Monday, January 20, 2014

IRON MAN #134

"THE CHALLENGE"
Plot/Writer: David Michelinie | Plot/Finished Art: Bob Layton
Pencil Art: Jerry Bingham | Letters: John Costanza | Colors: Carl Gafford
Editor: Jim Salicrup | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: After running his armor through several tests, Tony takes Bethany Cabe out for a date. Meanwhile, an armored figure flies across the Atlantic, bound for Manhattan. As Tony and Bethany take a cab home after dinner, a civil disturbance draws their attention. Exiting the cab, they find the Titanium Man bellowing his intention to destroy the city.

Continuity Notes: A footnote reminds us that Iron Man killed the Carnelian ambassador in issue #124. One of Iron Man's tests is for a security measure to make certain he can never be remote-controlled that way again.

Mrs. Arbogast informs Tony that Iron Man's speaking engagement at the Lions' Club has been cancelled in light of the Carnelian incident. Titanium Man is unaware of this cancellation, and his first stop in New York is the Club, where he accosts the replacement speaker: Rodney Dangerfield.

When Tony arrives at Bethany's apartment, a seemingly innocuous bum makes not of his arrival with a gold-plated pen. This seems to be the set-up for a future story (at least, I assume he's not involved with Titanium Man!).


Bethany's partner, Ling McPherson, makes her second appearance, on her way out to bodyguard a professional tennis player. Tony innocently flirts with her while in Bethany's earshot. Neither here nor there, but Tony is also seen "rating" a woman he passes in the street (as a nine or maybe a nine-and-a-half), and when he takes Bethany to dinner at the Playboy Club, where he is identified as a Gold member, he is hit upon by a lady in a very revealing evening gown while Bethany is away (to his credit, Tony rebuffs the woman's advances before Bethany comes to his rescue).


And of course, at long last, The Other is revealed to us as -- gasp! -- Titanium Man!

My Thoughts: As primarily a sub-plot issue, this story is relatively uneventful. We get some further fall-out from the Carnelian ambassador's assassination (and it's nice to see that little incident wasn't swept under the rug as soon as it was resolved), but other than that, pretty much nothing happens. We still don't know Titanium Man's plan, aside from some vague babbling about destroying Manhattan to prove to the Soviets where his loyalty lies.

What's up with the fact that Tony still has a fully-stocked bar in his penthouse? I mean I suppose maybe it's for entertaining or something, but you'd think that, this close to his recent troubles, he might try not to keep alcohol so readily available!

One thing I enjoy about the Michelinie/Layton run is just how much they play up Tony Stark as a dashing playboy. I've read other IRON MAN runs, and that aspect of the character is often swept aside in favor of the "reclusive inventor" persona. I much prefer this version of Stark, who is always out on the town, spending money like it's free, being fawned over by beautiful women, and just generally having a great social life. This, to me, is how Tony Stark should be handled. It's a shame more writers don't realize that. Iron Man is the hero readers should envy more than any other, not due to his heroic identity, but for his civilian life!

Also -- since I have a little extra space this entry -- I just want to mention how much I love John Costanza's lettering. It's big and bold, and his titles are usually quite well done. Costanza is easily one of my favorite Bronze Age letterers.

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