Iron Man #223-224
Issue(s): Iron Man #223, Iron Man #224
Rolexes and sexual innuendo - the life of a corporate playboy.
It turns out that the nice lady isn't really inviting Stark back to her bedroom; she's actually a hair stylist, and she thinks Stark's hair is a bit "yesterday".
Sadly, "today" is a frightening thing.
Let's hurry up and move on so we can get that covered up in Iron Man's helmet as soon as possible. Last issue we saw the minor villain Force working as an agent for Justin Hammer and thinking to himself that he had to get to Iron Man next. Well, it turns out he only wanted to get to Iron Man to turn himself in. Hammer has built lock-ups in Force's armor to prevent him from doing just that, but Tony Stark is able to override them...
...and we hear Force's story. He says that when he first started out, he was just a kid with a lust for power, and it was at that point that Hammer's organization approached him and offered to increase his power in return for him working for them. And he agreed. But over the years, he's realized how what he's been doing has been hurting regular people, and he's now ready to end it.
Stark wants to play things by the book and have Force turn himself in, but he does intend to provide legal support for Force. And this is a coup for Stark; i'm sure every super-hero would like to see villains turning themselves in rather than having to keep fighting them every twelve months. So it's understandable that Stark is willing to help Force despite his past crimes. And it's a good premise from Michelinie & Layton; something we haven't seen before.
Hammer of course has no intention of letting Force testify against him, so he sends three villains out to kill him: the Beetle, Blacklash, and a new Blizzard.
All three are tech villains that owe a debt to Hammer for upgrading their technology, but i'm a little disappointed that the Beetle doesn't even mention his new Synister Syndicate. Even if the other Syndicate members don't owe Hammer a debt (and so, presumably, he'd have to actually pay them), they'd probably have made a better showing than these three villains, who are weighed down by the newbie Blizzard...
...and by Blacklash who is happy to blame any failure on the newbie.
They do nonetheless manage to get into Force's cell while an armorless Tony Stark is visiting.
Stark and Force are rescued by Rhodey, who passes up another opportunity to get back into the Iron Man suit (especially understandable this time since only the red and silver version, which he's never used, is available) but does get access to a police ram tank.
Stark suspects an informant at the police department, and he exploits it to set up a rematch fight at an abandoned amusement park.
Force helps out...
...but sets off an EMP blast that, while it makes Blacklash's whip go limp, also disables Iron Man's armor.
Blacklash's whip may be electronically enhanced, but you have to figure he's good at hand to hand fighting, so it's pretty sad to see him lose to Rhodey.
Iron Man takes out the Beetle (or more like he takes himself out)...
...and the Blizzard goes down fighting Force.
The Beetle and Blacklash flee. We next see that Stark has gotten Force a job at a subsidiary.
You can see how quickly we've gotten back to the previous status quo for Iron Man. Michelinie & Layton's run introduced the new Stark Industries only a few issues ago, and already it has subsidiaries. But this was a fun story with some cool villain fights (and i am liking M.D. Bright's stocky artwork) and it's pretty unique to see a villain reform and retire to a civilian life.
Scott Lang/Ant-Man and his daughter Cassie are re-introduced to the series in issue #224, although he doesn't come into contact with anyone else in the cast yet. You can see that, like Tony Stark, he's been working out. It's a good thing Erwin Morley got killed; i'd hate to see how buff he would have become.
Quality Rating: B+
Chronological Placement Considerations: Tony Stark gets a haircut.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (5): showAnt-Man (Scott Lang), Beetle, Blizzard II, Force, Garrison Quint, Iron Man, Justin Hammer, Mrs. Arbogast, Rae LaCoste, Stature (Cassie Lang), War Machine, Whiplash (Blacklash)
Micheline and Layton have said that Rae LaCoste was supposed to be Cassie's mom. That makes the way that she was introduced kind of odd and one wonders if that was the idea from the beginning.
Posted by: Michael | April 13, 2014 5:37 PM
Good point on LaCoste; raised the Significance score to a 2.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 13, 2014 5:57 PM
this is where Rhodey starts beating up super-villains with his gun and training, pretty much shooting who ever he feels like (but not killing them). If super-villains can be taken out by a soldier with a gun, what the point of super-heroes? Why don't the cops just handle the villains?
Posted by: kveto from prague | April 13, 2014 6:25 PM
I have no problem with super-villains being taken out by ABNORMAL people like Rhodey- most soldiers aren't as skilled and capable as Rhodey. The problem is when goons that we've never seen before kill the Hobgoblin in two pages.
Posted by: Michael | April 13, 2014 6:41 PM
There's always the Punisher. He can kill super-villains with guns.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | April 13, 2014 6:55 PM
I like Whiplash but Rhodes is a bad ass so I think it's fair he beat 'lash, just wish he got a hit or two in.
Posted by: davidbanes | April 13, 2014 7:34 PM
Another thing to remember about Rhodey, is that since he wore the armor for an extended period of time, he's not exactly a civilian. He's like halfway between supporting character and back up superhero.
I never saw this issue as being a slight to the Beetle. Taking on Iron Man, even as a team, is a significant upgrade form the level he was at. There is a big difference of power level between Iron Man and Spider-Man.
Good use of Force who is a villain who would likely never be used given his scant two appearances in some fourteen years.
Posted by: Chris | April 13, 2014 10:18 PM
I think we can all agree with Rhodey -- that is, in fact, a chillin' doo.
Posted by: Robert | April 13, 2014 10:24 PM
The fact remains, though, Beetle defeats himself. And as we'll see, it all goes downhill for Beetle from here.
Posted by: Michael | April 13, 2014 10:34 PM
Rhodey's been a soldier, a mercenary (is that in-continuity yet? The Brendan Doyle connection?), a bodyguard for Stark, and, of course, Iron Man. As we see with Blizzard this issue, super-villains don't necessarily have as much training. Blacklash should be a pushover--though he was a scientist, not a goon at first, if I recall--but neither should Rhodey, who has fought him before as Iron Man, which an overconfident Blacklash wouldn't have known.
I hadn't heard that Rae was intended to be Cassie's mom, but I can kinda imagine that. She was also meant to adopt a certain super-villainess's identity, which we'll get to in a few issues.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 13, 2014 11:07 PM
Oops--I meant, "Blacklash should *not* be a pushover" despite his scientist background.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 13, 2014 11:59 PM
I wondered where that damn hairdo came in when I read Armor Wars. Seems to be most people's complaints with that story line, moreso than how Stark acted.
Posted by: david banes | April 14, 2014 4:01 AM
I was actually thinking about later when Rhodey takes out a fully powered Boomerang with his gun. Now we all know boomerang is goofy and a gun is better, but we have to assume that in the MU you'd only choose special boomerangs (or whips) if they were somehow superior to handguns.
I likes me some Rhodey and definitely feel he should be tougher than an unarmoured Tony. But you'd think Blacklash's training in hand weapons would do him a bit better here. I mean that's the guy's specialty.
Posted by: kveto from prague | April 14, 2014 10:47 AM
M.D. Bright's artwork is amazing! I don't know who the colourist is but they do a great job (no Glynis Wein but who is).
That new do. I don't believe that was ever fashionable. Ever!
Posted by: jsfan | April 14, 2014 11:40 AM
Regarding Rhodey, it's the same phenomenon we saw with Storm. It seems in the Marvel universe if you lose your "powers" you get Captain America level fighting abilities as your consolation prize. I would have preferred if Rhodey was fighting the Blizzard instead of Whiplash; Whiplash even without his electronic enhancements is still a weapon master that should be able to handle any regular person. But at the same time at least Rhodey's not taking on Ursa Major one-on-one.
It's also worth noting that Michelinie & Layton went to lengths to ensure that Rhodey wouldn't become an Iron Man again, but they're still writing him into the fight scenes. To Walter's question, i don't think they've yet revealed that Rhodey was a former mercenary, but i guess it's what they're leading up to.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 14, 2014 1:58 PM
That's what tvtropes called 'brought down to bad ass' even lists Storm there.
Whiplash also lost to a bad ass but normal person back during the Demon in the Bottle storyline. She did attack him when he was not paying attention and took him down fast. All in an evening dress too.
Posted by: david banes | April 14, 2014 3:10 PM
Wasn't Rhodey implied to have been a mercenary in Iron Man 156?
Posted by: Michael | April 14, 2014 4:47 PM
Yeah, added a scan of that panel from IM #156. He was basically a soldier according to that; i was hoping we'll eventually see something that justified his hand to hand or bo-stick fighting abilities. Silver Sable is shown training in every appearance; we haven't seen Rhodey fight like this before.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 14, 2014 5:21 PM
Rhodey does take out a couple of Stane's goons with a broom in IM #168. He's always been a badass, and after his time as IM, he should be that much tougher. I agree his weapon skills shouldn't be on par with Blacklash's, but Blacklash was probably overconfident because he thought this was just some buddy of Stark's, not a professional warrior who did a stint as a superhero.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | April 14, 2014 10:27 PM
Michelinie stated in Amazing Heroes #104 that the Ant-Man plot here was taken from a proposed mini-series that never got off the ground. He also mentioned a Nighthawk mini-series with Brett Breeding that would have made Kyle Richmond's nephew a new Nighthawk, but I don't know if that went anywhere.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | May 3, 2014 4:38 PM
Oh wow, isn't Armor Wars next? Neat seeing the issues just before it.
Posted by: david banes | May 3, 2014 6:58 PM
This was a sad time in comics when steroid abuse ran rapid. No wonder all the heroes ended up so violent a few years later. Thankfully, they got off the gas eventually, and now those days of over-muscled heroes are over.
Posted by: ChrisKafka | May 3, 2014 8:08 PM
* - As a kid, Blacklash's comment "This has never happened before! I swear!" went right past me. Today I find it hilarious.
* - Interesting to remember that it wasn't just more stylized pencilers like Romita Jr and Leifeld who would pump their characters full of muscles.
* - Good god is Tony's hair hideous.
* - Somewhere in this era there is an issue where Rhodey helps a kid and it turns out he has a really long, pointed pinkie-nail. He is then embarrassed at Tony spotting it and clips it. It was strange at the time, because the implication seemed to be that he was doing coke. Yet, I don't remember even seeing mention of it again. Fnord doesn't seem to have put it in the scans of any of the issues. It was just a really strange moment and then seemingly forgotten.
Posted by: Erik Beck | July 21, 2015 6:52 AM
@Erik - The pinkie nail scene you remember actually happens in these issues, though you're slightly misremembering - When Tony gets the above haircut, Rae suggests Rhodey should have a manicure at the same time. Rhodey says he's not the kind of guy to have a manicure, but changes his mind when Rae calls over a cute young girl to do it. As they are leaving, Rhodey catches a skateboarder & then decides to get rid of the embarrassing manicured nail. So in-story there is no reason to think Rhodey is doing coke.
IT's a shame the Rae being Madame Masque storyline didn't happen, it makes a lot more sense if Tony's awful hair was done by a supervillain.
Posted by: Jonathan, son of Kevin | November 19, 2017 4:28 PM
I'm thinking... Tony tried to get the hairstylist drunk, they both passed out in the boutique, and Rhodey did a frat-bro' number on Tony's hair while they were sleeping it off... XD
Posted by: Holt | November 20, 2017 7:17 AM
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