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Invincible Iron Man #323: Review

Dec 1995
Dan Abnett, Yancey Labat

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Story Name:

Innocent Eyes

Review & Comments

3 stars

Invincible Iron Man #323 Review by (April 26, 2012)
These Comment blocks are in reverse order.

I can only surmise that Marianne recognises Bethany's face from spying on her and Stark in #320. They'd never met before. Masque's method of changing appearance isn't mentioned here. The Avengers use an 'image inducer' to probe Iron Man and Luna's minds. Perhaps inspired by Nightcrawler's device of the same name, the Official Index to the Marvel Universe #9 says that Masque also uses an image inducer to affect her disguises. But Avengers v3 #32 will claim it was a natural ability. Avengers v3 #32 will tell us that Masque was an amnesiac clone of Madame Masque, who had gravitated to Stark because of Madame Masque's feelings for him. This doesn't explain why she was present (or possibly helping) when Marianne Rodgers escaped from the mental hospital in #320. However this is possibly a retcon. Without that I might construct another scenario for Masque's actions so far, that Masque *is* Bethany Cabe. Masque first appeared in California. Bethany was last seen in #320. Last issue Stark learned that she had followed him to New York. In #321 Masque joined him in New York. Mow Masque unmasks as Bethany, who isn't seen again during the crossover. I could guess that Bethany as Masque helped Marianne escape from hospital so that she could telepathically find out what was wrong with Tony. She brought her with her to New York, but had to intervene when Marianne attacked Tony. But then the plan worked in the Arctic bunker. Possibly the intention at the time the crossover was written was that this was the truth, but it got lost in the shuffle. It doesn't explain Masque's face-changing, which the retcon makes an ability of the clone. But the Official Index to the Marvel Universe says Masque uses an image inducer. The story continues directly in Avengers #393.

This issue of the Crossing crossover continues straight from War Machine #21. The fight between Hawkeye and Iron Man is disappointingly brief after the build-up in previous issues of the crossover. Their differences are too easily resolved, after hot-head Hawkeye was so incensed. Hawkeye also doesn't mention the suspected Kang connection he learned about in War Machine #21. This is the only thing that qualifies as the 'big lead' that he flew off to confront Stark with. (In that issue Black Widow cut him off before he actually said the word 'Kang'. And so far Kang has not be seen in the crossover, or mentioned by name anywhere.) We know Iron Man committed the murders and framed Hawkeye, but during blackouts controlled by Mantis. Outside of these blackouts the good side of Stark doesn't know anything about the bad side. I feel the Avengers accept Hawkeye and Iron Man too easily after the suspicions that have been flying about. At the end of the issue Iron Man has obviously been taken over again by Mantis. After this point in the crossover Iron Man will be listed as a villain, because his good side is buried until Avengers #395. This is only the 2nd time we have seen that Mantis is behind the villains, the other time being Avengers #392.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #323 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This part of the Crossing crossover continues from WAR MACHINE (1994) #21.

Hawkeye attacks Iron Man while he's out stopping crime. He has just left Black Widow, U.S.Agent and War Machine after they were attacked by cyborgs in War Machine #21. He believes Iron Man framed him in Force Works #17 for the murder of Marilla and Yellowjacket (Tita DeMara) in Avengers: The Crossing.

Iron Man easily shrugs off Hawkeye's arrows, and then convinces him that he didn't frame him. But also that he doesn't believe Hawkeye is a killer. From Stark's thoughts we know that he isn't lying.

They fly Hawkeye's Quinjet to Janet Van Dyne's estate, where the Avengers are staying after their own mansion was sealed off in Avengers #392, after Neut came through the basement door in Avengers #391. Wasp is still not an active member of the Avengers, merely their hostess while their home is unusable.

The Avengers (Crystal, Deathcry, Giant-Man, Hercules, Quicksilver and Vision) greet them both warmly, though Jan is still angry at Stark for bankrupting her as revealed last issue. (The Avengers' current leader Black Widow is of course still in the desert where Hawkeye left her.) But Crystal and Quicksilver's daughter Luna runs away from Stark.

The heroes bring each other up to date on details of what's been happening, including Swordsman (Philip Javert) recounting the abduction of the Cotati Swordsman in Avengers #392.

Hawkeye, Hercules and Vision are worried about Luna's recent behaviour, even though she won't tell them what's bothering her. They want to probe her mind, but her parents object. Iron Man offers to have his own mind probed for the day of the party in Avengers: The Crossing. The image inducer shows only the innocuous events of his day. But when they reluctantly probe little Luna's mind, she shows them Iron Man killing Rita DeMara.

Iron Man suddenly turns on the other Avengers. And in her citadel Mantis is triumphant.

Meanwhile, in Stark's Arctic bunker, Marianne Rodgers and Masque are being guarded by Machinesmith since last issue, after Masque stopped Marianne from psionically attacking Stark in #321. Stark lumbered Marianne with a psionic inhibitor which stops her telekinesis but not her telepathy.

Masque reveals herself as Bethany Cabe to Marianne while Machinesmith is out of the room reporting to Stark. They swap identities. Masque's mask and headpiece hide Marianne's face and psionic inhibitor. Masque takes on Marianne's appearance, without any explanation as to how. Masque, as Marianne, uses martial arts to disable the robotic Machinesmith, but not before Marianne, as Masque, is accidentally KO'd by a taser.

Masque takes back her mask and appearance, dresses warmly, and heads out into the Arctic waste.

The Crossing continues in AVENGERS #393.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Yancey Labat
Rey Garcia
John Kalisz
Jim Cheung (Cover Penciler)
Mark McKenna (Cover Inker)
Plot: . Letterer: Phil Felix.
Editor: Nel Yomtov.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Clint Barton)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)

(Pietro Maximoff)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Deathcry (Sharra Neramani), Giant-Man (Scott Lang), Luna, Machinesmith, Marianne Rodgers, Masque, Swordsman (Philip Javert).

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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