Wednesday, February 26, 2014


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

The Plot: Tony and Rhodey check into the Park Sheraton Hotel in Dallas for the 24th Annual conclave of Electrical Engineers and Innovators. As Tony explores the convention floor, he bumps into several of his business rivals. The Stark International exhibit is soon assaulted by a trio of armored men calling themselves the Raiders. Tony changes to Iron Man and manages to beat the villains back, but not before they total much of the Stark exhibit.

The next day, Tony digs around for clues as to who was behind the attack, which targeted only his exhibit, but comes up empty. On Sunday, the final day of the convention, as Iron Man gives an exhibition for the assembled conventioneers, the Raiders attack again. They briefly have Iron Man on the ropes, but in the end he turns the tide and defeats them.

Later, Edwin Cord, head of the Cord Conglomerate, uses footage of the Raiders in action in an attempt to win a contract from SHIELD. But SHIELD Agent Burke is appalled at Cord's use of the mercenaries and their assault on Stark's private property, and orders Cord arrested instead.

Continuity Notes: As he explores the convention, Tony has brief exchanges with:
  1. Edwin Cord, who a footnote tells us was recently seen in DAREDEVIL #167, an issue from the famous Frank Miller run which just happened to be guest-written by David Michelinie.
  2. SHIELD Purchasing Agent Burke, who is at the convention to investigate Cord in the aftermath of his DAREDEVIL appearance.
  3. The Williams Innovations booth, which chafes Tony, as he knows the company is a front for the Maggia. Tony thinks that it's been "barely a month" since he battled the Maggia in issues 137-139, continuing the policy of cramming Iron Man's serialized adventures into brief timeframes.
  4. Augustine Cross, head of Cross Technological Enterprises, a company that figured into Scott Lang's very first outings as Ant-Man, seen in MARVEL PREMIERE issues 47 and 48, which were also written by Michelinie (and, for that matter, inked by Layton over John Byrne's pencils). Cross mentions that the former Avenger, Hawkeye, is currently serving as his head of security, a reference to a sub-plot in concurrent issues of AVENGERS.
  5. And of course, Jonas Hale, everyone's favorite sinister Roxxon executive (and again I ask, is there any other kind?). A footnote reminds us that Iron Man met Hale in issues 120, 121, and 143.
Tony calls up Bethany to check in, and she is unexpectedly distant. After hanging up, narration informs us that she had things to do, which she must do alone.
During Iron Man's battle with the Raiders across Dallas, he crashes into a boxing match commentated by Howard Cosell and Muhammad Ali. Cosell then proceeds to call the play-by-play on the rest of Iron Man's battle, a nifty narrative technique (which might have worked better on film, but Michelinie gets definite points for effort here).

By the way, Rhodey leaves Tony on page 2 (Friday) to go "cruising for cowgirls" in Tony's limo, and is never seen again for the remainder of the story, which goes all the way through Sunday. I'm going to assume he was successful. Good for him.

My Thoughts: It's a done-in-one that continues the Michelinie/Layton formula of globe- (or in this case state-)trotting, with enough continuity touches to remind readers that this is still an ongoing serial. It makes perfect sense that all the various high-tech firms in the Marvel Universe would attend conventions like this one, and it's bits like this that make me appreciate Michelinie and Layton even more. They take something mundane like a trade show, but by populating it with familiar faces and several footnotes to let readers know they aren't just making all these guys up,they maintain the cohesiveness of the overall Marvel Universe.

The story itself is a little hare-brained, though. Does it seem logical for the head of a major company to assault a private citizen and then admit that assault by screening footage of it for a government agent?? The story informs us that Cord is desperate to get his SHIELD contract back, and desperation can lead people to do some stupid things, but usually that's in the heat of the moment. This bone-headed move is quite premeditated!

Artistically, there are a couple of neat moments in the issue. At the stark exhibit, we see monitors displaying both Iron Man's armor and the Jupiter explorer seen in past issues. Later, Tony changes to Iron Man behind a rear projection screen, so that his silhouette is visible as he dons the armor -- again, something that might look better on film, but is a really cool idea nonetheless.
Otherwise, this is a pretty uninspired story, but the continuity touches at the trade show provide enough depth to keep it relevant. Sometimes a stand-alone, done-in-one story is needed, to remind you that not every adventure is part of a multi-chapter epic.

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