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Invincible Iron Man #45: Review

Mar 1972
Gary Friedrich, George Tuska

Story Name:

Beneath the Armor Beats a Heart

Review & Comments

3 stars

Invincible Iron Man #45 Review by (July 2, 2013)
And now, “Iron Man Fights a Huge Robot in a Small Apartment—Part 2!” Really, that’s all there is to it. Anyway, a new writer, Gary Friedrich, takes over for two issues, and it looks like here just to clear out the old to make way for some new. And how does he start? With a Beatles song! He came in through the boardroom window! Protected by a shining suit! Kevin the Guardsman literally crashes the party to offer his services to the bad old board in defeating Tony Stark! Kev’s insane jealousy turning him into a supervillain strains credulity but it was apparently the best they could come up with as a pretext for having the two friends fight. Mind you, a guy who doesn’t think to use a door is not a dire threat but that’s what we’re given. Meanwhile, they reached all that way back to 1968 for a dramatic backdrop—anti-war protests! But then this is the company that created the ultimate fad character—Dazzler—years after the fad had passed—and kept her around forever! And the issue ends on a less-than—climactic moment, suggesting the previous story ran over the page limit and they had to push this one off into the next ish. And that’s where things get weird…. Biggest unanswered question: why didn’t they put the end to the Kline/Night Phantom story at the end of the previous issue instead of the Ant-Man saga?

Review/Commentary: So what happened to Mister Kline/the Assassin that led to his comically abrupt departure from this issue? Well, in DAREDEVIL #84, Kline approaches the Black Widow in Switzerland claiming to be a doctor who has discovered a cure for blindness; Natasha calls Matt to come meet her. There, Daredevil learns that Kline/the Assassin is an android, sent back from the 50th century by his master Baal who is a massive computer which gained sentience and will be the sole ruler of Earth (officially Earth-711042); Kline’s mission was to mess with the timeline to prevent certain threats to Baal’s future posed by DD and Iron Man. During the battle with Kline, two of the Final Sons of Men, rising in the wake of the death of Baal, have come back to tie up the last loose ends, and they destroy Kline. Biggest unanswered question: Why would Foggy Nelson being elected Governor of New York in 1971 affect anything on Earth in the 50th century? In this context, the current Iron Man issues make even less sense: what did fighting a robot double of one of his more obscure foes have to do with the epic Terminator/science fiction plot that DD #84 only hints at? A plot so fragmented that it makes no sense at all and just comes across as a random series of adventures until writer Gerry Conway chose to end it by dumping an overly complicated time travel epic on an overwhelmed reader—with no hints of this given in Iron Man’s book?

Comments: Final appearance of Mister Kline in this title. First appearance of Simon Gilbert, father of Firebrand (though that has not yet been revealed) and future love interest Roxanne (to be introduced in issue #59). Kevin uses the name Guardsman for the first time.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #45 Synopsis by T Vernon
The Night Phantom stands revealed as one of Mister Kline’s robots. Iron Man appeals to Marianne Rodgers to save herself, but she refuses, having sensed that under the golden armor is her beloved Tony Stark. Tony, thrilled that she loves him despite his being the fearsome Iron Man, hits his power booster and—allows the monster to think it has killed him. Once the android has left the room, Shellhead attacks it from behind and destroys it. Meanwhile at Stark Industries, board chairman Simon Gilbert secures a vote of no confidence in Tony Stark and is chosen to be the new company president. Mister Kline watches and decides that Stark being stripped of industrial power is good enough. Here a footnote informs us that Kline perished in DAREDEVIL #84. So it goes.
New story starts here: Tony comes to terms with the possibility he may be dying, planning to spend his last days with Marianne; Marianne in turn hopes Tony will propose; Kevin O’Brien, obsessed with Marianne, finds himself plotting Tony’s death. That evening, Tony learns of the vote of no confidence moments before Marianne arrives; he confesses his love for her and asks her to marry him—just as Kevin walks in, and the sight drives him to rage….
Later, as the Board debates the best means of getting rid of Tony Stark, Kevin arrives in the Guardsman armor and volunteers to aid them against Stark and Iron Man. Anti-war protestors gather outside the building and Simon Gilbert tells Guardsman to chase them off as a test of his abilities. At home, Marianne suddenly has a premonition of trouble at the factory so Tony dons his Iron Man armor and heads there. At the factory, Guardsman is pelted with garbage by the demonstrators and responds with a blast of repulsor ray but his unfamiliarity with the suit’s weaponry leads to the apparent deaths of four youths. (We’re told next issue that they aren’t dead.) Iron Man arrives just as the mob turns ugly now that they have martyrs to the cause. Up in the boardroom, Simon Gilbert gloats that this is what they needed to defeat Stark; pleased, he hires Guardsman to be the company’s new superhero representative. In the streets, Iron Man tries to reason with the protestors but, getting nowhere, he jets off. A Molotov cocktail hits Guardsman in the chest and the suddenly aggressive Kevin drives them off with blasts over their heads. The police arrive and they all scatter. Iron Man enters the boardroom and confronts Gilbert; Guardsman stands up for the Chairman and attacks his former friend. Realizing that Kevin has gone mad with power, he unleashes a blast that scrambles the suits circuits and heads outside. There he finds the protestors have returned in force and the police have barricaded the building. The mob gets violent, pelting the cops with stones and a brick hits Iron Man in the head….

George Tuska
Vince Colletta
Gil Kane (Cover Penciler)
Frank Giacoia (Cover Inker)
John Romita (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Art Simek.
Editor: Stan Lee.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Guardsman (Kevin O'Brien), Marianne Rodgers, Mister Kline, Simon Gilbert.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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