Wednesday, February 19, 2014


Plot/Writer: David Michelinie | Plot/Finished Art: Bob Layton
Pencil Art: John Romita, Jr. | Letters: John Costanza | Colors: Bob Sharen
Editor: Jim Salicrup | Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: As Iron Man gapes in awe at the Roxxon space station, a meteor shower flies through the area. Iron Man is joined in fighting off the meteors by an armored figure named Sunturion, the space station's guardian. Sunturion invites Iron Man aboard, where the armored Avenger is greeted by Arthur Dearborn, the station's designer. Dearborn gives Iron Man a tour and explains that the station, called Star Well I, was created as a receptor and storage unit for solar radiation.

Dearborn admits that the Allentown, Iowa incident was the result of a malfunction in Star Well's systems. Iron Man is preparing to incarcerate Dearborn when Russian satellite attack drones enter Star Well's airspace, having tracked Iron Man to the station. Dearborn reveals that he and Sunturion are one and the same, then the duo heads out to stop the drones, after which they return to the station separately.

Dearborn receives a call from Jonas Hale with Roxxon, asking for a status report. But when Hale learns that Iron Man is aboard the station, he attempts to remotely detonate it. Iron man, however, has removed the self-destruct mechanism, keeping Star Well intact. Hale then begs Iron Man to let him remain aboard the station, but Iron Man refuses, resulting in a battle between the pair, which causes collateral damage that sends Star Well plummeting toward the Earth.

Continuity Notes: Dearborn explains that Roxxon's vibranium plot in issues 120 and 121 was in the interest of acquiring materials to construct a spacecraft to shuttle Star Well's components into space. The station was assembled between issue #121 and this issue.

A brief sub-plot page on Earth finds Bethany at the West German embassy in New York, where an agent recently released from East German custody claims to have some "startling news" about Bethany's presumed-deceased husband. Going out on a limb, I'm guessing that maybe he's still alive.

When Sunturion demonstrates the ability to teleport, Iron Man notes that he's heard of a mutant in the X-Men who can pull a similar stunt, reminding readers that there was once a simpler (better) time when every single character in the Marvel Universe wasn't on a first name basis with every other character.

A footnote informs readers that Jonas Hale headed up Roxxon's vibranium plot in issues 120 and 121. In the same scene, Dearborn explains how he became Sunturion -- his "costume" is not armor, as it appears. His entire body is made of microwave radiation, allowing him to transform at will. His powers are the result of experiments performed by Roxxon's equally shady subsidiary company, the Brand Corporation.

My Thoughts: Cool art abounds in this story. All the scenes in space, featuring what appears to be a hand drawn star field in the background, are breathtaking. It's rare that I feel fully immersed in whatever locale a comic is presenting, but this issue does an astounding job of taking the reader into outer space with Iron Man. Plus Sunturion has a nifty design, the space station is equally impressive, and the action is well choreographed by Romita.
Otherwise, the story is a pretty straightforward action affair, with only one sub-plot page to draw attention away from the main conflict. Dearborn's connection with Sunturion is played somewhat as a mystery, even though it's pretty well telegraphed that they're the same person. They appear in subsequent scenes, never on-panel together, and Dearborn is the only person living on the space station.

Iron Man admits that he admires Dearborn's goals, but I have trouble reconciling this with the fact that Dearborn is incredibly nonchalant about the deaths of two hundred people, caused by the space station he designed. Dearborn writes them off as acceptable losses, and while Iron Man objects, he's not too convincing about it. He does attempt to bring Dearborn to justice, but the fact that he's so chummy with him up to the end of the story just feels wrong.

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