Iron Man/Captain America 98 #1

December 1998
Mark Waid, Patrick Zircher

Story Name:

Life & Liberty

Reviews & Comments

4 stars

By Peter on November 9, 2017

Comments: Story takes place between CAP (v.3) #12 and 13 and between IRON MAN (v.3) #10 and 11; Cap has his hologram shield at this point in his career. Avengers seen in the flashback: Thor, Wasp, Vision, Giant-Man, Scarlet Witch, Wonder Man. Plot by Kurt Busiek and Roger Stern.

Review: Nice issue is a precursor of Civil War as we see the two heroes' opposing stances on the issue of individual freedom versus the greater good, leaving me with a little more respect for that epic event. The issues are laid out clearly and debated without the story feeling like it's lecturing the reader. The dynamic art by Mark Bagley is pretty exciting without cluttering the pages with too much detail (a common problem with Marvel at this point in their history). The only quibble I have is that Iron Man's mouth is too small, making him look like he's just smelled something bad—and it can't be unseen.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man and Captain America come rolling onto the shore of a Caribbean island inside a force bubble generated by Shellhead; they come immediately under fire first by automated defenses then an A.I.M. flying squadron. They work together to defeat their enemies but all is not right between them....

Flashbacks explain: Cap was fighting an A.I.M. detail in service of the villain Mentallo. Using a stasis field stolen from Reed Richards, Mentallo has been able to amplify his telepathic powers to a godlike level—and proceeds to take over the minds of everyone on Earth—with one exception: Tony Stark, whose circuitry shields him from any mental takeover. Tony's consciousness is sucked into cyberspace where he battles Mentallo; the ESPer is stronger but when Tony's Iron man identity is suddenly revealed, the villain is so surprised that Tony is able to overcome him and erase the knowledge of his identity from his mind. While connected to all minds on Earth, Tony also takes the opportunity to wipe his secret from everyone''s brains. Back in the real world Cap and SHIELD clean up the A.I.M. Base, freeing ten hostages from cryotubes but not able to understand what happened to the now-comatose Mentallo....

Flashback Part 2: Iron Man reveals his secret identity to his Avengers partners but Cap is disturbed. The star-spangled Avenger resents Tony having taken it upon himself to mess with people''s minds; the Golden Avenger argues that it was relativity harmless and all for the best. The two cannot come to agreement with Cap standing for individual freedom and Shellhead for the good of the group. They are then informed by SHIELD that the ten comatose hostages shows an aberrant pattern: Iron Man recognizes it and he and Cap head toward the Caribbean island labs of Dr. Mark Cushing. On arrival, their Quinjet is shot down, leading into page 1 of the issue....

And now, having disposed o the A.I.M. Defense forces, the two Avengers move inland and discover—Zenith City, a free and perfect society founded by the late Dr. Cushing. Cushing was a brilliant researcher for Stark who came up with Operation: Gengineering, which would give physical and mental perfection to the old and the ill—but also rob them of individuality, creating a hivemind. Leaving Stark Industries, Cushing created his perfect city on this island where a transmitter in the town spire turned the citizens into the human ideal—and then A.I.M. discovered them. Cushing chose to die rather than reveal the secrets of Gengineering to the villains and A.I.M. Took ten citizens to power Mentallo''s brain machine (seen in the flashbacks). Now MODOK knows the two Avengers are on the island and alters the treatment beam to command the citizens to destroy Cap and Iron Man. The heroes try to reach the spire and turn off the machine but MODOK uses the psionic power of the people to give himself a giant mental form. Cap uses his hologram shield to disrupt MODOK's energy matrix and Shellhead's repulsors destroy it the rest of the way. With a massive A.I.M. attack force on their way, Tony fixes the transmitter so that when it is shut down, the citizens will not die but revert to their original frail forms, robbing A.I.M. of any benefit they may get. The groupmind tells Tony they would rather be killed fighting A.I.M. than revert to what they once were. It is Cap's decision: to let the people have their way—or to make the choice for them. He throws the switch....

Epilogue One: As SHIELD takes care of the former citizens of Zenith City, Cap tells Iron Man he understands Tony's position....

Epilogue Two: Tony re-reveals his secret identity to Pepper and Happy Hogan; they feel betrayed and so Tony comes to understand Steve''s position on individual freedom....


Mark Waid
Patrick Zircher
Randy Emberlin
Tom Smith
Patrick Zircher (Cover Penciler)
Randy Emberlin (Cover Inker)
? (Cover Colorist)