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Invincible Iron Man #27: Review

Jul 1970
Archie Goodwin, Don Heck

Story Name:

The Fury of the Firebrand

Review & Comments

4 stars

Invincible Iron Man #27 Review by (February 20, 2013)
Review: Hearken back to the late 1960s: protests and violence were in the air. Martin Luther King was advocating social change through peaceful resistance while the Black Panthers were calling for armed revolution. And so Marvel had Iron Man step into the middle of a thorny socio-political issue: how much violence is acceptable in achieving one’s ideals? Not surprisingly, Archie Goodwin issues a call for peace and negotiation—which would just mark him as part of the oppressive establishment in the eyes of anyone who needed the message. Which goes to show how difficult things can be. Firebrand made for a nasty villain even though he was more of a straw man for a position than a real character, and he would be back. The story itself is framed in rather broad terms but for the intended audience this was a bracing dose of reality and relevance comics usually avoided.

Comments: First appearance of the original Firebrand, Gary Gilbert; he appears in several Iron Man issues over the next few years and is killed by the Scourge of the Underworld in CAPTAIN AMERICA #319.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #27 Synopsis by T Vernon
At a construction site in Bay City , costumed villain Firebrand burns through the locked gate and admits members of a radical group who are protesting the site’s project. He advises the militants to fight for what they want, but they set up camp and occupy the area in a peaceful move. The next day Iron Man arrives at the site for the groundbreaking for a new community center sponsored by Tony Stark’s Iron Man Foundation, along with Eddie March who will be the center’s director. They are met by City Councilman Lyle Bradshaw who is confronting the protestors who oppose the center. Bradshaw orders the police to clear the radicals out but Iron Man insists on talking to them first. As he and Eddie approach the occupiers, Firebrand jets down and denounces the Armored Avenger as an establishment tool and Eddie as an Uncle Tom and demands a violent reaction. Iron Man, nervous at the thermo-burst weaponry on the villain’s costume, tries to apprehend Firebrand and this sparks a riot as the agitator intended. In the fracas, Eddie rescues a young woman, Helene Davis, and carries her to safety while Iron Man pursues Firebrand. In a rooftop confrontation, Firebrand burns through the roof dropping the hero into the now blazing building. Firebrand takes the opportunity to explain himself: he was a peaceful advocate for civil rights but the violent reactions of the authorities convinced him that a violent response is the only effective means to social change, so he enrolled in one of Tony Stark’s training programs and used the tech know-how to construct the deadly thermo-blast suit. Knowing the hero’s jet boots are damaged, Firebrand takes off. Iron Man puts out the fire and returns to the construction site and advises Councilman Bradshaw to agree to a twelve-hour cooling off period. Meanwhile, Eddie March and Helene Davis have been discussing the center and she believes that the money put into it would be better spent starting businesses and creating jobs in the community; Eddie, who had been questioning the project himself, agrees and they meet in Bradshaw’s office to broach the question. Bradshaw refuses to give in to the protestors—and Firebrand bursts through the window, snatches up the Councilman, and makes his getaway. In the aftermath, a discovery is made: papers in Bradshaw’s office reveal he is secretly the owner of the construction firms and building the center will make him rich. Back at the site, the tense standoff between the police and the radicals continues. Iron Man arrives and, counting that Firebrand will hesitate to kill Bradshaw, seizes the opportunity to blast him with repulsor rays. The villain escapes and Iron Man quells any further violence by explaining Bradshaw’s true interest to the protestor and police alike. The building project is cancelled and Eddie is offered a position with the Iron Man Foundation. The hero ends the tale by brooding about how society went wrong that it created someone like Firebrand in the first place….

Don Heck
Jean Simek
Marie Severin (Cover Penciler)
Joe Sinnott (Cover Inker)
Marie Severin (Cover Colorist)

Editor: Stan Lee.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Eddie March, Firebrand.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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