Iron Man #264-266
Issue(s): Iron Man #264, Iron Man #265, Iron Man #266
Iron Man, still paralyzed and stuck in his suit, has been hiding from the public. James Rhodes, with the aid of an image inducer, has been covering for Tony Stark.
Note Rhodey talking about his mother as if she were dead. We saw Rhodey's mom alive in Iron Man #173. I guess she could have passed away since then. But she'll be alive again in Dan Abnett's War Machine run. Turns out the revolving door of Death at Marvel doesn't just benefit main characters.
The image inducer isn't good enough to let Rhodey do public appearances, thanks to Rhodey's apparently giant hands.
Kearson DeWitt, the man responsible for Stark's paralysis, is upset. And also apparently super-strong.
Iron Man is forced out of hiding when unrest with Stark International's union turns into rioting, and Iron Man has to come out to
After letting him lay on the ground for a while, DeWitt forces Iron Man to fly around, causing damage. Rhodey is able to catch Iron Man in a helicopter. While he is doing that, Rhodey notices a Marrs helicopter nearby. Later, Stark realizes that the microchip that was installed in him to cure his paralysis was "too quick and easy" and is probably the cause of his current paralysis and takeovers. In recent lettercols it's been acknowledged that Tony's paralysis cure seemed like a cheat and that this story would address it. But it's a pretty superficial examination, more industrial intrigue than the "rich guy buys a cure" theme that i was hoping for.
Among a list of previous owners of the Cordco company that Tony bought for the chip, Rhodey notices the Marrs Corporation and tells Tony that he saw their helicopter earlier. Tony says that Desmond Marrs "never forgave me for beating his bid in the Centrex buyout". He then suits up...
...and flies to the Marrs building, despite the risk of another takeover. He leaves Rhodey behind looking at a line-up of spare Iron Man suits.
At the Marrs building, Stark finds DeWitt in a battle suit.
DeWitt starts tossing Iron Man around.
But luckily Rhodey shows up to help out.
When DeWitt is defeated he's unmasked and, in what is maybe a Steve Ditko Spider-Man homage, Stark has no idea who he is (despite DeWitt clearly having an agenda against Stark).
And that's it. A really dull ending that reveals nothing. Byrne was using the Marrs siblings from his Namor run but nothing comes of their appearances here. And it's cute that Stark doesn't recognize DeWitt, but there should have been something more to their encounter. And of course there's really nothing here that has anything to do with Armor War and very little to do with the microchip paralysis cure. It's been said that Marvel was obligated to deliver something called Armor Wars II, and Byrne complies with that but it's pretty clear that his heart wasn't into it. Byrne has also said that he signed up for Iron Man because he wanted to work with John Romita Jr.; maybe he just wanted to let JRJR loose on art and not clutter things up storywise. But in that case, the hint of corporate intrigue that doesn't actually go anywhere is more perplexing. It would have been easier to contrive a basic reason for DeWitt to hate Iron Man, and to not use the Marrs twins at all. Romita's art is nice, but he uses gigantic panels and lots of splash pages, and there is very little actual content in these three issues (and the entire Armor Wars II story). Despite his preferences, we actually have something more to look forward to when Romita leaves the title after these issues and Byrne works with Paul Ryan for the continuation of the Fin Fang Foom story.
Which, by the way, continues to build. Mandarin is trying out yet another new costume.
And he's also demanding that the Chinese government turn over control of the country to him, or else he'll unleash Foom again. The Chinese authorities decide that they need to reach out to Iron Man for help.
We also learn that the Mandarin's benefactor, Chen Hsu, is also a dragon.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 198,100. Single issue closest to filing date = 228,900.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: At the start of this arc, it's been five days since the end of issue #263 and Iron Man hasn't been seen since.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (1): showChen Hsu, Desmond Marrs, Felix Alvarez, Fin Fang Foom, Iron Man, Kearson DeWitt, Li Peng, Mandarin, Phoebe Marrs, War Machine
Ah, yes, Kearson DeWitt... this drove me crazy back in the day! For years afterwards I kept wondering who he was supposed to be and why he was hell-bent on obtaining vengeance on Tony Stark.
Eventually someone explained who DeWitt was, what he was supposed to represent. He was some anonymous guy who ended up having his life destroyed in one of Stark's corporate mergers or hostile takeovers, someone who Stark had no idea even existed. DeWitt was supposed to be the enemy that Stark could never have expected or planned for because he'd simply have no idea that one of the faceless masses whose lives had been affected by his business activities would become obsessed with revenge and achieve the ability to carry it out.
Looking back on Armor Wars II, that actually makes sense... if only John Byrne had bothered to explain this in a coherent manner. It did not help that in the next several issues that followed after this, Byrne kept recapping the events of Armor Wars II, with Stark repeatedly wracking his brains wondering "Who was he? What did I ever do to make him want revenge on me?" The way that Byrne kept reminding us that Stark had no idea who DeWitt was convinced me that some sort of shocking revelation was literally just around the corner.
And then when Byrne abruptly departed Iron Man right before Operation Galactic Storm, my first thought was literally "Damn it, he left without telling us who DeWitt was supposed to be!"
Of course, years later on his Byrne Robotics website Byrne finally gave an explanation...
"AS WAS STATED CLEALY IN THE STORY: DeWitt was a guy whose company had been destroyed by Stark International, without Tony even being aware of it.
"People who think there was anything "unfinished" there seem determined to turn DeWitt into something else (like when Kurt Busiek asked me if DeWitt was "really" Mr. Doll!!)"
If it was that simple, then why the heck did so many readers, myself included, think there was some dramatic unrevealed shocking twist left untold? Hell, even Kurt Busiek was left with that impression!
I realize now that Byrne really oversold the DeWitt mystery, and the result was that readers expected that there was more to it than there actually was. Byrne should have just had DeWitt come right out and tell Stark, "My entire life's work was destroyed because your company bought out my company, and you never even knew that I existed, never knew the harm you had caused me, and THAT is why I want revenge."
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 8, 2015 7:31 PM
Oh, yeah... I also thought that Byrne was building up to some sort of crossover between Iron Man and Namor the Sub-Mariner. After all, Desmond Marrs had financed the attack on Stark, and Marrs had also tricked Namor into believing that he was an honorable, upstanding guy.
So I really believed that when Stark launched his massive retaliatory hostile takeover of Marrs Corp that it was going to culminate in Byrne having Stark and Namor crossing swords, if not physically, then in the boardroom in some sort of financial duel, with Desmond tricking Namor into thinking that Stark was unjustifiably attacking him. But that never happened. And what DID happen left me baffled. I'll probably comment on it when fnord gets up to those issues of Namor's book.
Posted by: Ben Herman | September 8, 2015 7:39 PM
Ben, in Iron Man 269-270, Rhodey speculates that DeWitt might have been a guy whose company was destroyed by Tony Stark. The problem is that the way Byrne wrote that scene, it seemed like Rhodey was just throwing out guesses, not that Rhodey had deduced the villain's secret using his keen deductive skills. (We'll see the opposite problem in Fantastic Four 350, when Ben suggests that Doom has been a robot since before Reed and Sue were married, no one acts like it's a stupid theory and Simonson acted like readers were dumb to think that was what he intended.)
Posted by: Michael | September 8, 2015 9:50 PM
This is probably my favorite Mandarin outfit, it looks like it befits his dragonesque character. Good job, Romita Jr.
fnord, I think you mean Paul Ryan instead of Paul Smith taking over? Paul Smith on Iron Man would've been pretty sweet though.
Why did JRJr leave Iron Man if they were building to a big dragon blowout? That seems perfectly suited for his style. Maybe he was getting bored with Byrne's dozey storytelling? Both this infernal DeWitt story and the shenanigans in Namor are total snoozers. And I believe you mentioned in both that the stories are "slight", so Byrne's typical lack of backgrounds now begins to work itself more in his writing too. Burnout, trying to stretch plots for longer pay, I don't know what it was, but it doesn't feel like the same guy on FF. (She-Hulk also suffers from this, when he returns, really vacuous, repetitive storytelling constantly recapping the previous issue before adding new content)
I can't remember if all the dragons end up wearing underpants again in the coming issues. Looking forward to see those memories refreshed.
Rhodey doesn't look like he's particularly bigger-handed than Tony, does he?
The paralysis storyline was also pretty botched. Huge pity that Michelinie/Layton didn't continue, especially since they could've reunited with JRJr, who was arguably made big thanks to their original IM run.
Posted by: Peter | September 9, 2015 2:27 AM
Peter, yes, i meant Paul Ryan. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | September 9, 2015 7:52 AM
The bird on Mandarin's costume appears to be relieving itself.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | September 11, 2015 4:22 PM
I think that's supposed to be a dragon rising from the flames, not a bird.
Posted by: Michael | September 11, 2015 11:12 PM
Dragon or bird, it's taking a flaming pee pee.
Posted by: kveto | September 12, 2015 7:57 AM
Great art by Romita Jr. here, and the overall concept is interesting -- especially as it creates need complications for Stark's miracle cure for his paralysis. (Comic books often have an unfortunate habit of portraying heroes amazingly being "cured" from a disability without really exploring the nature of the disability or the perspective of a character being part of a disabled community.)
However, Byrne's execution of the overall story is somewhat weak at times. it feels that Byrne doesn't have anyone editorially asking thoughtful questions about whether scenes can be misinterpreted or can set up inaccurate expectations among readers.
When Lee started a dialogue with his readers in the 1960s Marvel Comics, you can tell that he was paying attention to how they read the stories, but after Lee leaves Marvel, that philosophy begins to slowly vanish. Shooter brings attention to it again, but more as a formula about how to structure stories to new readers, rather than engage them in a dialogue. Kirby often also directly talks to the reader in his 1970s work (both within the story, as well as editorially), indicating that he is aware of them and their insights in way that I think Byrne is not doing here at this time, but did do in his earlier Marvel work and will do again in some of his later work.
Posted by: Aaron Malchow | September 13, 2015 4:45 PM
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