Wednesday, January 1, 2014

IRON MAN #129

"DREAD NIGHT OF THE DREADNOUGHT!"
Script: David Michelinie | Plot: D. Minds | Pencils: Sal Buscema | Inks: M. Hands
Colors: George Bell | Letters: John Costanza | Editor: Roger Stern
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Tony Stark presents Nick Fury with the resignations of his entire staff, then tells Fury he's going on a nine month-long vacation. Realizing he's been out-maneuvered, Fury agrees to relinquish control of Stark international.

Tony and Fury attempt to make peace over dinner, but Fury is called away by a priority signal. Tony changes to Iron Man and follows Fury to a remote complex in the mountains, where a Dreadnought is on a rampage. Iron Man destroys the robot and departs.

Continuity Notes: Bethany, Rhodey, and Mrs. Arbogast all make cameo appearances following Tony's recovery of Stark International. It is also revealed that the resignations of Stark's entire staff were faked. Fury agrees to sell Jarvis's stock back to him, and put the rest out on the open market. Mrs Arbogast also informs Tony of trouble at Stark's Hong Kong branch.

The complex Fury investigates is called Project 13, and it once housed something called F.A.U.S.T., which was only defeated by all of the Avengers. There is absolutely no indication of what F.A.U.S.T. was, but two separate footnotes refer readers to THOR #271 for details.


The Dreadnought is a towering robot which was previously sent to kill Fury by Hydra in STRANGE TALES #154, per another footnote. This particular Dreadnought is uncharacteristically loquacious, babbling about someone called "the Director" and claiming to have no knowledge of Hydra.

My Thoughts: Well, that was a disappointment. SHIELD's takeover of Stark International began in the very first issue of the Michelinie/Layton run, and was teased numerous times over the following year-plus. But now it's undone in a matter of pages. It's such a ridiculous back-pedal that I wonder if Michelinie and Layton ever intended to do anything with it. I'm now thinking they simply used the plot to add an extra reason for Tony's alcoholism, and nothing more.

Fortunately, they're at least giving us a new plot thread to look forward to. I have no idea who the Director is, but I'm curious to find out. Hopefully this will be a relatively long-term mystery. I'm also mildly curious about Project 13. Not curious enough to track down a copy of THOR #271, but curious enough to hope it's elaborated upon further in future issues.

And by the way -- this issue ends with one of my comic book pet peeves. Iron Man destroys the Dreadnought, saves Fury, and then leaves. He asks no questions, does no further investigation. He just flies away as if he had never been there. Shouldn't he be just a little curious as to who sent the robot to this highly secure, extremely dangerous facility?? I guess not.


A couple final thoughts: One, John Romita, Jr. has left IRON MAN for an extended hiatus as of this issue. I don't know what he was doing in the meantime, but he's gone for at least a year. Guest art in this issue is provided by Marvel's workhorse of the seventies, Sal Buscema, and he brings with him all the little signature tics I love. I assume Layton was one of the "M. Hands" who inked the issue, but I would've loved to have seen him finish Buscema for the whole thing.

Also, I really liked seeing Nick Fury in a suit this issue. So many artists default him to the black/blue SHIELD jumpsuit, but there was a time when he wore a suit more often, especially when out and about in public. The jumpsuit was really only ever for combat missions.

2 comments:

  1. F.A.U.S.T. was a really powerful, sentient, supercomputer. First seen in Marvel Team-Up #18, which was one of the last issues of that title where the Human Torch was the lead, rather than Spider-Man. (The Torch/Iceman team-up in #23 is the very last, IIRC.)

    —Dan

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    1. Thanks! I love how inter-connected Marvel was in the seventies and early to mid eighties. A villain/headquarters plotline jumping from the Torch to Thor and the Avengers to Iron Man, across multiple writers, is the sort of thing you just don't see anymore.

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