Wednesday, January 15, 2014

IRON MAN #133

"THE HERO WITHIN"
Plot/Script: David Michelinie | Plot/Finished Art: Bob Layton
Layouts: Jerry Bingham | Letters: Irving Watanabe | Colors: Glynis Wein
Editor: Roger Stern | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Failsafes prevent Stark personnel from opening Iron Man's fused armor. As his limited oxygen supply begins to run out, the Golden Avenger is rushed to lab for further inspection. Scott Lang secretly changes to Ant-Man and offers his aid. Guided by Iron Man, Ant-Man journeys through the fused armor, eventually releasing the failsafe mechanism from within, and saving Iron Man's life.

At the same time, elsewhere in Stark's complex, the pulse regulator has been removed from the unconscious Hulk, allowing him to revert to Bruce Banner. Tony Stark arrives at the operation's completion, and helps Banner to surreptitiously escape Stark International before the Army can recapture him.

Continuity Notes: Bethany tells Rhodey that despite their past differences, she has accepted Iron Man as an important part of Tony's life.

The final page's humorous "next issue" box tells all Bill Mantlo fans to stand by for the resolution of "the plotline that would not die", that "mystery" villain last seen in issue #115 -- Titanium Man! Err, I mean... The Other! The slightly snarky wording of that blurb, by the way, leads me to assume Michelinie and Layton had no interest in the story, but that readers were probably writing in for the past year and a half asking about it.

My Thoughts: This issue is Michelinie and Layton's tribute to that Roy Thomas/Neal Adams classic, "A Journey to the Center of the Android!" from AVENGERS #93. We see Ant-Man wandering through the inside of Iron Man's armor, confronting sparking wires, flame-retardant foam, and fused slag. Unlike the classic Vision tale, this adventure doesn't feature any active threat against Ant-Man, making the whole thing a rather boring affair. The pictures are pretty, but even with the threat of Tony running low on oxygen, there is no real tension to Ant-Man's quest.

Stark and Banner seem to give up on curing or containing the Hulk a little too easily, but I suppose with the military parked right outside, Banner's departure is the only real solution. And -- I have to assume this is the intentionally desired effect on the part of of Michelinie and Layton -- as Rhodey prepares to fly Banner out west, without my even consciously willing it, "The Lonely Man Theme" from the INCREDIBLE HULK TV series started playing, perfectly on cue, in my head. It was a weird, but kind of cool, involuntary reaction.

Lastly, I just have to comment that Rhodey referring to the Hulk as a "big green honky" is one of the greatest things I've ever seen in a comic book.

2 comments:

  1. I'm sure the occasional letter had something to do with wrapping up the dangling Titanium Man subplot, but it was also that Jim Shooter just didn't let writers get away with crap like that. (Or with letting genocidal mass-murderers walk free, as Claremont/Byrne originally wanted to do with Dark Phoenix and an "oops, all cured now!" resolution. Instead, we got UXM #137, perhaps the greatest Marvel comic ever. [Until Jean gets un-killed five years later, at least.])

    Shooter was a vicious boss (and his assistant/hitman, Jim "Christopher Priest" Owsley, was hardly nicer), but they ran a tight ship. Much better than Joe "Screw Continuity!" Quesada, Jemas, and the TPB-driven crap Marvel's descended to since '01. JMO.

    —Dan

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    1. Yeah, the first part of the Shooter era produced some great comics. I find that as his tenure went on, though, the artwork across almost the entire line began to look bland. John Byrne has said several times that Shooter was too controlling and Dick Giordano, then EiC at DC, was too permissive. In Byrne's ideal scenario, the two would've swapped jobs every five years so Shooter could get Giordano's trains running on time again, while Giordano could mellow out some of the built-up tension left by Shooter.

      Priest has a great article about working for Shooter on his website. I believe it's called "Why I Never Talk About Spider-Man". He's very candid there about things that went on back then and some of the bridges he burned as an impressionable youngster. I read the thing every few years because I find it so fascinating.

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