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Invincible Iron Man #20: Review

Jan 2014
Kieron Gillen, Joe Bennett

Story Name:

Iron metropolitan part 3

Review & Comments

4 stars

Invincible Iron Man #20 Review by (January 25, 2014)
The Iron Patriot armour was designed and worn during Dark Reign by Norman Osborn. Since then copies of it have been seen in use by the good guys. But 1 was stolen by AIM in Secret Avengers and used to create an army of sentient drones (like what Stark has been recently using). James Rhodes was given another copy by SHIELD in SA#6, and he managed to convert the drones to the side of good. Since then he's continued to wear the suit in Secret Avengers, with side trips to Iron Man: Fatal Frontier and Infinity: The Heist. He also appeared in Gambit #13, but the interior illustrations had him coloured grey instead of red, white and blue, although he did have the star on his chest - and this was before he got the IP suit in SA#6. Rhodey was of course a long-term replacement Iron Man, and then War Machine. He was replacement IM again in #517-524. Since then we learned in #527 that Stark took the armour away from him (and Pepper). Until he got the IP armour. And he'll soon have his own series again.

The numbering of the rings does seem to work as I guessed last time:- 1-5 Right Thumb to Little Finger, 6-10 Left Thumb to Little Finger. And the properties and names (sort-of) are as described in 2010's Annual. The 1 we meet at the end of the issue is #9 Liar (illusion control). We hear mention of #3 Spin (super-speed). We've seen the affects of #1 Remaker (matter rearrangement). Abigail's #7 has changed its name from Incandescence to Incinerator, and upped its ante from flame blast to the power of a sun. Tony seems surprised that the rings are sentient. But surely he learnt that they contain alien intelligences in #522? Red Skull stole Prof X's brain in the 1st Uncanny Avengers arc.

The rest of the comments refer to #20:-

The rings are all named this issue, and at last we can confirm that the names are all the same as in the 2010 Annual - even Red Peril's Incinerator ring is here called by the original name Incandescence. The deployment on fingers is also the same, except Liar and Lightning are switched round, which may be an artistic mistake given that Liar was correctly numbered #9 in the main #20. Nightbringer being accused of not even having a *possible* candidate for bearer suggests that the others *have* chosen bearers but that some of then may not have contacted/activated them yet. But there is no difference in representation of the fingers. And of the 3 rings we have seen active only Incandesence has been *shown* to have a wearer, and Liar seemed to be acting independantly. Nightbringer's list of potential bearers is really just a justification for the cover image. Longshot is an alien character from the Mojoverse with a luck power. He's a long-time inhabitant of the X-Men books, most recently the X-Factor series that ended in 2013. And even more recently his own mini-series Longshot Saves the Marvel Universe. Venom is the evil symbiote that 1st appeared as Spider-Man's black costume. The latest wearer is Spider-Man's pal Flash Thompson in the recent Venom series and Thunderbolts, continuously fighting the effects of the symbiote as a government agent.

The database underpinning these websites doesn't allow for fancy issue numbers like #20.INH. And I can't just ignore the suffix because, unlike other series, there's an #20 as well as #20.INH. (We're not alone with this problem - Diamond's order form lists them both just as #20 for the same reason.) So I've decided to add a synopsis for #20.INH as a 2nd story in #20. Agustin Padilla takes over as penciller from Joe Bennett for this extra issue. The rest of the team remains the same. The Inhumanity event, like Dark Reign, doesn't have a central series and the story so far is chaotic. The only slightly recurring threads are the government gathering cocoons and AIM taking an interest. Medusa is the only public face of the Inhumans now - Karnak is dead, Black Bolt, Lockjaw and Maximus are hiding with the Illuminati, and the other famous Inhumans have been scattered who knows where in the universe. The Stark/Banner scientific rivalry has been played up in Avengers Assemble #9-11, A+X #7, Indestructible Hulk Annual #1 and its #17-18. Banner is usually portrayed with an inferiority complex, desperate to show he can cut it as a scientist. Bruce Banner *does* unsuccessfully try to solve the Terrigen problem in IH#17-18, which possibly happened before this issue. Arguably it is Stark's interference there which messes things up.

These comments refer to #20.INH:-


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #20 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Tony Stark unveiled his rebuilt Mandarin City as a model city of the future in the style he calls Troy. But his press conference, and some of the city itself, has been wrecked by a force that turned some of the rubble into a giant fist bearing a ring on its thumb.

Tony orders PR guy Marc to start evacuation, and contacts his brother Arno (in his iron lung in the Troy Information Hub) to start scanning for the Mandarin. He recognises the ring and its effects as Mandarin's Remaker.

Anti-capitalist reporter Abigail 'Red Peril' Burns was at the do. She has another of the rings, and it calls her Mandarin Seven. The ring told her that the wreckage was the work of Mandarin One. But now it informs her of Arno's scans. Abigail expects to be found and blamed. So, preferring to be condemned for things she has done, she gets her ring to give her a red (and some yellow) super-costume and attacks Stark.

Arno is ahead of the game and has already launched the Trojan Guard, a swarm of Iron Man suits controlled by AIs. Mandarin Seven's ring reacts by increasing her mental processing speed by an enormous amount, and with her permission takes control to blast loads of the Iron Men out of the sky. Burns directs the ring to do unlimited property damage but don't kill anyone.

Stark recognises this ring as the Incinerator. He reveals that he's been wearing a stealth armour all the time (in invisible mode) and joins the fray. Red Peril wants to dodge his repulsor beam, but her ring says her increased brain speed doesn't mean her body can move any faster. (Apparently Mandarin Three's Spin ring could do that.) But the ring is able to protect her instead.

She responds by generating a mini solar flare along with its e-m pulse to fry Iron Man's circuits. The drones can't survive a pulse this close, but IM's own suit is more hardened.

However Pepper Potts alerts Tony to a worse problem. The e-m pulse has shut down all nearby electrical systems, and he zooms away from the fight to rescue Arno in his depowered iron lung. Only to find that his newly-found brother had prepared for such an attack years ago.

Pepper turns up again (she can move fast, that gal) to say that Abigail Burns is in space, sitting on a satellite and uploading a video to the Internet to declare that she didn't attack Mandarin City (or at least wasn't the 1st to do so). Stark has already worked out that it was the Remaker ring that did that, not Burns' Incinerator. Someone has got hold of dead Mandarin's rings, which he thought were safely stored by SHIELD.

Iron Man is escorted to SHIELD's vault by Iron Patriot. Security is even more tight after Red Skull stole Prof X's brain. The military are concerned about Stark's attempt to change the world with his Troy cities idea. As a friend James Rhodes is more worried about how much time Tony is dedicating to the project.

When they get to the rings' storage box they appear to be all there. But Troy's AI HELEN detects that only 1 is really present. It is the Liar ring which has been projecting illusions about the others. Now that its ruse has been discovered it streaks off.

Stark realises that the rings are alive. And in space the Liar ring 9 contacts all the other rings. It advises those with current owners to go into hiding, and tells the others to find suitable agents quickly.

Story #2

#20.INH (no title given)

Writer: Kieron Gillen. Penciler: Agustin Padilla. Inker: Scott Hanna. Colorist: Guru-eFX. Editor: Mark Paniccia. Cover Penciler: Paul Rivoche. Cover Inker: Paul Rivoche. Cover Colorist: Paul Rivoche. Letterer: Joe Caramagna.

Synopsis / Summary / Plot

This is a synopsis of #20.INH:-

2 months ago 20-ish (probably) loser Victor Kohl was arguing with his dad over money. The Terrigenesis Wave had hit some time previously, and now the rest of his family were suddenly cocooned. But Victor wasn't affected. He rang 911 and the government took the cocoons away. Then he saw Medusa of the Inhumans on TV explaining that anyone with Inhuman genes would be affected by the Terrigenesis Wave, and would eventually emerge from the cocoon with superpowers. Victor took this as evidence of what he always suspected - his dad wasn't his dad.

Now, in Troy, Tony Stark is bitching to his brother Arno about Bruce Banner. He claims that he trusted Banner to solve the Terrigen problem, and left him to it, but Banner has failed as was only to be expected. Arno points out evidence that Tony himself has tried to find a solution, but Tony accuses him of spoiling 1 of his favourite pastimes - belittling Banner. And they have a more pressing problem, finding Mandarin's rings and their bearers.

In a virtual reality dubbed the Ring of Rings the rings are meeting. Only Nightbringer has no virtual finger in this space, indicating that he hasn't yet located even a possible candidate for his bearer. Nightbringer just claims to be choosy.

Arno and Tony have built a detector for the rings' energy signatures based on the 2 they've seen in action. But it isn't sensitive enough to detect them when they're not in use. Tony consoles himself with the fact that, according to Iron Patriot, the military isn't having any more success. Arno suggests sharing their detector with them, but Tony doesn't want to because it is partially derived from alien tech they got from Recorder 451 (after the Secret Origin of Tony Stark arc), and he's keeping that secret. They'll just alert the military whenever they do detect ring activity.

Nightbringer surveys and rejects some possible ringbearers:- Medusa (too committed to her own agenda), Longshot (no negative tendencies to exploit), Hulk (currently too linked to SHIELD), Venom (the Venom parasite would vie for control with the ring) and Red Skull (his new psychic powers would make him difficult to control).

Then the ring finds drunken Victor breaking into the Inhuman Nativity Center where his family's cocoons are kept. Nightbringer decides to harness Kohl's resentment of his family and the Inhumans, and chooses him to be Mandarin-Five. Victor accepts, and starts lashing out with the ring's dark energy.

Iron Man of course immediately detects this, and turns up to advise the new supervillain against using powers when drunk. The ring blinds him with anti-light, but Stark uses a satellite link to track his enemy and wound him with a laser beam. The ring teleports Victor away, leaving Iron Man to survey the damage Kohl has done to cocoons.

The ring takes his bearer to an underground cave to heal. Suddenly Victor grows his own cocoon. And immediately bursts forth as a being of black light.

But then Medusa arrives with the remains of his father's cocoon, which his vandalism destroyed. Victor is confused because he didn't change when his family did. The Inhuman Queen explains that he possibly got a lesser Terrigen dose because he lived apart from his family. And anyway different people reacted to it at different speeds (and obviously took different amounts of time to complete their transition within the cocoon - as we have seen elsewhere).

Medusa tells him that because he has killed other Inhumans (in their cocoons) he is now exiled from their community. Left alone Victor starts to blame himself for the 1st time in his life.But Nightbringer twists his anger towards Tony Stark - it's his fault because Iron Man didn't stop him. And Kohl takes on the name Exile.

Joe Bennett
Scott Hanna
Paul Rivoche (Cover Penciler)
Paul Rivoche (Cover Inker)
Paul Rivoche (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Mark Paniccia.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)

Plus: Iron Patriot (James Rhodes), Marc Kumar/Liar, Red Peril.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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