Iron Man #115-116
Issue(s): Iron Man #115, Iron Man #116
John Romita Jr., also a key component of this important run starts in issue #115 with a plot by Bill Mantlo. Iron Man spends most of the issue scanning the memories of the Unicorn, who is delivered by the Avengers at the start of this issue.
He's also doing some basic administration stuff, like checking on his LMD.
Later, Stark is attacked by the Ani-Men.
They turn out to be working for Count Nefaria and Madame Masque.
Count Nefaria, extremely aged and in a wheelchair, escaped from Avengers Mansion, during the fight with Arsenal.
Nefaria has won the loyalty of his daughter Whitney Frost/Madame Masque. As you can see from the above ending panel of issue #115 and the opening panel of #116, there's seemingly a change in tone regarding the depiction of Whitney.
In issue #116 she says that she's agreed to help her father in return for Tony not being hurt. Nefaria reneges on that promise.
Stark manages to get away and change into Iron Man.
The Spymaster also makes an assassination attempt on Tony this issue...
...but in all the confusion no one realizes that he is responsible for the explosion that ends the fight with the Ani-Men (killing them, we'll learn) and further injures Nefaria.
But that doesn't end things. Tony still has to fight his way past the LMD, which has gone crazy...
....and then when he makes it back to Whitney and tells her that Nefaria has to remain in Avengers custody...
...she sends the so-called Jupiter Landing Vehicle, previously seen in Captain Marvel #50, after him.
Nefaria is seemingly killed during Iron Man's battle with the device. This ends the Stark/Frost relationship.
Romita's art is good, but essentially in the house style at this point and not like his stylized later work.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Takes place soon after the end of #114; Iron Man says he hasn't seen Madame Masque since "yesterday". It seems like Iron Man went back to Stark International ahead of the other Avengers, who arrive at the start of this issue with the Unicorn. When Iron Man tells them to go back and search for Arsenal, the Beast complains that he hasn't had any sleep "tonight" and "we've already scanned the whole furshlugginer place twice".
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (8): show
The Spymaster first appeared in a very badly drawn Don Heck issue of Iron Man; #33, I think.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | July 17, 2011 8:52 PM
I just realized something: The X-Men, Daredevil, Iron Man...what do they all have in common?
They all fought the Ani-Men at the beginning of legendary runs in the 70s! Who'd thunk: animal-themed C-listers seem to be at the beginning of the legendary eras of several heroes within several years.
Posted by: Ataru320 | February 6, 2013 9:58 PM
I always wondered how Bill Mantlo would have finished this story
Posted by: Suzanne | March 5, 2013 4:51 PM
It's not clear why Nefaria is an old man in this story. In Avengers 166, it was explained that his aging was only temporary and then he would become immortal. Mantlo apparently only skimmed that story.
Posted by: Michael | June 20, 2013 10:45 PM
John Romita Jr.'s Marvel debut was actually the backup story in Amazing Spider-Man Annual #11. If you read it, you'll see why Marvel preferred to ignore it this time.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | June 21, 2013 4:57 PM
Death-Stalker, in Daredevil #158 or so, claims that Iron Man killed the original Ani-Men. Would that be a reference to the explosion Spymaster caused in these issues?
Posted by: Luis Dantas | January 27, 2015 2:43 AM
Thanks, Luis. I did have the Ani-Men appearing in DD #157 & 158 as separate characters with references back to these issues, but i've made a few clarifications to make it clearer and added their deaths to the historical significance rating here.
Posted by: fnord12 | January 28, 2015 7:55 AM
Yeah, it's interesting how early Perez and Byrne at least look the style they will have later. JR jr has a style that looks nothing like the overly muscular style he will develop by the end of the 80's. I would never have guessed it was the same artist.
Posted by: Erik Beck | April 9, 2015 11:32 AM
Luis Dantas and fnord12: I guess so, but having read issue 116, it doesn't really make it explicitly clear the Ani-Men were killed. The explosion happens, Iron Man escapes it, but it doesn't show the Ani-Men after that, and Iron Man doesn't bring it up.
Posted by: mikrolik | January 29, 2016 10:30 AM
Notice the continuity gaffe regarding the Eternity Man: in #114, he's shown to be one of the villains kept on ice in Avengers Mansion, along with Nefaria, yet in #115, when the Unicorn is brought from the Mansion to S.I., Jason Beere is already there in the "cryogenic chamber."
Posted by: Matthew Bradley | July 10, 2016 11:52 PM
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