Wednesday, November 27, 2013


Writer/Plot: David Michelinie | Finished Art/Plot: Bob Layton
Pencil Art: John Romita Jr. | Letters: Diana Albers | Colors: Carl Gafford
Editor: Roger Stern | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Iron Man triggers an electromagnetic pulse, creating a diversion which allows him to subdue rogue SHIELD agent Buck Richlen. Immediately after, the Helicarrier comes under assault from Russian fighter jets, and Iron Man realizes that with no one at the helm, the SHIELD craft has drifted into Soviet airspace.

While Iron Man flies out to deal with the jets, the Helicarrier's occupants come around. Nick Fury orders a retreat from the U.S.S.R., and with Iron Man's help, the escape is successful. Back aboard the Helicarrier, Fury has Richlen taken into custody, and assures Iron Man that he and his men were a renegade cell within SHIELD.

Later, at Stark International's Paris branch, Tony decodes data he procured from the Helicarrier's computer system, and learns that SHIELD has been buying up Stark stock, to the point that they practically have a controlling interest in the company. When Stark calls Fury, angrily confronting him with this fact, Fury reveals that although Richlen's unit was acting without orders, they were working in the interest of a SHIELD directive: to acquire Stark International and get the company back into the munitions business.

Continuity Notes: Two footnotes in this issue, referencing the past two issues, fill readers in on the events that have led Iron Man to his current situation.

While in Paris, Tony attempts to call Bethany Cabe in order to apologize for blowing her off last issue, but she isn't home. Tony also sips a cocktail while decoding the SHIELD info, and then grabs an entire bottle of wine after learning about SHIELD's takeover plan. Considering that the "Demon in a Bottle" storyline is considered to officially begin next issue, this is obvious foreshadowing.

My Thoughts: I don't think electromagnetic pulses work this way, so Iron Man's escape from last issue's predicament is a bit of a cheat. He simply blows out the lights, but no other electronics in the area are affected. Beyond that, just how does the Helicarrier "drift" into Russian airspace? Wouldn't you assume it's just running on a pre-prgrammed flight plan, with crewmen on the flight deck to back up the automated systems? I can't imagine there's a guy standing at a big wooden steering wheel, guiding their course at all times.

Even with this flawed premise, however, the story is fun. It is, as a typical Marvel cover blurb might say, an "All Action Issue". Iron Man dogfighting a bunch of Russian jets is a neat concept, and Romita and Layton provide some suitably exciting visuals, though I can't help feeling an appearance by the Crimson Dynamo, scrambled in response to Iron Man's appearance, would have served the story better. But maybe he was off on another mission that day.

Otherwise, there really isn't much to comment on here. The only real contribution to the ongoing plot is the hostile takeover by SHIELD, which gives us the unusual (in 1979) concept of Nick Fury as the villain (or at least the antagonist). But just like the "rogue SHIELD faction" which I noted last issue, this concept will eventually become overdone in the following decades. I guess it's interesting that Michelinie and Layton came up with both ideas first, though (unless someone beat them to it in the Silver Age and I'm simply unaware).

Oh, and speaking of Fury -- I know John Romita, Jr. has a tendency to draw characters steeped in the fashions of the time, but I can't abide his depiction of Nick Fury here, with a thick, shaggy seventies hairdo. It works for a playboy like Stark, but Fury in anything other than a close-cropped military 'do is just wrong (not to mention silly)!

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