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Invincible Iron Man #320: Review

Sep 1995
Terry Kavanagh, Hector Oliveira

Story Name:

Hollow Man

Review & Comments

Rating:
3 stars

Invincible Iron Man #320 Review by (April 11, 2012)
These Comment blocks are in reverse order.

Tony is worried by this blackout. But supposedly he has been having them for years, and not noticing! The figure illuminated by lightning near the end is probably Marianne Rodgers tracking Stark. But one interpretation of events in subsequent issues could suggest that it is Masque observing Bethany Cabe. See my comments on #322. This crosssover is becoming a gathering of Stark's ex-girlfriends. Marianne Rodgers was his girlfriend in #36-51. Madame Masque filled the role from #91 to #116, as Krissy Longfellow and then as herself. Bethany Cabe's first stint was #123-153.

Tony's blackouts signify times when he is under the control of Kang/Mantis. The girl who interrupts this blackout is teenage version of Crystal and Quicksilver's young daughter Luna. Since I introduced the idea of two different teenage Luna's in Avengers: The Crossing, I have to ask which one appears here. The question isn't just academic because according to my theory one of them isn't a Space Phantom. She isn't dressed like either version, so no clue there. She says "Know you didn't mean to do it. Tried to warn ... Couldn't stop you ... Others are coming already." The first 3 fragments could refer to future Luna trying to prevent Rita DeMara's murder or Kang's Luna trying to prevent Marilla's murder. The 4th part probably refers to Malachi and Tobias turning up in Avengers #392. Either of the Luna's would know about that. But I would guess that only Kang's Luna could get inside one of Stark's blackouts. In general I will conclude that all appearances by teenage Luna apart from the 1st one where she tries to warn Rita are by Kang's Luna, really a Space Phantom.

Machinesmith is a robot housing the mind of its dead inventor Samuel 'Starr' Saxon. He was last seen working for Red Skull in Captain America #420. This is the first time we see him working for Stark, and we aren't told how Stark got hold of him. Not only do we not know how Stark acquired Machinesmith, but Captain America #451 will claim that Machinesmith is still working for Red Skull. And indeed that he was involved behind the scenes in saving Cap from death in Cap #445, while the Crossing crossover was happening. I know Machinesmith is capable of switching his mind between robot bodies, but I pretty sure that isn't what's supposed to be happening here. I shall make a bid for a No-Prize by suggesting that Stark picked up an old body of Machinesmith's, e.g. the one discarded in Avengers #325, and reactivated its program to a subservient sentience, without the ability to move to another body. Or maybe this Machinesmith's just a Space Phantom, because he isn't seen outside the crossover.

In the few days since Avengers: The Crossing, Iron Man has been in Force Works #16 and Avengers #391 which are all part of the crossover. This Madame Masque turns out to be a bioduplicate of the original, going by the name Masque. It will be revealed in Avengers v3 #32 that we haven't seen the real Madame Masque since Iron Man #116. Since then she has sent bioduplicates to do her work. The 1st lasted from #138-238, when she was killed by the 2nd, who is probably still operating at this point. Masque is a 3rd copy running in parallel. Note that, due to my detailed time sequence laid out in that issue's comments, the bit of Avengers #391 where a Priest of Pama alerts the Avengers that something is amiss in Agaphaur happens after this issue. This is conveniently after the Priests find out about the problem in this issue. The vanishing of the temple will turn out to be at least partly because of Mantis's history with the place. A note here about the retcon of the Crossing crossover in Avengers Forever. The Official Index to the Marvel Universe says that Marianne Rodgers and Masque aren't Space Phantoms working for Immortus. And neither are these Priests of Pama. But the Priest in Avengers #391 was working with known Space Phantom Tuc, and with the Space Phantom Cotati in Avengers #392. And Space Phantom Moonraker says in Force Works #19 that the Priests are responsible for his presence in Force Works. This suggests to me that all the Priests of Pama in this crossover are in fact Space Phantoms.



 

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #320 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This part of the Crossing crossover continues from AVENGERS #391.

Marianne Rodgers was a girlfriend of Stark's, starting from #36. She developed psychic powers which drove her mad, and was last seen in #107. She now escapes from the Stark-owned private mental institute in California, because she has a sudden urge to see Tony Stark. (I don't remember Marianne being the accomplished athlete as she appears to be here.)

The escape is watched by a figure wearing Madame Masque's mask. It appears to me that she has something to do with Marianne's escape, but this is never made clear anywhere.

Meanwhile Priests of Pama hack through the jungles of Vietnam to find their Temple of Agaphaur gone. Note that their cry of 'Kreelara' derives from their Kree origins.

It's a few days after the Avengers reunion in Avengers: The Crossing, and Iron Man is executing a one-man war on crime in L/A. Then Stark opens a park he's paid for.

Tony contacts the Avengers' government liaison Peter Gyrich on a private line and agrees that the Avengers are getting out of control. He brushes off security chief Bethany Cabe's concerns about his secret phone calls and shutting her out.

In that lab robot Machinesmith updates Stark with progress on various projects, and has deduced how Stark intends to use them in the Starcore project. One of the projects is the so-called weather regulation process, which is probably the chronographic weapon we will learn about in Force Works #19, intended to move Earth out of its timeline. The revolutionary communications uplink is probably how the secret computer in Force Works basement will control the weapon when it is installed in the Starcore satellite.

Tony switches Machinesmith off when he gets a private call. But then fades to black, during which time he has a vision of a girl, familiar to us from Avengers: The Crossing, who again utters cryptic sentences.

When he returns to conciousness he is in his kitchen with no knowledge of how he got there. Bethany is making a meal when she sees a female outlined by a flash of lightning. Tony has gone outside to try to make sense of what's happening to him.

The Crossing continues in AVENGERS #392.

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> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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Hector Oliveira
Mark McKenna
John Kalisz
Hector Oliveira (Cover Penciler)
Mark McKenna (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Phil Felix.
Editor: Nel Yomtov.

Characters

Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Luna, Machinesmith, Marianne Rodgers, Masque.