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Invincible Iron Man #20: Review

Dec 1969
Archie Goodwin, George Tuska

Story Name:

Who Serves Lucifer?

Review & Comments

4 stars

Invincible Iron Man #20 Review by (January 1, 2013)
Review: Lucifer had the potential to become a great villain—after his initial appearance where he was just a megalomaniac with a bomb. Alien invader trapped in limbo seeking to escape? Fine by me. But such was not to be—he never even faces Charles Xavier for his promised day of reckoning! The saga of Charlie Gray makes this one better than expected. Though nothing special, an issue centering on an ordinary supporting character and how his life is affected by the dealings of super powered heroes and villains makes for a nice change. Recall, that’s the premise of the classic MARVELS by Busiek and Ross decades later but that sort of human drama already had a precedent. Way to go, Archie Goodwin!

Comments: Most famous as the villain who caused Charles Xavier to lose his legs, Lucifer was introduced in UNCANNY X-MEN #9 which featured the first meeting between the X-Men and the Avengers (though the Avengers do not encounter Lucifer). X-MEN #20-21 reveals he was the advance agent of an alien race (the Quists) bent on conquering Earth. For his failure he was banished to “a nameless dimension where neither time nor space exists.” There he gained superpowers though “ionic energy” and this issue is his first attempt to escape his prison. His next attempt pits him against Captain America in CAPTAIN AMERICA (1968) #177-178 and later he is executed by his people in WEST COAST AVENGERS #24. Inker Mike Esposito is credited as Joe Gaudioso.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #20 Synopsis by T Vernon
The story opens with some flash and awe as Iron Man is absorbing the explosion of a small anti-reactor device by clutching it to his body while guards hustle Stark staff to safety. The crowd suspects this is the end for Shellhead but when he emerges unharmed from the acrid smoke cloud, everyone cheers, except for Charlie Gray.

Charlie is a security guard increasingly jealous of all the attention paid to the armored hero. The disgruntled guard heads home, bitterly complaining about his lot and snarling at his wife and kids—and lamenting that his success as a high school football star has not led to a better life. Later he walks the streets brooding—and a portal opens up revealing the alien invader Lucifer.

The villain sympathizes with Charlie, since he is also imprisoned—though in a more literal fashion—in a hidden dimension. Lucifer explains to Charlie that he has developed a dimensional transmitter, allowing limbo to overlap with our world. Overwhelming Charlie with a demonstration of his ionic energies, he endows the hapless guard with his powers and sends him to capture Tony Stark, who can create a receiver so that the alien can cross over into our dimension permanently—and conquer Earth.

Charlie, transformed into another Lucifer, exults in the terror and destruction he is able to cause before his master puts him back on the right track.

Meanwhile, Charlie’s wife Wilma Gray has been driving around looking for him and recognizes him as the rampaging bad guy. He orders her away so she drives to Stark Industries to warn them of the coming menace. Tony believes her story and dons his Iron Man armor just as Charlie/Lucifer crashes into the building.

The struggle between the two spills out into the streets with the villain’s ionic energy overwhelming Iron Man. Wilma appears and pleads with Charlie not to sacrifice her and the children for his dreams of power and vengeance. Charlie fights off Lucifer’s weakening influence and the villain’s portal closes trapping him once again in the prison dimension. As Charlie and Wilma head off, Tony broods about having a normal life himself—and now that his damaged heart is repaired, he wonders if he must really go on being Iron Man…

Story #2

The Race to Danger

Writer: ?. Penciler: ?. Inker: ?. Colorist: ?. Letterer: ?.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

By None

Story #3

Sock It to Shell-Head

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

By None

Click here to see preview

George Tuska
Mike Esposito
George Tuska (Cover Penciler)
George Tuska (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Jean Simek.
Editor: Stan Lee.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Lucifer.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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