Monday, December 16, 2013


Writer/Plot: David Michelinie | Co-Plotter: Bob Layton | Pencil Art: John Romita, Jr.
Finished Art: Layton & Friends | Letters: Jim Novak | Colors: Bob Sharen
Editor: Roger Stern | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: With aid from Bethany, Iron Man manages to escape from and defeat Blizzard, Melter, and Whiplash. After the villains are arrested and Iron Man has changed back to Tony Stark, Bethany suggests that the pair spend the night together at the hotel.

The next day, Tony struggles all day with inventor's block before changing to Iron Man to blow off some steam. He later flies to the United Nations, where Iron Man has been requested at a diplomatic function for the Carnelian ambassador. But as Iron Man poses for photos with Ambassador Kotznin, Justin Hammer once again seizes control of our hero's armor, using his repulsor rays to assassinate the ambassador.

Continuity Notes: There are two editorial notes this issue: one points to IRON MAN #119 in regards to SHIELD's takeover attempt on Stark International, while the other reminds readers that Hammer's most recent test on Iron Man's armor took place last issue.

Speaking of Hammer, Whiplash makes an offhand remark that he, Melter, and Blizzard are in the tycoon's employ, but there is no follow-up. It is unclear if Iron Man overheard the comment.

Bethany and Tony consummate their brief romance this issue, with Tony apologizing the next morning for not quite being himself due to all the champagne he consumed. But even an inebriated Stark is impressive to Bethany.

The next morning, Mrs. Arbogast informs Tony that Rhodey is recovering nicely from the gunshot wound he suffered three issues ago. Then the "Demon in a Bottle" strikes again as Tony pours himself a cocktail at 9:30 A.M., then spends the day working at his drafting board while drinking brandy-laced coffee.

The Carnelian ambassador, mentioned back in the second Michelinie/Layton issue when Tony attended his banquet, is seen and named for the first time here. Bethany has been hired to provide security consultation services for his public appearance.

This issue also marks the first appearance of Mr. Pithins, the Public Relations Director at Stark International, who remains an extremely minor supporting character throughout the Michelinie/Layton run.

My Thoughts: Building on last issue's events, the various pieces spread out by Michelinie and Layton over the past nine months are beginning to draw closer together: the swimmingly throwaway plot point of the Carnelian ambassador's reception turns out to be a bigger deal than we'd thought, by way of Hammer's tests coming to fruition, and Bethany's security background plays into the same storyline. I love this stuff.

By the way -- I need to point something out; an aspect of comic book storytelling I love, but which I rarely see mentioned by anyone: Michelinie and Layton took over with issue #116, a story which takes place over a single night. Issue 117 covers the next day and night. The following day is chronicled in issues 118 and 119. 120, 121, and 122 cover roughly one more day. 123 is the day and night after that, and this issue, 124, is the following day and night (which then carries into #125, as we'll soon see).

This means that the past nine issues of IRON MAN -- nine months of real time for readers at the time, mind you -- have covered five to six days in Tony Stark's life. And I don't believe there's much of a slow down for the next few issues, either. I don't know why I love this storytelling style so much, but I do. I can't even explain what it is about it that appeals to me. For whatever peculiar reason, I just think it's really cool that all these adventures have been crammed into less than a week for Iron Man. This sort of thing used to happen to Spider-Man a lot, too.

Anyway -- one last note: when I was a kid, I played TSR's MARVEL SUPERHEROES ROLEPLAYING GAME, and there was an example for one of the game mechanics which utilized Iron Man's repulsor ray malfunctioning and killing the Carnelian ambassador on national television. I never thought much of it back then, but when I read this issue for the first time about six or seven years ago, that childhood memory came back to me as I reached the final scene. I had been spoiled for a scene written in 1979 by a game published in 1986, but I didn't know it until I read the scene in 2006!!

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