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Invincible Iron Man #13: Review

Feb 1999
Kurt Busiek, Sean Chen

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Story Name:

A Question of Control

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Invincible Iron Man #13 Review by (December 3, 2019)
Comments: “Special thanks to Pat Zircher for drawing pages 10 & 11;” that’s the two-page recap of Controller’s origin and villainous career. Lary Stucker, Eric Cannon, and Bud LaRosa shared inking chores. Controller last appeared in IRON MAN Vol. 1 #292-293.

Review: Cute. Even the Controller lacks self-control. This classic Iron Man enemy goes way back to issue #13 of his original series and usually his appearances consist of trying to guess how Shellhead will separate him from his captives. This time around, it’s the baddie who wrecks himself by some ill-placed paranoia and jealousy. The battle scenes are rather nicely done and for some soap opera drama, there’s some complexity added to Rumiko, who started out as a wealthier Mary Jane Watson-type good-time gal but showed some unexpected depth under fire in issues #4-5. Here we find there is more on her mind, seeking independence from her controlling family. And she will be back as a romantic interest for Tony, despite what looks like the brush-off on the final page.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #13 Synopsis by T Vernon
Accompanied by Happy Hogan, Tony Stark arrives at the Basel Stress Clinic in Northern California for doctor-ordered rehab. And we’re reminded that the clinic’s director, Dr Xander Basel, is really the Controller and he has a grudge against Tony Stark….

Told by Jane Foster last issue, the electrical systems in the Iron Man armor are destroying Tony’s cells and he needs rest; now at the clinic, Tony is putting the armor through its paces by remote control, hoping to find a way to redesign it. Then Rumiko Fujikawa (Tony met her in issues #4-5) shows up, having checked herself in because she heard Tony was there and that sounded like fun….

That evening, Tony and Rumiko are in the dining room as she looks around at all the celebrities there (including a nicely drawn Courtney Cox). Dr Basel introduces himself to Tony and invites him to a conversation with some leading brains. Tony declines and Rumiko has reservations about Basel….

The next day Tony undergoes his first stress treatment, lying under twin lights, unaware that Basel/the Controller has achieved his goal. His big scheme is to bring patients under his control then sell access to that person’s mind for big bucks. Tony settles into a pattern of undergoing treatments, testing the armor, and having fun with Rumiko but the Controller, seeing “Iron Man” flying about assumes that Stark must be suspicious, so he goes into Tony’s mind at night telling him to fire Iron Man. The next day, Tony finds himself thinking about firing Iron Man, though it doesn’t make sense. Later Tony and Rumiko have a serious conversation about her need to assert her independence against her expectant family….

That night, a frustrated Controller heads out to attack “Iron Man” and Tony can’t see who the enemy is because of the dark and the distance; as the remote controls are not designed for combat, Tony has the armor fly off. The villain then subliminally orders Stark again to fire Iron Man and Rumiko to influence Tony to that end. When they meet the next day, Rumiko tells Tony to get rid of Iron Man right away, and Tony begins to suspect something is going on but she isn’t finished and wants Tony to have a hard look at himself….

That night, Rumiko sneaks into Tony’s room to find Basel’s hypnotic device working on him; she heads to the “off limits” area to investigate and is captured. The next morning, Tony awakens from an Iron Man nightmare and he goes to the “off limits” area to investigate and finds Basel holding Rumiko prisoner and a post-hypnotic suggestion makes Tony leave, forgetting what he saw. But not really, Tony is faking so he can don the armor and battle his old foe. Considering the possible cost of the dangerous armor, Tony returns to battle the Controller only to find the villain is more powerful than ever before, being hooked up to multiple minds. Rumiko spies the two armored antagonists and manages to break free, smashing up the Controller’s controls. While beating on his foe, Iron Man points out the irony that as Dr Xander Basel, he has the fame and recognition he had always wanted but he was compelled to fight Shellhead by a lack of self-control. He hurls the baddie into his own Absorbatron and it explodes….

The next day, the police take the Controller away and Rumiko asks Tony to go away with her to forget this—but he can’t and so she departs on her own….

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Sean Chen
Lary Stucker
Steve Oliff
Sean Chen (Cover Penciler)
Lary Stucker (Cover Inker)
Liquid! (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Richard Starkings.
Editor: Bobbie Chase. Editor-in-chief: Bob Harras.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Controller (Basil Sandhurst), Rumiko Fujikawa.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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