Iron Man #267-268
Issue(s): Iron Man #267, Iron Man #268
Or is it the Mole Man?
The idea is that if Iron Man can't handle a loser like Vibro, he must not be in good shape.
Iron Man eventually figures out that he has a gadget that can quickly disable Vibro.
But he's chastised by the police for not thinking to use that sooner.
Stark also feels like his mind is occasionally being "touched", which relates to the Mandarin and Chen Hsu talking about him.
The first "touch" prompts Iron Man to begin thinking about his origin. The first revision that we see is that the location of the origin has been changed to an undefined country in Southeast Asia.
I always say "Welcome to Eastern North America!" when people come to visit me in New Jersey.
The more important revision is that the Mandarin was behind Wong Chu, the local warlord that captured Stark and was forcing him to build weapons.
Since the Mandarin is now involved, care must be taken to ensure that he doesn't learn Iron Man's secret ID. That's difficult since Tony Stark is captured and then Iron Man comes out, but Byrne contrives a way.
That is helped by the fact that the original story had Iron Man showing up in a trenchcoat.
The original story made it seem like Iron Man killed Wong Chu in an explosion. But we see here that Wong Chu escaped only to be killed by the Mandarin.
Mandarin also had an opportunity to kill Iron Man, but he chose not to take it, for reasons he still doesn't understand.
Retroactively inserting a hero's archvillain into his origin story is, in my opinion, the worst sort of cheesy comic book-ish indulgence, and these issues don't have much merit beyond that. I do think it's funny that having a little trouble fighting Vibro is the sign that Iron Man is in bad shape. And Paul Ryan's straightforward art is a nice change of pace after the John Romita Jr. issues.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: The implication is that Iron Man is not in top shape after the events of the previous arc. I do have Iron Man appearing in a number of other books between this arc and last, but there's nothing saying that he couldn't have been operating at less than full capacity in those issues or he's having a relapse. Iron Man ends these issues feeling utterly depressed ("Iron Man is finished. Tony Stark is finished. Everything is finished."), but, again, that doesn't mean he couldn't drag himself out of his funk if necessary. He also thinks to himself that he's determined to avenge himself against the Marrs twins for their scheming against him, with a reference to "current issues of Namor".
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (2): showChen Hsu, Fin Fang Foom, Iron Man, Mandarin, Vibro
This issue was definitely a necessary retcon at the time to get rid of the Vietnam references in Tony's origin.
Posted by: Michael | September 23, 2015 9:36 PM
This doesn't look like Ryan's typical art.
Posted by: Bob | September 23, 2015 11:58 PM
It's odd that Byrne gets irked whenever normal or semi-normal characters wind up with exceptional attributes--like Kitty being a genius, not just a teen who happens to have powers--yet he can't let Wong Chu just be a warlord or Igor just be a Russian spy in the Hulk's origin, we have to get extraneous super-characters like the Mandarin and the Skrulls thrown in.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | September 26, 2015 4:14 AM
Excellent 2-parter. I like how Byrne adds detail (apart from the Mandarin's involvement) to the origin, like who certain things are said and done. It's also clever how Byrne alters the dialogue during the recap in #288, implying that Stark can't remember the exact things that were said and done, for it being a lifetime ago. Nice realistic touch. Stark's inner thoughts were interesting and it ended nicely with a dejected Stark, proclaiming he was finished as both Stark and Iron Man. Mandarin was worked in well, but I'd rather it never happened, I'm not a fan of retcons. I'd give this issues a solid B. Nice art from Ryan too. Clear and crisp.
Posted by: Sparky Ryan | November 24, 2015 5:10 PM
Wong-Chu was later revealed to have survived during the Sons of Yinsen storyline, where he was beheaded by one of the Sons at the end of it. That story seems to have ignored the part where the Mandarin turned him into a bug and stepped on him.
Posted by: Andrew Burke | October 13, 2017 9:12 AM
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