Iron Man #48
Issue(s): Iron Man #48
The issue starts with Tony deciding to turn over a new leaf, and starts by exercising his majority share of stock in the company and firing Gilbert and the rest of the board, something that apparently he could have done at any time.
Gilbert then hires Firebrand to get back at Stark.
And with that, Firebrand starts filling in details about his childhood...
...and we start to get hints about the upcoming revelation.
Meanwhile, the stress of taking on the board (and a subsequent drop in stock prices) has driven Tony Stark to drink...
Luckily, he's let off with a warning. Wealth has its privileges.
Marianne tries to get Stark to open up after that, sensing that he's still broken up over the death of Kevin O'Brien. But Stark gets a call on his carphone that Firebrand is tearing up his factory, so he has to leave.
Firebrand is not really your witty repertoire type of character, but he gives it a try.
Firebrand's heat causes some weapon malfunctions, but Iron Man is still able to defeat him pretty easily. Simon Gilbert drops another clue for us while trying to blow up Iron Man himself.
Instead, Gilbert winds up blowing himself up, and Iron Man prevents Firebrand from seemingly uncharacteristically trying to save him.
And the reason why is that Gilbert really was Firebrand's father.
I guess this explains why Firebrand, who started off as an interesting radical contrast to the capitalist Tony Stark, becomes much more of a generic villain in his later appearances. His motive got personal after this. It's not really the fault of this story but that change in Firebrand is for the worse.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: At the start of this issue, Iron Man says that he's been floundering "for months". Not sure if that really means it's been months since last issue, but it works out that way anyway since the MCP places this between Avengers #100-101. I should also note that a narration caption says that Iron Man settled things with the police after the death of the Guardsman and his actions at the funeral last issue. "A couple of days" pass during the course of this issue.
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: Marvel Masterworks: Invincible Iron Man vol. 8
It's not just Tony's wealth- DUIs generally weren't treated very seriously in the 1970s. A decade later, a hero driving drunk with his girlfriend in the car would have been treated much more harshly.
Posted by: Michael | December 21, 2014 4:50 PM
I've often said Firebrand is one of my favourite villains but that is solely based on his first Archie Goodwin appearance. When brought back, he just didn't have the magic from that first appearance. Also, i didn't like them making him white, when he was clearly intended to be black (he's got a black-power fist on his costume even)
Posted by: kveto | December 22, 2014 6:24 PM
The "power to the people" fist (as the Panthers called it) was used cross-culturally, and afaik predates the "Black Power" movement - its lineage is in the Communist and anarchist workers movement. (Possibly particular to the US)
Posted by: cullen | December 22, 2014 10:19 PM
Sorry, this link is way better: http://www.docspopuli.org/articles/Fist.html
Posted by: cullen | December 22, 2014 10:30 PM
So what? I don't know what you are trying to say here, cullen. At that time, in 1970 it was most commonly associated with the black power movement and in his first story, Firebrand was representing black community interests. Its clear his creator intended him to be black. That's my only point, no interest in the history of it.
Would you like me to include a link about how a Nazi salute originated with the Romans?:-)
Posted by: kveto | December 23, 2014 7:22 AM
My point is that even at the time (and I have lots of contemporary sources, I'm a big student of the era), the fist was used cross-culturally, and the fist therefore doesn't indicate an intended race. Its reduction to a symbol of "Black power" is a historical/media distortion and I was addressing that.
Posted by: cullen | December 23, 2014 8:25 AM
John Sinclair's White Panther Party(well, the people on his commune anyway) weren't above using the fist either, so there's precedent for cross-cultural use.
Posted by: Mark Drummond | December 24, 2014 8:08 PM
funny thing is, when i made my original comment, I had a feeling some smarty pants :-) would try to "educate" me on the true meaning of the symbol and I originally thought about putting on a pre-emptive defensive comment that i of course knew that. Turns out I guess I should have put that comment.
It's annoying that on this site that that is necessary. It was just a minor bit of info that helped me beieve Goodwin intended Firebrand to be black. The other info i noted i consider more compeling.
Posted by: kveto | December 25, 2014 7:00 AM
Kveto, for what it's worth, i think your original point makes sense, and i agree that the fist on his costume is a supporting factor.
At least Firebrand never actually claimed to be black and then revealed otherwise, or we'd have to add him to the Sons of the Serpent/Diamondhead/etc. category. ;-)
Posted by: fnord12 | December 26, 2014 10:17 AM
Thanks, fnord. I read Firebrand's original appearance before I found out his race in much later stories. It doesn't take away from Goodwin's great story in IM #27 but as you say, it lessens his appearance there by heading for that overused sons of the serpent false flag/race trope.
Posted by: kveto | December 29, 2014 4:04 PM
Yeah I noticed the character decay with jus his second appearance. Firebrand started off so interesting!
Posted by: david banes | December 29, 2014 9:49 PM
More pitfalls of the Marvel style of scripting are evident in this one. The artist clearly intended for Tony Stark to be getting a ticket in the above scan but the writer went and completely subverted what was being conveyed in the art.
Posted by: JP | April 27, 2015 3:22 AM
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