Iron Man #290-291
Issue(s): Iron Man #290, Iron Man #291
I mentioned last arc that the amount of time that Rhodey spent as president and a substitute Iron Man was pretty short. What's weirder is that there was a whole plotline going about Tony's evil cousin Morgan Stark, who was working with Marcy Pearson to frame Rhodey for Tony's death. And that plotline suddenly got cut. The bad guys that Morgan was working with - mainly an Osamu Moroboshi although he hasn't been named yet - instead decide to just wipe out Rhodey directly, in which case Morgan would supposedly gain control of the company and he could be easily controlled. So they send a group of "specialized agents" provided by their "patron" to attack Stark Enterprises.
A new Iron Man shows up to stop them.
This turns out to be Tony Stark controlling an empty suit remotely.
The fight allows the new suit's improved capabilities to be shown off. I've kind of stopped taking all of that too seriously, though, since after a few issues of comments about how powerful the new suit is, all of Iron Man's villains and challenges are upgraded accordingly and it basically becomes moot. Actually, even now Iron Man finds himself impressed with whoever built the droids that he's fighting.
Issue #290 - this book's second anniversary issue in 3 issues - also has some schematics of the new armor.
Rhodey was the target of this attack, so he winds up getting attacked at home in addition to what's going on at Stark Enterprises. He left his suit at Stark Enterprises, and he heads there. Stark's empty suit brings it the rest of the way before failing.
Rhodey manages to finish off the droids. And despite what we see on the cover of #291, they don't really fight side by side.
After the fight, Rhodey dumps the armor again, saying that he doesn't want to be Stark's "sidekick". Stark apologizes, but claims that if he had told Rhodey, some villain would have noticed that Rhodey was keeping a secret and attacked him for it. Sounds like BS to me, and Rhodey doesn't accept the apology. Stark also tells him to keep the suit, which he initially refuses. But he then changes his mind and we see him giving the West Coast Avengers a call.
Rhodes is still not actually called War Machine (although it's what the suit has been called). But he is called that on the cover of #291, and he'll next appear in Avengers West Coast with that name.
The very end of this arc shows Tony with the ability to move one of his hands again, a sign that his paralysis will eventually wear off.
I had a friend who we made fun of because he would only read Daredevil and Iron Man because they were "realistic" unlike the super-hero books that the rest of us liked, and it was this Iron Man arc in particular that he made the case with. I understand what he meant, but it's hard to think of a guy mentally controlling a suit of ultra powerful body armor as any more realistic than Spider-Man or whatever. I also think there's a lot less drama to it. Sure, Stark can still get hurt thanks to "neural feedback" or whatever, but it's a lot less visceral than him actually being in the fight. It does lead to unique circumstances so i can see why this temporary status would seem interesting for a while, and of course in the long run we should all have expected things to go back to "normal". Although it's worth noting that Tony Stark hasn't really been "normal" since he was shot some 50 issues ago. Since then, it's been spinal implants and neural nets to keep him going.
All that said, these issues are less interesting than the previous two. Len Kaminski gave us some unique motivations with Atom Smasher and Living Laser. Here we have a drawn out anonymous conspiracy for villains, with Iron Man and "War Machine" fighting mindless robots. On top of that, as we'll see more with the next arc, it really does feel like there's a sudden shift in direction regarding the Morgan Stark subplot. I'm curious if there was a deliberate shift in direction that also related to the seeming condensing of Rhodey's time as president. But the end goal does seem to be a separate Iron Man (War Machine) who can be a regular member of the West Coast Avengers, leaving Tony Stark free to appear in this book without having to coordinate schedules.
Statement of Ownership Total Paid Circulation: Average of Past 12 months = 156,017. Single issue closest to filing date = 150,900.
Quality Rating: C+
Chronological Placement Considerations: The scene of Iron Man fighting the droids will be repeated in Avengers West Coast #93 (and the Avengers participate in that fight in an incidental way, so in a sense they are behind the scenes here). War Machine joins up with team in the West Coast Avengers #94, which continues directly from #93 (and is all part of the same story). So i've got Avengers West Coast #93-95 following this directly. After this story, Tony Stark as Iron Man in the new armor can begin appearing elsewhere.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
Inbound References (4): showAbe Zimmer, Erica Sondheim, Iron Man, Osamu Moroboshi, War Machine
A suit of armour flying around by itself? So thats where the moronic idea for the Iron man 3 movie comes from.
Posted by: kveto | October 4, 2016 3:58 PM
But the end goal does seem to be a separate Iron Man (War Machine) who can be a regular member of the West Coast Avengers, leaving Tony Stark free to appear in this book without having to coordinate schedules.
All of which becomes moot, sadly, in about six months, when AVENGERS WEST COAST is cancelled and Iron Man takes the lead in FORCE WORKS.
Posted by: Austin Gorton | October 4, 2016 4:35 PM
Kaminski claimed the reason Tony had to fake his death was because if one of his enemies found out Tony was undergoing surgery to save his life they might launch an attack and innocents might be killed. This is ridiculous. Obviously it's idiotic to announce publicly "here's the address of the facility where Tony is being treated and here's the names of the doctors and scientists who are operating on him". But there's no reason they couldn't have made up a cover story to explain Tony's absence or even used an LMD to make Tony's public appearances. Especially since Kaminski makes it seem like a couple of days between the first board meeting following Tony's "death" and Tony's awakening.
Posted by: Michael | October 4, 2016 7:32 PM
Tony Stark remotely controlling his armor is very similar to the "Electro" stories in Marvel Mystery Comics.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | October 5, 2016 11:01 AM
@Mark, kveto- Tony remote-controlled his armor during Byrne's run.
Posted by: Michael | October 5, 2016 8:47 PM
I wonder if Kaminsky didn't intend to keep Rhodes as CEO for a longer time, developing the Marcy/Morgan plot, but had to switch tracks because the War Machine debut issues so impressed marketing (IM was briefly a hot book at this time of impending market collapse) that the suits made Kaminsky launch Rhodes into his own derious sooner than intended. The plots certainly do take a dive in quality here.
Posted by: Walter Lawson | October 7, 2016 10:15 PM
OK, I dug out Marvel Age 133. Supposedly what happened was this- the War Machine armor was only supposed to be a temporary armor for issues 281-283 (Rhodey was supposed to receive a blue-and-gold armor for the period Tony was "dead". But there was a lot of fan mail, so Nel Yomtov told Kaminski to make it the armor Rhodey wore when he replaced Stark. Then, there was more fan mail after issues 284-285, so Yomtov told Kaminski to let Rhodey keep the suit and Rhodey joined the Avengers West Coast. Then, Yomtov suggested a War Machine limited series to DeFalco and DeFalco decided to make it a monthly instead because Rhodey seemed to be hot. (And DeFalco turned out to be wrong, because that series was cancelled after 20 issues.) So Rhodey wasn't originally supposed to become War Machine after Tony came back or join the Avengers West Coast. But there's no word on whether or not Kaminski had to cut things short. (Probably the Marcy plot had to go in a different direction if Rhodey wasn't supposed to leave the book, since Rhodey was Marcy's ex.)
Posted by: Michael | October 8, 2016 4:47 PM
@Michael: Thanks for providing this behind-the-scenes info.
Posted by: Ben Herman | November 16, 2016 3:34 PM
It´s ironic that a guy who stopped manufacturing weapons is okay with a code-name like "War Machine".
Posted by: Jay Gallardo | November 23, 2016 6:28 PM
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