Iron Man annual #14
Issue(s): Iron Man annual #14
That is messed up. I don't even know what i'm looking at. Weird looking thing. My eyes just like slide right off of it.
I also love that once it's possessed the guy that he's killed, he's just a total jack ass. This is at the funeral for the guy in green.
And here he his with his (host body's) daughter.
This... thing is our new character for this annual: Face Thief.
Ok, so the woman there is Meredith McCall, an old girlfriend of Tony Stark's from when they were seventeen. We met her in Iron Man #28. The guy who got killed and replaced by Face Thief is her father, who was a business rival of Tony Stark's father. In a flashback in the original story, neither father liked their kids getting together, so they conspired to separate them. When they "met" again in issue #28, Meredith was under the thrall of the Controller, and after dealing with the Controller, Tony got the hell out of there as fast as he could when he found out that she was married. Her husband was the guy in green.
But Iron Man's involvement in this story doesn't begin from the fact that he knew the McCalls. He gets involved thanks to the cyber-samurais from Iron Man #281-283, the Masters of Silence, who at the time just seemed to be honorable mercenaries. But now it turns out that they are an quasi-immortal trio dedicated to
Ah, why not? And instead of just going after the Face Thief, they go to Tony Stark for help.
Tony is currently paralyzed, but he sends an LMD to the funeral. He's accosted by reporters and proves that he's still an arrogant SOB.
Meredith tells him that she thinks something's wrong with her father.
Later, as Iron Man, he and the Masters of Silence fight their way through defenses set up by the Face Thief and confront it just as Meredith has discovered the truth.
They tell Meredith to stay out of it...
...but she finds that sexist, so she gets into the uniform of one of the Thief's guards (and it's a perfect fit!).
During the fight, one of the Masters, Kaze, is badly injured.
Also during the fight, Face Thief changes form. This one's a bit cartoony and not as mind-blowing. But also strangely familiar? I feel like i've seen this thing before, but can't remember where.
Meredith proves her bravery during the fight.
The Face Thief gets boring during the fight itself, reverting to generic evil demon villain speak.
Where's the dude that was chomping on a cigar at the funeral wondering what was for lunch?
But then it makes up for it. Overwhelmed, the Face Thief escapes by tearing off its own face.
Kaze is still alive, but that's only because he can't die unless someone else replaces him. Meredith volunteers.
One of the back-up stories has the other two Masters of Silence explaining their history to Meredith. The Face Thief is a demon that crossed from its dimension (the Shinma) into feudal Japan where he took over a group of samurai and led them in a futile rebellion against the emperor. All but three samurai were killed, and those three learned what the Face Thief was and prayed to "the Three Storms", Lightning, Wind, and Thunder, which infused each of them with their power. I guess they can fight other Shinma, and they talk about fighting evil in general, and in between they fill their time as mercenaries, assassinating those who "deserve" it. So they have a lot to do. Which is good, because the Face Thief will never appear again but the Masters of Silence will, Meredith moreso than the other two. So really Meredith, as the new Kaze, is our "new" character for this annual.
Also in this issue is a back-up featuring War Machine and Hawkeye.
They deal with environmental terrorists who, it turns out, are trying to stop NASA from launching a satellite powered by plutonium, with the fear that the satellite will blow up the way the Challenger shuttle did and spread radioactive material all over the Earth. Hawkeye is completely uninterested in their hippie-dippie concerns, but War Machine kind of agrees with their goals, if not their methods, and it causes him to doubt what he's been doing as a super-hero.
We're told to watch for War Machine "making a difference" in his own upcoming book.
I don't know. I don't want to stand in the way of anyone's social awakening, but at this point the idea that super-heroes don't do enough to solve real world problems is kind of a cliche (going back to the classic 1970s Green Lantern/Green Arrow story). Hawkeye is absolutely right. Ok, you haven't stopped crime or evil corporations, but you've stopped super-powered criminals that no one else could, and you've literally saved the world on multiple occasions. In the context of the Marvel universe, that's legitimate tangible goodness that you've contributed. I mean, don't let me stop you from going into politics or becoming an activist if that's how you prefer to prioritize, but don't act like being a super-hero is a waste of time.
Bringing in real world problems is always a fourth wall breaker for me, too. In the Marvel universe, people jump into spaceships and fly into the cosmos all day long. A satellite blowing up on launch seems like it should be an archaic concern. I'll bet that Rhodey has helped Stark Industries install hundreds of plutonium-powered satellites without a second thought. If it isn't the case that Stark has already invented a totally safe non-radioactive way to power satellites.
I'm going overboard on a very slight story, so i'll end here. This is a 10 pager, full of gigantic awful "splash" panels.
Quality Rating: C
Chronological Placement Considerations: This takes place while Tony is still paralyzed and using the remote Iron Man suit. The MCP place this between Iron Man #297-298, but i don't think there's enough time between those issues for this story to take place, so i am placing it in the same gap as Iron Man's Infinity Crusade appearances, during Iron Man #295 (before the end scene setting up the story for Iron Man #296-297). The MCP place the War Machine/Hawkeye back-up between Avengers West Coast #97-98. Marvel Comics Presents #137-142 has a Ghost Rider story featuring the Masters of Silence that takes place after this.
Crossover: 1993 Annuals
Continuity Insert? N
My Reprint: N/A
The Face Thief's second form reminds me of the big Shambler monsters from the old video game Quake.
Posted by: Omar Karindu | February 24, 2017 3:56 PM
It reminds me of the Elder Things from H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness".
Posted by: Luis Dantas | February 24, 2017 6:22 PM
I really thought i would find it in the Lovecraftian issues of Dr. Strange illustrated by Sam Kweskin. Elder God-ish but goofy at the same time. But it's not there.
Posted by: fnord12 | February 24, 2017 6:30 PM
Meredith McCall appears after this as a Master (Mistress?) of Silence in a Ghost Rider story in Marvel Comics Presents. But when she reappears in Iron Man after the Crossing, not only is she no longer a Master of Silence but she has a different husband than the one killed in this story.
Posted by: Michael | February 24, 2017 7:40 PM
I imagine that "let's go eat" scan is what Secret Wars II would have been like if the Beyonder were unambiguously evil.
You alluded to this in the review, but you gotta love how the uniform of the MALE guard nicely conforms to Meredith's boobs...
Posted by: Morgan Wick | February 24, 2017 7:42 PM
The backup story is weird- Clint talks about how he tried leading the AWC in the past tense- he says he went back to being a foot soldier. But Clint is leading the WCA from before War Machine joined until Avengers West Coast 98, which starts the story where Bobbi died. So either Clint is talking in the past tense while he's still leading the AWC or Rhodey is being pretty mean to someone whose wife just died.
Posted by: Michael | February 24, 2017 7:53 PM
The lead story does feel more like Meredith's origin as Kaze II rather than an intro for the Face Thief. What a waste of a perfectly good trading card. Also, it's a clear sign that the CCA was long asleep at the wheel by this time given that they let that whole "face off" sequence pass muster. Ugh.
I do like Meredith and how she's portrayed here, though. The art is nice. I might pick up this issue if I come across it in the near future.
I think the deal with Rhodey's story (and the O'Neil/Adams GL/GA run) has a lot to do with the creators' frustration at not being able to solve real world problems when they write about tackling fictional ones all the time. When you care enough about something, sooner or later your conscience will begin to influence your work. Whether or not that is good for the story itself is usually left up to the reader.
Posted by: Clutch | February 25, 2017 3:32 AM
I always though that both the Masters of Silence and the Face Thief had some real potential, and it's unfortunate that more wasn't done with them.
Definitely in agreement with both fnord's observations and Clutch's comments regarding the War Machine back-up.
Posted by: Ben Herman | February 26, 2017 8:13 PM
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