Wednesday, March 12, 2014


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

The Plot: Iron Man rescues a Stark International freighter bound for Latveria from a pirate attack, then orders the vessel to return to America rather than deliver its cargo. Soon, Tony Stark arrives at a regional managers' meeting at SI headquarters and berates then fires one of his men for selling electronic components to Latveria.

Meanwhile, Dr. Doom returns to the present day after studying magic in the distant past with the master mage, Cagliostro. Doom is informed that the electronics he was expecting have returned to the U.S. aboard the Stark freighter. Later, Iron Man stands guard over the electronics when agents of Dr. Doom arrive and best him, stealing the parts and departing.

The next day, Rhodey flies Tony to Latveria, where Tony is immediately approached by the local police. Serving Latveria's current monarch, King Zorba, they provide Tony with the location of Doom, currently considered a criminal, in hopes that Iron Man will take him out. Shortly, Iron Man arrives at Doom's castle and engages in battle with the deposed villain. Their struggle takes them near Doom's time machine, and the doctor's henchman, Hauptmann, activates the device, throwing Doom and Iron Man back in time. Hauptmann then destroys the machine.

Continuity Notes: Tony's penthouse is still out of commission, following the fire in issues 146 and 147. Tony has yet to unpack any of the boxes he moved to his temporary quarters, as he has been too busy mooning over the departed Bethany.

Hauptmann explains that he hates Doom due to the villain murdering his brother in the Stan Lee/Jack Kirby produced FANTASTIC FOUR #85.

Prince Zorba seized the Latveriam throne in FANTASTIC FOUR #200, with the FF's aid. Initially a benevolent ruler, he would be corrupted by his power and become a worse tyrant than Doom ever was by the time of Doom's reacquisition of his kingdom in FF #247 (meaning, for those keeping score, Doom was deposed for close to four years!).

I suppose Dr. Doom is Marvel's most popular super-villain, and likely the most in-demand by writers. Just for the heck of it, I grabbed a couple other collected editions from my bookcase, featuring Marvel issues from around this time, and learned that Doom appeared in Chris Claremont's and Dave Cockrum's UNCANNY X-MEN #145-147 in May, June, and July of 1981, followed by this issue and the next of IRON MAN -- 149-150 -- in August and September, and then in John Byrne's FANTASTIC FOUR #236 in November. Six issues, comprising three stories, over seven months, across three classically regarded runs on three titles, for one villain!

My Thoughts: This issue mainly serves as an extended set-up to next month's Dr. Doom epic, and possibly more than any other issue thus far in the Michelinie/Layton run, it suffers from "part one syndrome". Other than a brief moment of Tony wondering where Bethany is, the issue features no sub-plots to help it stand on its own. It's just Iron Man vs. pirates, Iron Man vs. Doom's henchmen, and then Iron Man vs. Doom himself. Very straightforward and, in all honesty, not terribly engrossing. Perhaps due to the fact that the next issue is an anniversary number, 150, it's pretty much guaranteed that the story will not end on the last page.
The story might have been better served, in fact, if Michelinie and Layton had squeezed the entire thing into #150. At least then, the feeling of treading water would not be as evident as it is here. But I haven't read #150 in years, so we'll soon see if there's too much story there to have trimmed any fat.

And I should add that while I accuse this issue of treading water, it's not for lack of trying. The pacing is fine. The story doesn't feel overly drawn out. It fits the runtime perfectly. It's simply the afore-mentioned "part one syndrome" which afflicts it, and, as noted, there would really have been no way around that short of structuring this Doom story in an entirely different way.

Lastly, I was impressed with the showing by Doom's minions in this story -- the guys who steal the electronics from Iron Man. He was ready and waiting for them, but still they breezed in, took him out, and acquired what they came for. I'm glad Michelinie and Layton realize that Doom does not suffer fools, and that, perhaps out of all villains, his henchmen would be the most competent and canny.

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