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Invincible Iron Man #39: Review

Jul 1971
Gerry Conway, Herb Trimpe

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Story Name:

A Twist of Memory, a Turn of Mind

Review & Comments

1.5 stars

Invincible Iron Man #39 Review by (May 22, 2013)
Review: What if the Mandarin was an idiot—and knew it? That’s the premise of the White Dragon, a pseudo-Asian megalomaniac with sketchy past who is constantly battling self-esteem issues. His sinister scheme involves hypnotizing Tony Stark into building “imploding bullets” whose purpose is never made clear. Meanwhile, Tony thinks he’s a method actor who won’t drop character until the DVD commentary—and overdoes it by snubbing Jasper Sitwell. Later he falls out of the sky not once but twice, making him look like a loser. And the Avengers fare no better: they spot villains dragging Iron Man away, so they chase them off—not capturing or even following them. Then they question Tony in a hostile manner, as though he had ruined their busy day by being in danger; finally, when he snarls at them, they let him go, even though he was just in a fight, fell from the sky, and is now acting like a stroke victim. “We’ll let him sort out his own business, guys.” Wait, even though there are clearly witnesses to Stark’s car going into the river, no one ever seems to find out about it or come to investigate? You’d think a car crashing into a river would excite some notice, and that discovering from the license plate it was Tony Stark’s would set off some alarms. But no; no one ever realizes he was gone. And why does no one but Kevin see Iron Man plummet to the ground in front of Stark Industries, even though it’s broad daylight? Are the workers chained to desks in windowless cubicles? Has the security team been laid off because Iron Man can (almost) handle anything? Rushed art by Herb Trimpe (pencils and inks) suggests he was a last-minute fill-in and his style does not suit Iron Man at all. Though note the final page, one full classic bwa-ha-ha moment!

Comments: Part one of a two-part story. Kevin O’Brien’s name now seems to be officially spelled “O’Brian.” This White Dragon is no relation to the martial artist baddie introduced in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #184 who later returned during DARK REIGN. Avengers appearing briefly are Captain America, Thor, Falcon, Goliath (Clint Barton). Frankie Majors from last issue appears in a single panel—and that’s it for him.

Invincible Iron Man #39 Review by (May 22, 2013)
The Avengers team involved here is not the regular group at the time. Goliath is the only full-time member. Captain America, Iron Man and Thor are frequent guest stars, but Falcon isn't. However this team is the one that appears in Avengers #88, which the Official Index and Marvel Continuity project say occurs in the week between Stark being captured by White Dragon and his visit to Avengers Mansion. I presume Av#88 happens just before the Avengers Mansion stuff here, which explains why Falcon's still around. Indeed the Official Index omits the bit about Iron Man flying to the Mansion, allowing the action to follow directly from Av#88. The strange team in Av#88 was assembled for 2 reasons. Falcon was involved in an initial flashback which led to the main story. The other regular Avengers (Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch and Vision) were busy with something else, which would be followed up on in Av#89, leading to the famous Kree/Skrull War epic.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #39 Synopsis by T Vernon
At a midtown hospital, Tony Stark sits by the bedside of Jasper Sitwell, who was shot down by the Spymaster at the end of issue #34 (though the footnote says #35). Tony broods over not saving Jasper that day as Iron Man but he must pretend to the doctor that he is merely a self-centered playboy and he doesn’t care for the wounded man at all. As he drives home he is overcome by gas in his car and the vehicle runs off the highway and into the East River. There Tony is rescued by a pair of divers, the bickering baddies Kreol and Davina who bring the unconscious millionaire to a mysterious submarine—the base of the White Dragon! The White Dragon is a minion of the Council of Nine who is in disgrace for some past screw-up. He hopes to redeem himself by this latest scheme, and his lover Shara-Lee, whose father is head of the Council, assures him that this will win him reinstatement to their good graces. The villain orders Tony placed in the Transcriber and….
A short time later, Kevin O’Brien is concerned that Tony Stark is not acting like himself and goes to see his boss; Tony gives him plans to build a new imploding bullet—even though he had told Kevin the company would be cutting back on weapons projects. Tony also has recurring headaches and a strange Asian tailor at his side…
A week later, Iron Man is flying toward Avengers Mansion for a meeting; he tries to sort out his thoughts but everything has been hazy since he visited Jasper in the hospital—and there are still these headaches. In his submarine base, White Dragon discovers that the tracking device implanted in Stark’s head is no longer working (he doesn’t know that the signal is being blocked by Shellhead’s…um, shell head). The only thing the villain can conclude is that somehow Stark discovered the device and has managed to nullify it and is likely sending agents against him. As if in confirmation, his view screens show Iron Man over the river. Immediately on his order, missiles are fired into the sky; each one opens to reveal an armored warrior on a jet pack. They attack our hero who holds his own even though his head is aching severely—until they manage to concentrate their fire and shoot Iron Man out of the sky. As the hero crashes to the Earth, the Avengers appear and drive off the baddies. The heroes then demand to know from Iron Man what is going on but Shellhead can only brush them off and head home. Captain America suggests leaving him alone and they depart. Meanwhile, White Dragon is cursing out his agents for fouling up his plan to use the mind-controlled Tony Stark to infiltrate the Defense Department. He then gives the order to destroy the device in Stark’s skull, killing him. This is triggered—and Iron Man plunges to the ground outside his factory. Kevin O’Brien investigates and finds the unconscious hero. Cursing his fate to have to take care of a wounded millionaire he drags Iron Man to safety. Elsewhere, the timing of the hero’s fall has led White Dragon to put two and two together and, surprisingly, reach four: Tony Stark is Iron Man! 

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Herb Trimpe
Herb Trimpe
Herb Trimpe (Cover Penciler)
Herb Trimpe (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Art Simek.
Editor: Stan Lee.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Sam Wilson)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)


Plus: Goliath (Clint Barton), Jasper Sitwell, Kevin O'Brien.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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