence between Tony Stark and Damage Control. It's kind of funny. But i think when you're paying a higher price for an annual, you should get a large story. Not a normal length story and then a bunch of flotsam and jetsam. Granted in this case, since the main story is bad, i'm the guy complaining that the food was terrible and the portions were too small.
One interesting thing out of the Damage Control letters. Anne Marie Hoag writes about the recently defeated Superhero Registration Act, and says that the Mutant Registration Act is still law.
But i included a lettercol response in the entry for Fantastic Four #335-336 saying that the Mutant Registration Act had been nullified. Seems Marvel didn't have a unified position on that.
Quality Rating: C-
Chronological Placement Considerations: A story from this issue showing Mrs. Arbogast getting hired takes place in the past and is covered in a separate entry. This is part two of The Terminus Factor. Thor annual #15 is next. A note says that this takes place before Iron Man #258.
Crossover: The Terminus Factor
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showGears Garvin, Iron Man, Jocasta, Machine Man, Madame Menace (Sunset Bain), Peter Spaulding, War Machine
Robot bear named Fred...for a moment I thought you were making a "Five Nights at Freddy's" joke.
Posted by: Ataru320 | July 8, 2015 3:14 PM
I liked seeing Machine man (even if IM calls him X-15 by mistake) and Madam Menace.
The news report and "Silverhound"stories were useless but I liked the Lil Iron Man story the best.
Posted by: kveto | July 8, 2015 4:37 PM
Poor Dr Spaulding! Wasted. I never knew.
Posted by: Cecil | July 8, 2015 7:41 PM
Uncanny X-Men 299 makes it clear that the Mutant Registration Act was still in effect but the government stopped enforcing it shortly before that story.
Posted by: Michael | July 8, 2015 10:25 PM
Oddly, this annual strongly hints that the duplicate Machine Man is the one featured in the second Machine Man series (published years previously but situated in 2020) who fought Iron Man 2020. Yet it basically hides that fact (no footnotes, argh). To this day few people noticed that.
For all its faults, Terminus Factor is a far more entertaining (and better told) story than X-Tinction Agenda. I will take this art over Jim Lee's any day, and the plot is at least coherent, clear and exciting - none of which can really be said of X-Tinction Agenda.
That said, calling Machine Man "X-15 is unexcusable, and killing Spaulding is very gratuitous.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | July 8, 2015 11:56 PM
Blast you, Gears Garvin!!
Posted by: Mortificator | July 9, 2015 11:05 AM
No love for Tom Morgan then? I've always been a fan of his work. Yeah, on occasion he could get a bit sloppy. But I thought that his art for this annual was great. I certainly agree with Luis Dantas, I will gladly take Tom Morgan over Jim Lee!
Morgan always seemed very well suited to work on Iron Man, at least in my opinion. After various fill-ins over the years, I was happy when he became the regular artist on the book in the mid-1990s. Okay, this wasn't a classic era for Iron Man by any means, but at least Morgan was smart enough to depart before "The Crossing" and Teen Tony.
I actually have a page of original art from one of his issues, featuring a sexy depiction of the Black Widow...
But, yes, everyone has different tastes, so I understand that fnord is not a fan of Tom Morgan. To each his own.
By the way, am I wrong or did Peter Spaulding later come back from the dead?
Posted by: Ben Herman | July 9, 2015 2:05 PM
According to the Marvel Chronology Project, Peter Spaulding appeared in the X-51 series. It's been a while since I read those issues and as I recall his death was mentioned but there was no reference as to how he was now alive. As far as I know, Spaulding's return from the dead has never been explained.
Posted by: Don Campbell | December 25, 2016 11:06 PM
Regarding Luis' point that this annual appears to imply that the 2020 Machine Man series features a duplicate Machine Man...
The 2020 series does feature Bain having got rich off Machine Man technology so this does set up the series, but was there any continuity reason why the series needed to be established as not featuring the real Machine Man?
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | November 18, 2017 2:35 PM
Need is too strong a word IMO, but I get the feeling that the duplicate, being in storage (from which he was released at the starting point of the miniseries) would be protected from any continuity issues that might develop for the original Machine Man in the following years.
And arguably they did develop, as later stories saddle him with Sentinel programming, a meeting with the Celestials (far as I know that was never properly resolved) and a decidely different personality and look in Nextwave.
From a slightly meta level, the Machine Man of 2020 recalled Sunset Main and Senator Brickman but apparently nothing more recent than that. Not even a generic line about how much else happened later, IIRC. Plenty enough has happened since with the original Machine Man to justify such a line, and I assume that Tom DeFalco expected as much back in 1984.
None of that is quite definitive - Aaron might be rebooted or something, I suppose - but having the duplicate and not the original be the protagonist of the limited series just feels more natural to me.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 19, 2017 6:53 AM
I find myself wondering why both Machine Man #16-17 (1980) and this annual had Aaron lose his left arm, though.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | November 19, 2017 7:06 AM
Haw! Tony Stark looks like a wicked Rick James with that Jheri-curl in the first story! How cool that he was keeping up with the '90s hairstyles! Wotta Super-freak he was, and still is!8D
Posted by: Holt | November 19, 2017 9:21 AM
@Luis - Thanks for the response, yes you are probably right. The 2020 series was fine if the Machine Man stopped appearing after his series was cancelled, but presumably as you say the Thomases anticipated the problem, perhaps they were intending to do something further with Machine Man themselves.
@Holt - Not sure if you've seen the debut of Tony's "chillin' doo" in Iron Man #223 but I thoroughly recommend you check it out. Disappointing that Downey Jr went with a different look when portraying Tony in the films.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | November 19, 2017 4:17 PM
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