Wednesday, December 4, 2013


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

The Plot: As Iron Man sinks into the sea, Rhodey and Bethany arrive in the area aboard a Stark International jet-copter. When they refuse to leave restricted airspace, they are shot down and taken prisoner.

Elsewhere, Namor rescues Iron Man and explains that he was protecting the island because its inhabitant, Hiram Dobbs, had nursed him back to health after he swam too close to the government waste stockpile and contracted radiation poisoning. Dobbs goes on to reveal that he has lived on the island for twenty years, and, despite the special forces' captain's claims that the U.S. has been dumping waste there for years, he had never seen any soldiers until the area until that very morning. Iron Man and Namor depart to investigate the soldiers' camp.

Rhodey and Bethany, meanwhile, have been taken aboard the soldiers' ship and escaped their captors. Roaming the vessel, they encounter the captain, who reveals that he and his men are not U.S. military after all, but agents of the Roxxon Oil Corporation. It turns out Roxxon has been trying to acquire the nearby island due to a deposit of vibranium within.

Namor and Iron Man arrive and swiftly rout the soldiers, leading the captain to activate a self-destruct mechanism back at his base camp. The soldiers surrender and Iron Man and Namor get everyone safely out of the blast radius, but the island is destroyed.

Continuity Notes: Two footnotes in the story point to events from last issue, filling readers in on Iron Man's drowning predicament.

The Roxxon soldiers' leader is named as "Captain Hale". He will return a few more times over the years, pretty much exclusively written by David Michelinie. Vibranium is a metal found in the Black Panther's country of Wakanda, with the unique ability to absorb sounds and impacts. Hale and vibranium together play a role over ten years later in a Michelinie-scripted Spider-Man/Iron Man/ Black Panther annual event called "The Vibranium Vendetta".

During the battle aboard Roxxon's ship, Iron Man refers to Bethany aloud as "Beth", something he should not know, having never met her. This does not go unnoticed by Ms. Cabe.

And speaking of Bethany -- she lets on that there is more to her than meets the eye, as she attempts to rattle off a security clearance code when ordered to leave restricted airspace, then she guides the jet-copter with ease into a splash landing after Rhodey is injured. She also efficiently KO's a guard with a judo chop, which Rhodey finds impressive.

My Thoughts: First off, I love the title of this issue. I'm a sucker for overly melodramatic puns, and this one is terrific. Otherwise, this is a decent conclusion to last issue's set-up.
Roxxon's masquerade seems a bit extreme -- their true nature is a mystery for the sake of having a mystery, rather than a genuinely organic plot point -- but it's always fun to see Marvel's favorite evil corporation in action, so I can forgive it.

Although -- what's the deal with Roxxon? Is "evil" a required job qualification there? They're always up to no good! and everyone who works for them, from the top of the company down to the lowliest security guard, is at the very least a huge jerk, if not an outright villain. I'd love to read a story where Roxxon donates some money to charity and some Marvel hero spends an issue trying to figure out what their angle is, only to have it turn out that they have a new CEO who just happens to be a nice guy.

Romita's artwork continues to be "of its time". Having dropped his guise as a special forces captain, Hale spends this issue in a fur-trimmed leisure suit with the shirt unbuttoned about halfway down his chest. I love the idea that he goes to work at a major corporation dressed this way.

Also, I probably should've noted this previously, but Michelinie and Layton have injected a real "James Bond" flavor into these stories since coming aboard, and it doesn't stop here. I'll try to touch on this more next time, but I have to note right now that there's nothing more Bondian than Bethany gratuitously spending half the issue running around the villain's boat in her bra (when she could very easily have put her top back on).

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