Iron Man #284-286
Issue(s): Iron Man #284, Iron Man #285, Iron Man #286
We then go to a flashback showing the moments of Stark's "death" and then a montage showing various people reacting to it.
Then back to the present as Felix Alvarez shows up at Rhodey's place to give him a CD-ROM message from Stark. Rhodey goes to Stark's office to play the CD, and learns that Stark has left him the (not yet named) War Machine armor...
...and has also made him the CEO of Stark Enterprises.
Note that Stark says that this armor was designed specifically for Rhodey.
Rhodey becoming the head of SE angers Rhodey's girlfriend and Stark's PR executive Marcy Pearson, who had been upset since Stark first offered her his job when he got paralyzed and then changed his mind. She tells him that it's her or the job. Rhodey sleeps on it, dreams about all of Iron Man's villains coming out with Iron Man gone, and then calls Marcy to tell her that she's fired.
Issue #284 ends with confirmation that Stark isn't dead; he has been put in cryogenic storage, as has been hinted, and he's having flashbacks about his parents and other people from his past.
Issue #285 begins with Stark's funeral reception, which is plagued with problems. First, the media helicopters hover above the ash scattering ceremony, angering Rhodey. Then, Katy Dare, the woman who shot Stark, setting off the chain of events that resulted in his "death", shows up. She says that she's on Prozac now and is sorry for what she's done. Rhodey isn't forgiving. We also see Erica Sondheim and Abe Zimmer muttering to themselves about feeling like frauds for going through the charade of pretending that Stark is dead. Then, Spymaster, Blacklash, Beetle, and Blizzard attack.
It turns out the news choppers were a ploy by Spymaster to distract Stark security. Rhodey gets away and transforms into Iron Man.
Despite having different fighting moves than the villains are used to and being able to easily take out the rest of the villains, Iron Man is staggered by Spymaster's gimmicks, and his armor is disabled.
But Rhodey is apparently strong enough to work the suit manually.
Things are complicated by the arrival of what were probably meant to be the West Coast Avengers, but they include Wasp and Henry Pym, who were not current members. Which is fine; they'd certainly be characters that would have wanted to go to Iron Man's funeral (although they're apparently running late). They "know" that Tony Stark was Iron Man, so when they see all the destruction along with a guy in a new Iron Man suit, they assume he's an imposter.
Meanwhile, the bad guys recover, and instead of fleeing like sane bad guys, they join the fight.
Rhodey proves that he's a good guy by saving the Wasp.
Meanwhile, Kathy Dare kills herself with a big cartoon Blam!
Spymaster was in the process of getting knocked out by Iron Man. The rest of the villains stop fighting to gawk at Kathy. Pym shrinks them.
It's later said that Kathy wasn't depressed; she was pre-psychotic and shouldn't have been put on Prozac.
Stark continues to have flashbacks to his childhood while he's in cold storage. I assume everything we see can be written off as inaccurate dreams, so i won't cover anything in detail. Tony does come to the realization that his father Howard was also an alcoholic, though.
At the very end of issue #286, we see Tony's ne'er-do-well cousin Morgan scheming.
It's a good plot that shakes things up without cheating too much, since it's made clear to us that Stark is still alive.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: These issues begin with Tony Stark's death being announced on the news, but i'm also counting the characters appearing in the flashback. It's said that Tony Stark hadn't appeared in public "for some weeks" prior to his death, but that doesn't preclude appearances by Iron Man near this entry. Avengers West Coast #87-88 take place concurrently with these issues (note that Tigra and the Wasp are included in the scene in issue #284 here, but not in the one from AWC #87. Which isn't to say they couldn't have been standing off panel in AWC or that two similar scenes might have occured.). Obviously Iron Man or Tony Stark shouldn't appear anywhere until he returns after Iron Man #290 (with new remote controlled armor, and still bedridden).
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Iron Man: War Machine TPB
Inbound References (13): show
In this interaction between War Machine and the AWC, and I believe also later when he joins the team, nobody ever acknowledges the fact that he was actually a founding member of the group. I would have liked a, "hey, don't attack me! I was with you guys from the beginning!"
Posted by: Andrew F | April 26, 2016 7:34 PM
Why don't the Avengers assume it's Rhodey in the armor to start with? They know he was the alternate Iron Man.
Posted by: Michael | April 26, 2016 7:59 PM
They assumed he was an imposter, not Rhodes. So, why would they have that train of thought?
Posted by: clyde | April 26, 2016 8:46 PM
But that's my point- why did they assume it was an impostor and not Rhodey in the first place?
Posted by: Michael | April 26, 2016 9:52 PM
I think that exact point does come up in West Coast #89. Hawkeye says they all pretty much assume it's probably Rhodey.
Posted by: AF | April 27, 2016 4:02 AM
This is terrible writing from start to finish. What reader is going to believe that Tony is really dead? Why, as Michael says, would they automatically assume it's an imposter when several of them have worked with Rhodey before? Why would the villains suddenly be able to plan how to use Tony's fighting style against him when they've never done it before? Just a perfect coincidence to have it suddenly come up when it's not Tony? Why would they use such a ridiculous sound effect for a serious things like suicide?
Posted by: Erik Beck | May 10, 2016 7:38 AM
I have this issue, and I didn't remember Kathy pulling a Bud Dwyer.
Posted by: Vin the Comics Guy | February 14, 2017 1:17 AM
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