Monday, March 3, 2014


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

The Plot: As Mr. Pithins escorts a group of science students around the Stark International grounds, Iron man arrives at the administration building and changes to Tony Stark. Tony greets the students, then welcomes SI's new Vice President, Yvette Avril from the Paris office. Meanwhile, security chief Martinelli gives Pithins an earful over his picture appearing in a TIME magazine article about SI. After work, Martinelli returns to his apartment, where he is attacked by Blacklash (formerly Whiplash). Martinelli's dog, Peanut, is killed in the scuffle, but Martinelli survives.

The next day, Blacklash arrives at Stark International to finish the job. He attacks the grounds and Martinelli's security team moves to fight back, but Iron Man soon arrives to take over. However, Iron Man's battle with Blacklash causes a fire to break out, and the entire Stark complex is engulfed in flames.

Continuity Notes: Mr. Pithins receives a first name this issue -- Artemus.

Tony checks in on some photographs he took of the Roxxon satellite in issue #144, but finds that the radiation boost provided by Sunturion scrambled his armor's circuits such that the photos are useless, and Roxxon's culpability in the Allantown incident remains a secret to the public at large. Also, Tony refers to the Allantown incident as having occurred "last week", which sets the past seven issues within a weeklong timeframe.

Martinelli's berating of Pithins over his photo in TIME is due to the fact that Martinelli's contract prohibits the company from ever displaying his likeness under any circumstances. Once the photo is published, Martinelli is considerably distraught, and knows it's only a matter of time until someone comes after him. The grounds for his fears are unexplained this issue, though.

Yvette first appeared way back in issue #119. At the time I thought she was as secretary (which is why I was very confused over her appearance at the employee appreciation party in the U.S. in issue 137). Rhodey is shown to have some romantic interest in her here, after dancing up a storm with her previously at the party.

Tony tries to get Bethany to go on a double date with Yvette and Rhodey, but Ling informs him that she's gone for a few days. However after hanging up, we see that Bethany hasn't quite left yet -- she was simply dodging Tony's call. A footnote reminds us that Bethany had her mysterious trip to the West German embassy in issue #143.

At one point, as Tony gives Yvette a tour of the Stark complex, several crates are seen on a loading dock, bound for Dr. Doom's country of Latveria.

Blacklash gives both Martinelli and Iron Man a rundown of the new equipment that came with his name and costume change. He has more gimmicky whips than before, and a set of nunchucks. However, since all his weapons are powered by electricity, he is unable to kill Martinelli at his apartment when the security chief falls in the complex's swimming pool. Rather than risk electrocution by diving in after Martinelli, Blacklash retreats.

My Thoughts: This story hinges on a very flimsy premise. Are we to believe, even in the years prior to the internet and social media, that a massive, multi-national company like Stark Enterprises could keep the identity of their head of security a complete secret from the general public? And beyond that, the reason Blacklash calls off his first hit on Martinelli, as described above, is pretty thin.

That said, it's always nice to see a story focusing on a member of the SI staff other than Rhodey. Martinelli has struck me as a good, albeit gruff, guy since his first appearance in the Hulk two-parter, so he seems a good choice to headline this tale. At least, he's the only member of the staff (again, besides Rhodey) who seems likely to hold his own against Blacklash long enough for Iron Man to get involved.

The death of Martinelli's dog was a cheap emotional stunt, though. As soon as he walked into his apartment and started talking to Peanut about how great she was and how basically she was his only friend, I thought "oh no, this dog's a goner." And sure enough, a few pages later she had been crushed by debris during Martinelli's scuffle with Blacklash. And as always in such situations, I was quite dismayed. Michelinie and Layton offed an entire town of a thousand people a few issues back, presumably including women, children, and the elderly, and I barely batted an eye. But they killed a dog this time! A poor, loyal dog! That's low!

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