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Invincible Iron Man #14: Review

Jun 1969
Archie Goodwin, Johnny Craig

Story Name:

The Night Phantom Walks

Review & Comments

4 stars

Invincible Iron Man #14 Review by (November 21, 2012)
Review: A stellar example of how good art can save a mediocre story. Johnny Craig turns in his finest work on the title with the first three pages easily matching the best of his EC work. The story itself is a little humdrum—though the unusual Caribbean setting sets it apart from other mad scientist plots. The tale strains credibility at a few points such as the revelation that Travis Hoyt is wearing the bulky Night Phantom outfit under his normal clothes and especially when it turns out his “normal” face is a mask covering the bandaged visage of the monster—how do mouths work again? Then there’s the appearance of the Night Phantom—he looks like the Controller from the previous issues dressed for Hallowe’en as the Invisible Man. Wonder how many readers assumed it was the same guy covering his burn scars? A fun issue with some goofy bits to make it exceptional. PS Love that cover with Shellhead’s “What the--?” expression!

Comments: First appearance/origin of the Night Phantom, who doesn’t return, although a robot double will show up in issues #44-45. Story originally intended for issue #7 but postponed to this month. Characters appearing in flashbacks include Happy Hogan, Pepper Potts, the Mandarin, the Hulk robot (from issue #9), the Gladiator, the Black Knight (the bad one), and Titanium Man.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #14 Synopsis by T Vernon
Voodoo drums pierce the night, bringing terror to a small Caribbean island. Late that night, a huge figure breaks the lock at Tony Stark’s new manufacturing plant, sends the frightened guard crashing into a corner, and sets the reactor to overload, destroying the plant—that’s the account given by the catatonic guard when Tony Stark arrives to learn what happened to his latest project. As Tony and Police Inspector Christophe leave the hospital they are accosted by famous author Travis Hoyt, bitter since a plane crash cost him the use of his legs. The angry Hoyt denounces Tony for building the plant which despoiled the island paradise; Tony defends the project as providing jobs to bolster the poor nation’s struggling economy but Hoyt shrugs it off. As Tony and Christophe drive out to the plant, the millionaire hero ponders his feelings for Janice Cord (who is also visiting the island) and his track record for putting his friends in danger as Iron Man. At the disaster site, Tony discovers traces of radioactivity, suggesting a scientific explanation for the explosion (Tony has a Geiger Counter in his watch—wonder if it’s available as an iPhone app?) but on the way back the two find a huge armored figure with a bandaged face blocking the road; the monster flips the jeep into the bushes and Tony is knocked unconscious….
He awakens to the sight of Janice Cord, who discovered the wreck and brought him here to the home of her old family friend—Travis Hoyt. Hoyt refuses to host the man he blames for the death of his friend Drexel Cord and orders Tony out. Our hero returns to the crash site and recovers the briefcase with his Iron Man armor. Suiting up, he tracks the villain by his radioactive footprints….
Back at the house, Janice is upset with Hoyt for talking to Tony that way and tries to walk out. Hoyt rises from his chair and stops her, confessing his love for her and he lifts her to carry her downstairs to demonstrate his superiority to Tony Stark. She hammers at his face and is shocked to find it is a plastic mask, tearing off to reveal the bandaged visage of the Night Phantom! Below the house is a cavern with a glowing Pool of Life, where Inspector Christophe is a prisoner. Hoyt turns on the recorded jungle drums he uses to terrorize the locals while announcing his plan to murder Tony Stark. Iron Man has tracked the villain to his lair and discovered the huge loud-speakers blasting the island with the drum sounds. Inside, Hoyt describes how after his accident he became a recluse in his home until one day the floor collapsed, dumping him into the pool; his body regenerated to full health. Repeated bathings made him invulnerable but the caustic chemicals in the water corroded his skin, necessitating the Night Phantom’s bandaged look. The construction nearby has caused a small fissure at the bottom of the pool for which he blames Tony. Now he plans to dunk Janice in the magical waters so that she can be a suitable mate for him. Iron Man arrives at the point and gives battle to the Night Phantom whose overwhelming strength makes him hard to overcome. Iron Man unleashes the full power of his repulsor rays, finally injuring the villain. But while the hero is rescuing Janice and Christophe, the Night Phantom leaps into the pool to heal his injuries—and disappears with a scream. He had hit the fissure at the bottom and the pool floor gave way sending the villain to his death and draining the miraculous waters. Tony plans to rebuild but continues to brood over whether to confess his love for Janice when his life is in constant danger.

Johnny Craig
Johnny Craig
Johnny Craig (Cover Penciler)
Johnny Craig (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Sam Rosen.
Editor: Stan Lee.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Janice Cord.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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