Iron Man #251-252
Issue(s): Iron Man #251, Iron Man #252
These issues are pretty straightforward "switch opponents" issues of Acts of Vengeance, featuring the Wrecker and Chemistro. The fact that both characters feel like they could be regular Iron Man foes, and that McDuffie uses a bit of continuity to tie in Chemistro to Tony Stark, helps make all of this feel a lot more natural.
Another nice element is McDuffie continuing to address some of my complaints from the Michelinie/Layton run. In Solo Avengers, he had Hawkeye mistrusting Iron Man because of his actions during Armor Wars, and it's also one of the few places that addresses the idea that there's supposed to be a different guy in the Iron Man suit. In these issues we get to the topic of Stark's cure for paralysis, which i've said makes Tony look selfish since he's not making that cure available to the mass market. In this issue McDuffie shows that Stark is indeed investing in prosthetics and other such devices, although this is a new development, something that only occurred to him to do after his own bout with paralysis.
The facility is run by Curtis Carr, the original Chemistro, who lost his foot in his debut appearance but is now using a prosthetic.
It is noted that some of the devices, like the floating wheelchair that Stark used circa Iron Man #245, is still too expensive for mass production.
Unfortunately, the Wrecker is planning to attack the facility. He's been hired by the Kingpin, and apparently wants the money to give to Thunderball to hire? bribe? him back onto the team so they can go and rescue the other two members of the Wrecking Crew.
Wrecker's attack destroys the Stark Prosthetics building, and Iron Man, Jim Rhodes, and Curtis Carr have to spend time getting the patients out. Then the fight can begin.
I would have never guessed Herb Trimpe was doing the art here. It looks kind of like Ron Wilson on a bad day, with huge bulky figures, but also with a comical, cartoony element.
During the fight we get a scene from the perspective inside the armor. There's supposed to be a readout across the panel, but it's printed like a stamp on the comic and it's very hard to read.
Iron Man gets trounced by the Wrecker, and has to be saved by a distraction staged by Rhodey. Curtis meanwhile runs to call his brother, the current Chemistro for help, but it turns out that's not a good idea.
(It seems in his panic, Curtis gets his own name mixed up with his brother's. It's right in the first panel above. But in the second, Curtis calls his brother "Curtis", and himself "Calvin".)
So Iron Man is left to defend himself, which he does by magnetizing the Wrecker's crowbar.
He's lucky that worked; i wouldn't be sure that the Asgardian magic that powers the crowbar could be affected that way.
But then with Iron Man still damaged from the Wrecker fight, Chemistro shows up.
Chemistro's gun has always made him sort of like the Molecule Man. He's about as dangerous, just a little more vulnerable since his power is thanks to an external device. But the Wizard has taken the gun technology and turned it into wrist-blasters, giving Chemistro more flexibility. I am kind of surprised that the Wizard didn't just take the technology for himself; maybe it's a "not invented here" philosophy.
Curtis tries to get Calvin (did i get that right?) to not attack Iron Man, but Calvin is having none of it, and he turns Iron Man's armor to lead and also tries to kill Rhodey for interfering.
Luckily, Iron Man's armor is actually pretty thin, so as lead Tony is able to push his way out of it and then reform it. Both he and Rhodey manage to get away from Chemistro.
Tony is then forced to use what his momma gave him to hitch a ride back to Stark headquarters.
Some time must pass after that, because not only is Tony able to put some clothes on but he's able to bring Curtis to Stark HQ, convince him that he's still going to fund the prosthetics work, and get him to build a device that nullifies Chemistro's powers (something that we've seen him do before in his Power Man & Iron Fist appearances; Curtis says that he can't replicate the original gun he invented but he can nullify its effects).
Then Chemistro shows up at Stark Enterprises. Again, he's a very powerful guy. It's a good thing Stark had the place evacuated.
The nullifier works, but only temporarily.
Iron Man is nearly killed when Chemistro changes the ground below him into water and then turns the water into steel.
But Iron Man manages to bust out and then exploits the fact that Chemistro's powers are just technology based.
Curtis lost his second foot during his brother's rampage, but he swears that he'll build himself a new one.
Like i said above, i really like the use of the original Chemistro. I like that he's not just been forgotten since Iron Fist said that he'd help him find a job at Stark. I also think these are a fun pair of villains for Iron Man to fight, and i like McDuffie's writing, both in the sense that he's addressing some problems with Iron Man's recent run and just more generally with the combination of humor, continuity, and good fight sequences. The issues are marred a bit by Herb Trimpe trying to be something that he's not, but it's a fun entry into Acts of Vengeance, much better than we had a right to expect considering we're between regular creative teams (although from what i see i wouldn't have minded if McDuffie landed here).
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: A montage in Avengers Spotlight #27 shows the Wrecker fight happening during the same time as that issue as well as a number of other attacks on the Avengers. The montage from that issue should probably be considered conceptual and not an accurate indication of the chronology, although i am trying to honor it as best as i can because it's the reason no active Avengers are available to help during the crisis in that story. The problem is that the montage also shows the West Coast Avengers fighting the U-Foes, and Iron Man is in that battle as well. Obviously he can't be in both places at once. So i'm assuming that at the end of this issue he goes directly to the West Coast compound. Issue #252 here does show Iron Man leaving to find the Avengers, albeit with the intention of asking the Avengers what's going on with these random attacks (so i'm assuming he doesn't have time to ask his questions because everyone is wrapped up in the question of the Scarlet Witch). Weirdly, the end blurb of issue #252 says "Acts of Vengeance concludes in Avengers #313 and West Coast Avengers #55". Well, sure, but did anyone think about Iron Man's chronology relating to the previous issues of West Coast Avengers?
Crossover: Acts of Vengeance
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showChemistro, Chemistro III, Iron Man, Mrs. Arbogast, War Machine, Wizard, Wrecker
Chemistro is far less powerful than the Molecule Man. The Molecule Man can transform objects, e.g. turn a car into a plane. Chemistro can only turn a car into stone, for example.
Posted by: Michael | March 26, 2015 8:41 PM
Going into this, I was reminded of IM and Wrecker's two panel fight in Secret wars #8.
Chemestro's power always felt too comicbooky to be taken seriously.
Posted by: kveto | March 28, 2015 3:20 PM
As to the name swap for a beat, well, I guess to some people all Chemistros look the same.
Posted by: david banes | March 29, 2015 1:14 AM
I've never been much of a fan of Herb Trimpe, but this is just awful. Tony's face in that second panel is hideous. And did he inject himself with owl DNA in order to turn his head around that much?
Posted by: Erik Beck | September 18, 2015 8:04 AM
The title of the first story is, a little surprisingly, taken from a dumb, semi-dirty joke: Johnny's brother was hit by a car. The next day at school, his teacher asked him where his brother was. Johnny: "He got hit in the ass by a car." Teacher: "You mean rectum." Johnny: "Wrecked him? Hell, damn near killed him!"
Posted by: Andrew | February 20, 2018 7:40 PM
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