Wednesday, January 22, 2014

IRON MAN #135

"RETURN OF THE HERO!"
Plot/Script: 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: As Titanium Man rampages through the streets, Bethany suggests to Tony that he slip away and summon Iron Man. Ducking into a seedy massage parlor, Tony quickly changes and then Iron Man confronts Titanium Man. The villain explains that he is trying to get back in the Soviet Union's good graces by destroying the U.S.A.'s most important city.

Following this monologue, the fight begins. Iron Man and Titanium Man battle across the city, eventually winding up on the ice rink at Rockefeller Plaza, where Iron Man finally gains the upper hand and defeats his foe. Iron man is cheered by the public before leaving. After changing back to Tony Stark, he accompanies Bethany home and enters her apartment with her.

It's that thing from the beginning of SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE!
Continuity Notes: As Titanium Man monologues, he references his time as a member of the Titanic Three in AVENGERS #130. He also reveals that he was The Other, so naming himself to prevent the Unicorn from accidentally revealing his name in the heat of battle. A footnote directs readers to issue #113 for Titanium Man's recruitment of the Unicorn.

During the fight, Iron Man uses judo against his foe, recalling the lessons Captain America gave him in issue #125.

At one point Iron Man mentions that his public reputation has suffered "ever since a business rival caused my armor to kill a visiting diplomat!", and there's no editorial note. I'm not certain why Michelinie is so averse to calling Justin Hammer or Carnelia by name, especially when he's never been shy about it before, but this coyness makes the line clunky and confusingly vague.

The story's finale finds Iron Man's reputation on the mend, as the citizens of New York cheer his victory.

My Thoughts: Okay -- has Titanium Man always been a giant?!? I swear I've read comics with him before, and his armor was normal sized. I thought. But here he's about fifteen feet tall, and when Iron Man rips his helmet off at the end of their fight, the man beneath the armor is just as big!! A giant wore the Titanium Man armor? This bears further investigation.

Anyway, I've always liked the Titanium Man's visual, and Bingham and Layton do a great job with him here. I find him much more ominous and threatening than Iron Man's other major armored Communist foe, Crimson Dynamo.

The story is fairly unimpressive, though. After all that scheming as The Other, we find that Titanium Man's diabolical master plan is... to smash New York so hard that the U.S.S.R. will take him back. Really? That's what we waited all these issues for? It's pretty clear (as if the sarcastic "next issue" box two issues ago hadn't made it clear enough) that Michelinie and Layton had no interest in picking up Bill Mantlo's old plot, and likely only did it here because readers or editorial were bugging them to.

So the result is a thirteen-page fight scene (out of a seventeen-page comic!). Don't get me wrong, the fight is handled well, with fun choreography and visits to several locations in the city -- plus Iron Man makes use of the extra security safeguards he just installed last issue when Titanium Man tries to trap him in a tractor beam -- but after waiting so long for this confrontation, I had expected more than a mindless brawl.

2 comments:

  1. Well, as you noted, Michelinie/Layton really had no interest in this plotline, so a mindless brawl is all we got.

    And no, Boris Bullski is not a giant. The Titanium Man armor is large and bulky, yes, but it should only be about 8-10 feet tall. That panel is just ridiculous.

    —Dan

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    1. Well I'm glad I wasn't crazy! I did some Googling after writing this post and everything I saw said what you say, that Titanium Man was supposed to be maybe ten fee tall at most. Perhaps Bingham was given some bad reference.

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