Iron Man #27
Issue(s): Iron Man #27
The story introduces a new "villain", Firebrand, who is actually a radical activist/revolutionary. Unlike past "Commie" villains, he's not just a cynical generic bad guy; he really believes his rhetoric, and he's presented just sympathetically enough that we might at least understand where he's coming from.
He's a good foil for Iron Man, especially if you buy into the idea of him as a defender of capitalism.
Firebrand starts the story helping a group of less radical protestors who want to occupy a space in their community reserved for a new community center, to be built by the Iron Man foundation.
Eddie "Iron Man" March has reluctantly agreed to run the center; he's concerned that the job is just charity for him after his previous job as a replacement Iron Man got him badly injured, but he initially sees value in the project.
The other members of the community would prefer that the space and money for the center instead be devoted to developing local businesses, and they manage to convince Eddie.
It does turn out that the city councilor running this project stands to profit personally from the development.
Luckily since the money is coming from Stark, he's able to support March and the protestors.
When i read this, i already knew that Firebrand was white, and since he was working with black protestors, i was afraid we were going to end with one of those stories where Iron Man pulls off Firebrand's mask and reveals that the guy stirring up all the trouble was an outsider. But Goodwin doesn't go that route at all.
I know that the "relevant" era of comics is often mocked but this was a great introduction to a character with a lot of potential. In this particular instance, Iron Man and Firebrand actually could have found common ground if Firebrand wasn't so quick to instigate a fight.
But more generally, you could imagine scenarios where Firebrand's motives would be legitimately at odds with Stark Industries, and that could have made for some interesting stories. Unfortunately, Firebrand is not really used to his fullest in later issues, but you can see from this story how a more political theme on the book might have been beneficial (i mean, my god, compare this issue to the last one).
Quality Rating: B-
Chronological Placement Considerations: N/A
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showEddie March, Firebrand, Iron Man 1970 / Box 5 / Silver Age
1970 / Box 5 / Silver Age
I've already mentioned how much I love this story. It's politically interesting without being preachy and Firebrand is one of my favourite villains based on this appearance alone. Perfectly named, he's a great psychological foil for industrialist Tony Stark. In fact I wish Firebrand had never come back after this as later writers were unable to use him effectively. (or have Goodwin write his return)
Interestingly, I read this before I found out Firebrand was white. It seems pretty clear to me Goodwin intended him to be black (see his "black power" fist on his chest).
Also, this is a very intelligent, thoughtful Tony Stark. His last line laments that the problem is that "Firebrand" had to come into being at all.
Posted by: Kveto from Prague | February 10, 2013 2:11 PM
Ah, Firebrand. Now mocked as a "terrorist" by Sneering Capitalist Tony (the same jerkwater who was like "Why was the Melter robbing banks when he could have just sold his technology?" Uh, because he liked having control over his life rather than just being a plantation slave, perhaps?), and eventtually murdered by him.
Oh, okay, Tony didn't actually fund the Scourge; that's just my retcon. But it would be entirely in character for him to do so, IMO.
A brilliant introduction to an ultimately misused character. Iron Man post-Goodwin may be the single-most dramatic fall in quality following a creative change of this era. Nowhere did Conway seem more out of his depth than on this book, IMO.
Posted by: Dan Spector | August 1, 2014 5:02 AM
Yeah Firebrand had a great start before becoming 'i'm a bad guy!'
Posted by: david banes | December 23, 2015 5:40 PM
"Firebrand" makes for an interesting 3rd party candidate in 2016 run for the White House
Posted by: rocknrollguitarplayer | April 1, 2016 12:10 AM
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