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Iron Man #21: Review

Jul 2022
Christopher Cantwell, Angel Unzueta

Story Name:

I don't know ... maybe it was Utah

Review & Comments

4 stars

Iron Man #21 Review by (July 22, 2022)
Switchback is new but the Weapon X program is old. It uses adamantium and produced Wolverine amongst many others.

Source Control are new but Madbombs have also been around for a while. Jack Kirby introduced the idea in Captain America #193-200. The last app was the very recent Savage Avengers vol 2 #1. As the name implies the bomb sends its victims mad.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man #21 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Tony Stark is recovering from his addiction to morphine (during the conflict with Korvac) and so is travelling in a commercial airliner rather than his private jet because it's better for him not to be alone. His seat partner recognises him as Iron Man. She commends him on not harming the intelligent gorilla he fought last issue. She also remembers back to when she taught at Empire State University where 2 of her students were geniuses and 1 of them scarred his face in an accident. Tony realises she's talking about Reed Richards and Dr Doom. Meanwhile he ignores another call from Vic Martinelli (see also last issue).

But then the plane is menaced by a man who has just stolen a secure briefcase from its guard. Stark suits up as Iron Man before the villain unleashes a hail of bullets, which of course damage the plane.  The foe fires a different weapon which blasts Shellhead backwards before blowing open a hatch and diving out into the sky. Tony makes sure the plane is under control before following the bad guy who has taken some top secret weapon plans. He quickly catches up with the thief's parachute but the baddie fires adamantium shells, 1 of which pierces an ankle and damages the boot jet.

The Golden Avenger lands in a stream and limps out. He fashions a tourniquet which the armour holds in place. Then his AI BOSS summarises his situation. He daren't use his damaged boot jets for flight. His airconditioning is failing. His GPS system is out so he doesn't know where he is, but his compass is still working. But on the way down he recorded his opponent's biosignature and can tell where *he* is.

The villain sees IM approaching and prepares some traps. 1st a suspended log with a spiked metal tip slams into him. The bad guy approaches demanding Stark surrender his armour. He declares himself Switchback, a product of the Weapon X program. Our hero repulsor blasts him away, but then falls down a disguised hole in the ground where Switchback leaves him.

Tony is trapped because he can't fly or climb out. He detects Switchback still nearby, probably waiting until he can steal the armour. He's down there until night falls, and then it starts to rain threatening to drown him. Switchback returns and offers to help him up if he abandons the armour. But Stark is actually behind him and kicks him into the hole where the armour grabs him. Tony explains that he just climbed on top of his armour from where he could get out of the hole.

They 'chat'. Tony says he's been in the cave Switchback is sheltering in and discovered the plans for a Madbomb. SB says he sells weapons via a group called Source Control. He's a survivalist and uses the money to prepare for the hard times that are coming. Chat over the armour breaks apart and reassembles around its owner. Iron Man leaves telling Switchback he's sure to survive.

Days later on crutches in his New York apartment Tony has called his pal James Rhodes who still hasn't *completely* forgiven him for killing and resurrecting him when he was a mad god (#17-18). He explains about Source Control selling powerful weapons on the black market (he includes the Madbomb, but surely he stopped them getting the plans?). He intends to use his wealth to buy everything they're selling before taking them down. Rhodey is in, but Tony says they need a front man. He thinks of Vic Martinelli who's been trying to reach him. Jim says Vic called him too and apparently he'd got something Source Control want. But now he's dead.

Angel Unzueta
Angel Unzueta
Frank D'Armata
Alex Ross (Cover Penciler)
Alex Ross (Cover Inker)
Alex Ross (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes


Plus: Switchback.

> Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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