Wednesday, March 5, 2014


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

The Plot: Iron Man temporarily subdues Blacklash and sets about saving Stark International from an all-consuming inferno. He rescues Pithins, Yvette, and the science students from last issue, and then grabs Mrs. Arbogast from the burning administration building. The fire department has the majority of the blaze contained, leaving only the admin building to be saved. Iron Man grabs an empty boxcar from a nearby train station, fills it with water from Long Island Sound, and extinguishes the last of the fire. However, despite Martinelli's best efforts, Blacklash escapes in the chaos.

Later, Martinelli explains to Tony that he was born Vince Martell, and "Victor Martinelli" is a creation of the Federal Witness Protection Program, following Martell's testifying against his former employers, the mob-run Center City Construction Company in Philadelphia. Martinelli suspects that the heads of Center City saw his photo in TIME and sent Blacklash to kill him.

Knowing Blacklash will try again, Tony and Martinelli prepare a trap for him. And sure enough, the next day Blacklash returns for Martinelli and corners him on Stark's airfield, where Iron Man gets the drop on him. Iron Man returns Blacklash to his bosses at Center City, telling them that if they'll forget about Martinelli, he will forget about them.
Continuity Notes: Footnotes to last issue explain how the fire started and remind readers that Blacklash referred to Martinelli as "Martell" earlier (which I had thought at the time was simply Blacklash forgetting the exact name of his target).

As Martinelli explains his past, we learn that he served in Vietnam and was discharged in 1971, after which he became a civil engineer. He had a sweetheart in Philly named Franci, and after his placement in Witness Protection, he was a night watchmen for Williams Innovations, but quit when the Maggia took them over (a footnote directs readers to MARVEL PREMIERE #55 for details on Williams Innovations). Martinelli then joined Stark's security staff, eventually becoming the company's security director.

Blacklash's true name is given as "Mark Scott", which would seem to be an alias since all the Marvel Handbooks I've ever seen state his name as being Mark Scarlotti. He has a floozy named Marlene hanging out with him, who claims she previously dated the Melter. Oh, and he rocks a terrific perm when not wearing his costume. Blacklash also notes that his weapons and gimmicks were upgraded by Justin Hammer.

Rhodey is seen wearing a New York Yankees cap as he waits for Iron Man to spring his trap. No word on whether he's actually a fan, or just one of the many tools out there who think it's hip to wear Yankees gear, while knowing nothing about baseball.

My Thoughts: The first part of this story, featuring Iron Man battling the blazing inferno at Stark International, is pretty nifty. The art and colors combine to give a great sense that fire is raging all around our heroes, and I rarely tire of seeing superheroes battle natural disasters. Watching Iron Man beat Blacklash is fun, but seeing him conquer a massive fire is more impressive, likely because fire is something we can actually relate to in the real world.
The rest of the issue is okay, but nothing particularly special. It's nice to get some backstory on Martinelli, as, after Rhodey and Mrs. Arbogast, he is probably the most frequently seen among Stark's staff (though he could be neck-in-neck with Pithins, I suppose).

I would be remiss if I didn't mention my appreciation of Joe Rosen's lettering here, too. He lettered a few previous issues, but this marks the beginning of his extended run on the title. He will remain the regular letterer for the remainder of the Michelinie/Layton run. In general I find him an excellent letterer, and in particular I love the way he writes credits. Practically every issue he lettered in the eighties has the same style of credit box, and I find those big, balloony names really fun to look at.

Plus, Rosen lettered the majority of Roger Stern's AMAZING SPIDER-MAN run, so I tend to associate his letters with that era of Spider-comics. And anything that makes me think of Stern's Spidey can't be bad.

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