Saturday, November 19, 2011

Marvel 1981 Week--Iron Man #152!

Let's see... who haven't we checked in on back in 1981?? Oh, I know:

Wait, it's an empty cover! There's no one there!

Oh, how I kid--that's Iron Man in his stealth armor!! But if you have a proper 21st century computer monitor, you can probably see him just fine.

Well, that overwrought cover-blurb ("The Now Ebon-Avenger"--really?) has given us a heads up on the plot, so let's leap right in:

Again, pretty scenery, but no hero?? (Again, I kid...)

And our creators?

One thing about the Michelinie/Layton era, they let the billionaire play with his toys. Tony has space armor, Tony has stealth armor, Tony had snow armor, Tony had deep-sea armor. The cat had almost as many costumes as Silver Age Batman!!

Another thing they loved is have Tony travel around to exotic spots, playing international man of mystery in spy intrigue games (until he screwed up and needed his alter ego to rescue him, of course). Which is why tooling around Berlin is so fitting. Back in the good old Cold War, East Berlin was communist, the West was the Good Guys, spies were thicker than thieves and the Cold War was usually at least lukewarm.

So why is Tony there? Patience. Let's look first an the installation he's trying to penetrate:

Impressive. Practically a Bond villain hide-out. But will stealth armor be enough to get Tony the info he needs? Of course not--a boy has to use more toys!

A sonic screwdriver, you say?

Oh, Tony, you know that whenever you get smug...

All of his special armors had some drawbacks, and this one is no exception:

No problem!

Well, Iron Man the info he needs...but when he tries to leave through the puny East German laser grid:

Tony, lasers have the right to be more powerful, if they want to!.

Tony limps back to an abandoned Stark Enterprises facility in the West side of the country, and we finally get a flashback reminding us why he's there:

Really, Daily Bugle? The entire front page for a spy being caught in East Germany? What, Spider-Man was on vacation?

We also learn one of Tony Stark's methods to influence government workers: BRIBES!!

"Diplomatic assault," my tush!! Hey, Tony, when you try to bribe government officials, you probably shouldn't sign your name.

(For the record, I can't tell you what Chateau Lafite Rothschild 1953 went for in 1981. In 2011, it will run you around $4,300 for a single 750ml bottle, so a case, if you could scrape one together, would be over $50,000. So yes, that would be a bribe, not a "gift.")

Meanwhile, let's check in with Bethany:

What?!? But her husband, the former West German ambassador to the United States, supposedly died in a car accident!!

You really should be asking yourself these questions BEFORE the rescue mission, not during, dear.

Anyway, the KGB got it into their heads that a former ambassador would obviously know the identities of all of NATO's espionage agents in Europe. Which proves the commies were pretty dumb, methinks.

So they tried kidnapped him, faked his death, and tried torturing him with drugs. But as he was a pretty big drug addict himself, well, that just sort of put him into a coma for a few years. So when he woke up...

Well, fortunately, Bethany's ah...ahem...boyfriend ("sorry, Alex, you were dead, bro") has found a way to sneak into the facility:

And being Tony Stark, he's suave enough (and speaks German well enough) to pull off an unlikely impersonation...

...and get access to a very important prisoner:

But surprisingly, she's not happy!

Oops. Fornicated the pet on that one, Tony. And now her plan can't work (it's complicated, don't ask). So the only solution:


Note to every girlfriend of a superhero who doesn't figure that out: Bethany Cabe suggests that you're stupid.

Next we have a weird little scene that probably plays better in you imagine a smooth-jazz soft-core porn soundtrack playing:

So enough James Bond action!! Time for Iron Man to smash things!! Like this:

And this:

So it's time to leave, and Tony's already making dinner plans...

But remember that "no right to be that powerful" laser system?

Uh oh...

[SPOILER ALERT: Iron Man did NOT die, or fall with burning finality before the unparalleled power of the Living Laser.]

[SECOND SPOILER ALERT: Iron would save Bethany and Alex, but Bethany decided she had to stay with her husband to help him recover. Exit Bethany (for awhile), and Tony cries.]

This was the end of an era. Aside from some cover work, this was Layton's last issue of Iron Man for several years; Michelinie only lasted a few more stories before he, too was gone. They'd both be back, though...


Speaking of Bond-esque spy adventures in Cold War Europe...

Oh, my. A comic adaptation of one of the most criminally underrated James Bond films, drawn by Howie Chaykin?!? Man, I got to find me this...

And speaking of the concluding chapters of movie adaptations in November 1981 by well-known comics personnel:

Raiders Of The Lost Ark?? Cover by Walt Simonson, script by Simonson, art by John Buscema and Klaus Janson?? Great, more comics I have to hunt down...


SallyP said...

Man, it's just not the same without Tony fighting commies every other week!

And incidentally, Bethany is correct, if you're dating a superhero how can you NOT know? How many times to you have to pay the dinner tab before it begins to sink in?

Stephen said...

Snell, you don't have those last two? I assumed all the comics were from your personal collection. I would like to have both of those. For Your Eyes Only was the first Bond movie I saw in the theater. Anything with Raiders and Walt Simonson would have to be awesome.

snell said...

Stephen--All the main entries for my Marvel Weeks are from my collection. Often (although not always) the "Elsewhere in the Marvel Universe" comics aren't...