Characters Appearing: Alexander Van Tilburg, Bethany Cabe, Clytemnestra Erwin, Iron Man, Senator Boyton, War Machine
Iron Man #208
Issue(s): Iron Man #208
Then he heads to Washington to talk to someone at the State Department (*).
This is somewhat unusual for Iron Man, who in the past has had no problem invading Caribbean nations when he didn't like their leaders. But i like it; it's a little more of a realistic and reasonable approach and AIM's actions are bigger than a super-villain attacking a bank. But their actions are also pretty significant from the perspective of the Marvel universe. Stark doesn't get the answers he likes from the State Department (*), but he has other possible channels to try, including the Avengers' government liaison Raymond Sikorski, or Nick Fury at the quasi-international SHIELD. In fact, i'd love to see the Avengers' (especially Captain America) and Nick Fury's reaction to AIM taking over a country regardless of whether Iron Man thought to involve them.
There's a school of thought that says it's not fair to ding a shared universe book for not fully utilizing the shared universe every time there's a crisis. For example, when the Sinister Six attack, the Spider-Man writer shouldn't have to explain to us why the Avengers aren't around to stop them. The Spider-Man writer should get to write a Spider-Man story without having to sort out blocking and tackling for every other Marvel character. I certainly understand that viewpoint although obviously my sympathies lie elsewhere or i wouldn't be running this website. But even accepting that, it was only two issues ago that we were reminded in this series that Iron Man is an Avenger, and Nick Fury and SHIELD have been a part of this book for a long time. So looking for their reactions doesn't seem out of bounds; it's not the same as asking Denny O'Neil to show us what Moon Knight thinks of all this.
And again, it's a pretty big event, and it's not a flash in the pain, either; as we'll see, AIM retains control of Boca Caliente after the end of this issue. And it's not like it was an internal revolution where the coup leaders are part of a group that the US doesn't like; these were an outside group of international terrorists last seen operating out of the US who have now taken over a foreign country.
Probably went into the weeds there a bit. Some other tangents before getting back on track. Note above that the State Department (*) guy mentions an incident "some years back" that sounds a lot like the Cuban missile crisis. Last issue i thought that the AIM takeover of Boca Caliente seemed a little like a "shoe's on the other foot" version of Grenada, but this issue it is more of a Cuba. And the central point of this issue is that "Cuba" never sent away all its nuclear missiles, and a disgruntled former president of the country sneaks in, knocks out the AIM guards (hey, they're scientists, not soldiers! But that's one heck of an active and capable president! I guess suggesting a still able-bodied Castro analogue), and launches the missiles at the US.
And the final tangent is the reason i keep putting the (*) symbol after State Department. The guy Tony is talking to seems to be part of the State Department (i mean, someone who knows Washington's layout may be able to better say if that's meant to be the State Department building or one of the Senate office buildings that circle the Capital Building, but "Unusual problem you've brought the State department" is an unusual way for someone not in the State department to phrase things)...
...but later Tony will refer to him as a Senator (and in issue #216 he's named Senator Boyton).
Ok, getting back on track now, but in a roundabout way. Last issue we saw Bethany Cabe show up at her husband's apartment. This issue has her engaging in some heavy expositional dialogue with him.
Or rather, monologue. Note that Alexander seems to be trying to speak in the bottom left panel, but he's unable to get a word in edgewise under the weight of Bethany's heavy balloons. Bethany then meets up with a friend, Ludwig, and asks for the name of a good divorce lawyer, but he instead tips her off about the former president of Boca Caliente.
Ludwig is then shot dead by someone over a completely unrelated personal matter.
Note that Ludwig is a dwarf but other than getting called a "little runt" twice and a "poor little devil", his dwarfism is played without comment.
Tony gets a call from Bethany about the nuclear missile threat, but the State Department Senator still won't let Iron Man do anything about it.
The conundrum is an interesting one, and to get a little political for a second, having lived through a world where the US launched a pre-emptive war against a country due to flimsy and incorrect information about chemical and biological weapons, it's a bit refreshing to see Boyton holding this line, even if it's unrealistic. And note that even though Iron Man feels stymied by the bureaucracy, he agrees with Boyton in spirit as well.
And he even obeys the letter of Boyton's directive. He flies to Boca Caliente but remains in chameleon mode and does not actually touch down on Boca Caliente soil ("I'm not touching you!"). And soon the missiles are launched and Iron Man is able to act.
He finds the missiles to be more technologically advanced than he expected. He describes their programmer as a "genius" and the missiles possibly operating "on principles completely unfamiliar to me".
Considering that the missiles were meant to be in the country before the AIM takeover, this is intriguing.
Iron Man is nonetheless able to bring the missiles down without causing them to detonate. However, AIM remains in control of Boca Caliente.
Last issue we saw Cly Erwin considering leaving Stark's new company, but this issue she decides to stay after all.
Was there a massive letter writing campaign between issues?
On the letters pages for West Coast Avengers #10, Avenger #269, and this issue, Mark Gruenwald has mini-columns describing the history and usage of the No-Prize to date. It ends with Gruenwald saying that the No-Prize has resulted in people writing in to point out nitpicky errors instead of substantial criticism. So he has decided to end the practice. But before doing so, he awards a no-prize to everyone who wants one, ever wanted one, or will ever want one. Which i was glad to see, because i've always wanted one even though i've never tried writing in for one. So i'm glad to see that i've had one all along. Here's mine.
If nothing else, this issue certainly gave me a lot of grist for bloviating!
Quality Rating: B
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Maybe Ludwig owed that person money because he refused to help find the Jam Spoon or the Sugar Bowl?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 21, 2013 9:07 PM
I liked Cly Erwin, and was sorry to see Michelenie and Layton jettison her when they came back. She was a cute nerd, and I like those. One reason I liked Heather Hudson too. Cly was a good character for the book which lacked female cast which weren't love interests.
The scene with Alex Van Tilberg just shows how badly Bethany Cabe was jettisoned from the book originally. She was extremely popular and seemed destined for an important place in I.M.'s supporting cast, but it all came apart so quickly. I wonder why that was the case. Was the staff afraid if Cabe stayed that it would just be another case of needing to kill the girlfriend lest a serious relationship ruin a major source of drama for the lead?
Don't want to divert the comics with politics, but even without WMD the invasion of Iraq had an overdose of legitimate casus belli, all of which were mentioned in the resolution authorizing the use of force, and all of which were compounded by ongoing resolutions going back to Saddam's original non-compliance to the ceasefire agreements of the first Gulf War a decade earlier. If anything, the war was over determined. Reliance on the WMD issue was a PR disaster, but even if Bush, Powell, and Blair never mentioned it, the war was easily justifiable. The idea it came out of nowhere is simply false. Arguments about the wisdom of going to war, or the conduct of the war are entirely different. No doubt others disagree and will pile the comments box as such, but rather than escalate the issue by responding, I'll leave this as my only comment!
Posted by: Chris | December 21, 2013 11:29 PM
Chris, since i'm the one who brought up the political angle, just wanted to say i appreciate your civility even when we disagree.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 22, 2013 12:09 AM
The idea of introducing the politics plot in the issue was good. The handling, however, leaves a lot to be desired.
Tony Stark ends up being shown as both naive _and_ hypocritical.
Super-Villain Team-Up handled a similar situation far better some twelve years earlier.
Posted by: Luis Dantas | December 22, 2013 4:49 PM
So Bethany goes to a friend for a divorce lawyer, he starts talking about an unrealated issue, and then gets killed over ANOTHER unrelated issue? That's a bit random...
Posted by: Berend | March 9, 2014 9:46 PM
"In fact, i'd love to see the Avengers' (especially Captain America) and Nick Fury's reaction to AIM taking over a country regardless of whether Iron Man thought to involve them."
Someone got their wish...
Posted by: Jon Dubya | July 19, 2014 3:45 PM
Did Denny O'Neil sneak a War Games reference into this story with that AIM holdup scene?
TURN YOUR KEY SIR!
Posted by: Red Comet | September 27, 2015 10:04 PM
Comments are now closed.
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