IRON MAN v1 #301-400 (1994-1996)
«Crash and Burn» starts here! Deathlok is after SE because some of his design work was sold to Stane International and turned into weapons’ systems! And, since Stane was absorbed by SE back in IM #283 (remember that deal Shellhead forced Justin Hammer to make?)…! As a matter of fact, global headlines detail how Stark Enterprises has been involved in crooked dealings all over! A…hacker was responsible…? Didn’t Marcy Pearson contact a hacker recently?
«Crash and Burn» continues! This time Venom is after Tony Stark for his supposed crooked business dealings! Great suspense and action sequences that’ll leave you at the edge of your seat! Kaminski has mastered Venom’s demented sense of «justice» (and his nutty dialogue) and Kev’s pencils are top-notch here (too bad Wiacek isn’t inking him, though)! HUH? dept.: The IM on page 14 panel 3 is almost an exact duplicate of #301’s cover! (OK, so I’m too observant sometimes!)
«Crash and Burn» rocks on, this time with The New Warriors taking on SE’s apparent greedy corporatehood. The story goes back and forth between Tony’s present convo with Steve Rogers (Capt. America) and flashbacks of IM’s battle against the NW! Great use of the Modular Armor’s capabilities. Awesome cover design, too!
Crash and Burn» keeps flaming as Thunderstrike appears on the battlefield recently occupied by IM and the New Warriors! He built the dam that the NW wanted destroyed (last ish), so of course he has to settle things with his fists! The dialogue is more skittish than the Kaminski norm, but the first-ever appearance of the Hulk-Buster Armor makes up for this! Extra ‘pulsor for this tidbit, too
The Hulk shows up at a Nevada SE factory (formerly owned by Stane — why else would the Hulk and everyone else who has been at IM’s throat lately be so otherwise ticked off?) to prevent the manufacture of gamma bombs. It’s heavyweight action as the Hulk-Buster Armor pummels the Jade Giant left and right! Unfortunately, all the Hulk wanted to do was talk! Go figure! In a small semi-related segment, Bethany Cabe goes after the hacker responsible for SE’s recent bad press!
«Crash and Burn» is over, and Tony Stark does what needs to be done to revamp his company! He orders drastic reorganization, and even hires the hacker responsible for his current predicament (on Abe Zimmer’s recommendation)! Marcy Pearson finally gets her just desserts for her anti-Stark activities! Classic Moment: A tabloid headline stating «Stark Enterprises Shocker! Iron Man is Space Alien» (featuring a pic of a Skrull in the IM armor)!! Kev Hopgood’s last ish, unfortunately.
Tony Stark goes after the «person» who’s been meddling in his affairs from inside the world computer network! Unfortunately, it is no «person,» it is the malevolent program known as VOR/TEX! Decent battle scenes in cyberspace; the only drawback is Tom Morgan’s hurried, cartoony art. VOR/TEX eventually succeeds in uploading itself into Stark’s body!
Tony Stark’s consciousness struggles to get out of cyberspace while VOR/TEX uses Stark’s body to wreak havoc! VOR/TEX dons the IM armor to murder those who created him….but with the assistance of Philip Grant (the hacker who Stark hired), Tony uploads himself into a prototype telepresence unit to tackle VOR/TEX!
It’s Tony Stark vs. Tony Stark as the mind of Stark battles his body (controlled by VOR/TEX)!! When Tony finally gets a chance to upload himself back into his own body, he realizes he’s — drunk!! Way-cool script by Len detailing how a mere computer program cannot cope with human emotions and senses; too bad Morgan’s art doesn’t compliment it the way it deserves. Oh yeah, the Mandarin is back!!
Continued from last ish and War Machine #8: Rhodey needs the specs to the War Machine armor after it’s damaged, but Tony refuses! They continue their battle from WM #8, going back and forth, until Beth Cabe zaps ‘em with an EMP gun! Too bad, too, ‘cause the Mandarin shows up just as the duo are helpless!! Lame Morgan artwork is really a let-down here.
Part 3 of the «Hands of the Mandarin» epic (the arc also twisted its way through Force Works and War Machine), Len’s overly drawn-out Mandarin super-story. In this segment, Mandy tortures the crap out of Tony, and finally discovers — «Just as I often suspected» — that Stark is Iron Man. Will Force Works arrive in time to save Tony’s hide?
Conclusion of «Hands of the Mandarin!» Iron Man and Force Works try to find a way to defeat the apparently omnipotent Mandy…and they do with the help of old friends Dr. Su Yin and Suzi Endo! Clearly leaves the «door open» for a Mandy comeback, and Tony and Rhodey finally make up! Thank God Morgan has someone inking him here, which makes him bearable.
Tony Stark attends a meeting at Alcoholics Anonymous! Convenient vehicle for a flashback issue. Tony almost hooks up with Bethany Cabe, too!
Decent tip of the hat to Asimov’s «Fantastic Voyage» as Iron Man journeys into the body of Captain America to implant a device which will counter the effects of an aging Super-Soldier serum. There are also set-ups for Len’s last issues including happenings in Russia and an old acquaintance of Tony.
Iron Man is summoned to halt an experiment gone awry at a lab run by Tony’s old mentor, Ted Slaught. Apparently Ted is exhibiting the beginning stages of Alzheimer’s disease. Later, Tony heads to Russia to inaugurate the opening of an SE plant there — but the Titanium Man plans on stopping him! Featuring the Black Widow!
It’s Iron Man vs. Titanium Man with the Black Widow in the middle! And Russia’s top generals decide it’s time for another to enter the fray — the Crimson Dynamo! Cool new design of the Dynamo armor; again, too bad it’s Tom Morgan drawing it. Cool action sequences would be top-notch if someone else had the pencils!
Tony Stark dons the Crimson Dynamo armor to take on the Titanium Man (with Valentin Shatalov controlling most of the Dynamo, however)! Cold War political arguments dominate the discourse, with T-Man obstinate as ever….leading to the Dynamo using a new «fusioncaster» to kill Boris Bullski! Unrelated story on the opposite side of the ish (a «flip-book»).
A sad farewell to Len Kaminski….Ted Slaught, Tony’s former teacher/mentor, has been turned into Slag, thanks to an accident at his lab. Other than the interesting flashbacks to Tony’s college days (check out that «S» monogramed sportscoat!) the issue is a wash. However, cool glimpse of the «Arctic Armor» on page 29!
Oh oh — look out! The beginning of the end for Tony Stark! The mess known as «The Crossing» has its roots here as Tony Stark is revealed to be a «mole» for Kang the Conqueror (as any Iron Fan worth his salt knows)!! Tony is obviously going through some inner «conflict» as he yearns for some items of his past. Bonus pts.: He hooks up with Bethany Cabe! Minus pts.: The «Retro Armor» debuts — a definite step back.
Mysteries abound — Marianne Rodgers escapes from her hospital while Madame Masque looks on….? Bald-headed dudes looking for a Kree temple in Vietnam? Machinesmith — in the employ of Stark? Whoa. Kavanagh tries to gives IM a Daredevil-ish feel (helping out the average guy around town), but it doesn’t fit at all. The Crossing mess continues….(but hey, the art is pretty decent).
More Crossing mumbo-jumbo as Tony Stark tries to figure out just what the heck is wrong with him. It appears he figures out it is he who is behind the mysterious deaths at Avengers Mansion, but then Marianne Rodgers attacks (remember her?)!! Featuring the enigmatic Masque!
More nebulous Crossing crap….Stark tries to figure out what’s wrong with him (sound similar to last ish?), Marianne Rodgers and Masque keep Machinesmith company, Hawkeye, US Agent and War Machine pow-wow and Iron Man battles Neut, a Kang lackey. Hmm.
Iron Man v1 #323
The Crossing 11/21: Innocent eyes
Fecha: 1995.12| Créditos: Terry Kavanagh, Dan Abnett (Guiones), Yancey Labat, Hector Oliveira, Jim Cheung (Dibujos)| Edición española: IRON MAN (v3) #4.
Hawkeye attacks Shellhead ‘cause he’s ticked that IM set him up for the murders at Avengers Mansion. Well, they reconcile somewhat…. If any of you can figure out what the hell is going on between Masque, Rodgers and Machinesmith, please e-mail me!! Oh — at the end of this ish, Iron Man tells all of the Avengers that «You all must die!» How ‘bout that?!
Ah yes, the Crossing continues….this time the Avengers track down big bad Tony Stark to his Arctic Bunker…and they launch an assault on it! Decent art makes this issue bearable despite the way overly-convoluted plot.
Iron Man v1 #325
The Crossing 20/21: Face to face
Fecha: 1996.02| Créditos: Terry Kavanagh, Dan Abnett (Guiones), Hector Collazo, Jim Cheung, Jim Calafiore (Dibujos)| Edición española: IRON MAN (v3) #6.
Here he is — young Tony Stark, snatched from 10 years ago in Avengers: Timeslide, tries to help the Avengers develop a plan to thwart «evil» Tony Stark! If you’ve read Avengers Forever you’ll know the Crossing mess is now moot, but the young Stark question remains unanswered. Calafiore’s art is pretty darn good (like his painted cover), culminating with «evil» Stark yanking young Stark’s heart out! Cool-looking «Ultra Man-ish» armor makes it debut, too.
Brace yourself, folks — it’s 19 year-old Tony Stark on campus at Columbia University — and this genius cannot read a map!! Miserable idea (young Tony Stark) coupled with a miserable story and miserable art equals a miserable issue! One exception: neat painted cover.
Continuity suffers yet again as young Stark confronts his former squeeze Meredith McCall (never mind that she became one of the Masters of Silence in IM Annual #14!!) and her husband who becomes a poor knock-off of Jack Frost. Yuck.
Young Tony Stark’s armor remains in flux (don’t try to figure out all the new accessories — you’ll drive yourself nuts) changing form every issue. This clearly indicates no one cares about this book anymore and are just putting out issues for sales’ sake (however small sales were at this point). Neat computer-generated IM mask on the cover, however.
Tony Stark — fraternity prankster!! Tony Stark — fraternity booze chugger!! All this and he wears armor, too! Ugh.
Abe Zimmer goes undercover to secure the secret of the Iron Man armor, while [young] Tony Stark gets together with Jim Rhodes (aka War Machine). Enter: Stockpile, a group of baddies led by…Morgan Stark! OK, I’ll buy that he survived that car accident from the early #290s, but tell me if you can figure out his explanation
It’s Iron Man and War Machine vs. Stockpile! Decent action makes this issue at least bearable, although — again — trying to make sense out of the plot continuity will drive you bonkers.
Say «goodnight» Gracie! It’s the final volume one issue of Iron Man as Onslaught is well underway. A sad farewell to Shellhead.