Iron Man annual #9
Issue(s): Iron Man annual #9
We start with an introduction of Stratosfire, a new corporate super-hero working for Roxxon.
Not only is she powerful and popular, but she's rumored to be dating Huey Lewis, and her appearances and the public service (i.e. superhero) work that she's doing is resulting in good publicity and increased profits for Roxxon. It wouldn't be much of a story, but it would have been interesting to just leave things there. Stark has Iron Man; why wouldn't other corporations get their own sponsored super-heroes. But Stark assumes that if it's Roxxon, they must be up to no good (which, if Iron Man and other super-heroes believe that the company as a whole is evil, i wonder why they never try to formally investigate them)...
...and we learn that there is indeed a dark side to Stratosfire. She's used for dirty ops overseas, shutting down competitors' refineries and similar illegal operations.
Strastosfire's friend and roommate (who set off my "girlfriend but we're not allowed to say that" alarm) is worried about her behavior...
...so she goes to Tony Stark with info, and it winds up getting her killed. When Strastosfire finds out that Roxxon is responsible...
...she does a 180 degree turn and becomes a super-hero for social justice, shutting down nuclear power plants...
...and stopping a US space launch that is a front for setting up a Star Wars defense program. As a defender of the status quo, Iron Man is now forced to stop her...
...although he's conflicted about it, and he's joined by Sunturion, Roxxon's previous corporate super-hero that was thought dead.
Roxxon had a "zed control" that was supposed to destroy Strastosfire if she got out of hand. She disabled it, but Sunturion activates it manually, killing her...
...and seemingly cancelling out his own powers as well. As Arthur Dearborn, he remains an employee at Roxxon, but he asks Iron Man if Stratosfire actually had the right idea, and IM isn't sure.
I wouldn't have minded seeing Stratosfire surviving and maybe taking on a role as a quasi-villainous radical super-character, maybe like a more moderate Firebrand. Her desire to change the world would present an interesting moral challenge to the more status-quo defending super-heroes. But even without her living on, this was a good story.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place after Mrs. Arbogast returns in Iron Man #222. This also seems to take place after Tony Stark's new haircut in Iron Man #223, although the MCP have placed it prior to that. I'll also note that the MCP has a question mark next to Sunturion's appearance in this issue, notation i don't think i've ever seen before.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (3): showIron Man, Jonas Hale, Marcy Pearson, Mrs. Arbogast, Senator Boyton, Sunturion, War Machine
In the UK, this was reprinted in parts as the back-up story in Transformers.
Posted by: Stephen | April 13, 2014 4:48 PM
Yeah she looks really interesting and since Firebrand went into boring revenge villain territory she would have been nice.
But...gotta bury your implied gay people by the end of the story.
Here costume reminds me of another villain but I can't put my finger on it.
Posted by: david banes | April 13, 2014 4:58 PM
David her costume reminds me of Pyro's. Perhaps that's who you were thinking of.
Posted by: Robert | April 13, 2014 5:31 PM
yeah, its always a rough call. Stratosfire seems a good character in this appearance so we assume bringing her back she would stay consistant but its doubtful. probably better off that she dies here in her only appearance.
I wish Firebrand had never made an appearance after his debut, which was perfect. each subsequent appearance diminished the character.
Interesting how often Iron man's on what many would consider the wrong side as defender of the status quo.
Posted by: kveto from prague | April 13, 2014 6:20 PM
Pyro! Thanks, maybe the Mandroids too at the back of my brain
Posted by: davidbanes | April 13, 2014 7:36 PM
Review sums up my opinion exactly, including the "alarm". Given the details of the Sunturion suit's power, a resurrection of Stratosfire would have been easy for any writer who wanted to do it.
Posted by: Chris | April 13, 2014 10:24 PM
Shame they killed her. I agree, she could have made a really interesting quasi-super villain. She could have popped up from time to time as a bit of a for Iron-Man.
Posted by: JSfan | April 14, 2014 6:29 AM
I always liked Sunturion. Reading this annual in real time was a neat surprise and by the regular creative team, to boot. Arthur Dearborn would have made for a great supporting character on his own in the regular series.
I agree that Sandy was killed off too abruptly. She reminds me of Curt Swan's Supergirl in that first flying pose above. But making her gay AND a villain was bound to work against her favor. As a result, she became a one-shot character whose only purpose was to help reintroduce Sunturion as yet another reformed member of Iron Man's rogues' gallery.
Posted by: Clutch | April 15, 2014 4:48 PM
Amazing Heroes Preview #5 said that Michelinie & Layton actually plotted this back in the early 1980s, but dropped it after John Romita Jr. couldn't draw it in time.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 20, 2014 6:39 PM
ISTR that there's not a word in here about how Sunturion got better from being dead...
Posted by: BU | August 7, 2014 10:24 PM
It is discussed, BU. I mentioned it briefly in the References. But the longer version is that he had turned in energy, which "can neither be created nor destroyed. Therefore, I merely remained dissipated in the vicinity of Star Well's splashdown until Roxxon developed the technology to reintegrate me.
"They tried once before -- an ill-fated experiment involving a Sunturion 'suit' that was lost at sea [see Daredevil #224] -- but this time, they were quite a bit more successful!"
Posted by: fnord12 | August 8, 2014 8:10 AM
Costa Gavros, the place Roxxon sends Sandy, is probably a reference to European Filmaker Costa-Gavros.
Posted by: Alex F | August 21, 2014 3:07 PM
Man, I hate that "energy can neither be created nor destroyed" excuse. One of these days someone ought to write a story where somebody gets shot and says "Ha ha! I am made of matter, which can neither be created nor destroyed!"
Posted by: Andrew | January 31, 2015 6:14 AM
The Marvel Epic Collection volume this story is reprinted in, Iron Man Vol. 13 "Stark Wars," has this issue at the MCP placement of between issues 222 and 223 even though it CLEARLY takes place after Tony's new haircut. On the other hand, your placement is correct fnord. I've never seen both Marvel AND the MCP synch up on a wrong placement before.
Posted by: Jeff | June 21, 2015 10:32 PM
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