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Iron Man #25: Review

Nov 2022
Christopher Cantwell, Angel Unzueta

Story Name:

A hero and a friend

Review & Comments

4 stars

Iron Man #25 Review by (November 18, 2022)
This is the last issue of the series and also has legacy number #650. It's an extra-large anniversary issue with 4 stories, although the 4th one is really a short 'trailer' for the next series. The middle 2 stories are set in Iron Man's past.

Sleepwalker is a dream policeman from the Mindscape who got trapped on Earth sharing the body of young Rick Sheridan. They had their own series in the 90's and have popped up many times since then, including in their own Infinity Wars mini-series.
Dream Murderer is a new char who doesn't even appear in this issue.

Daddy's Boys is set during the 2015-16 Invincible Iron Man series.
Thor at that time was deemed unworthy, and Jane Foster wielded Mjolnir as the female Thor.
But IM never had an AI called BRIAN.
Apparently creators Ayodele and Akande will be back in 2023 doing I Am Iron Man.

Battle Behind The Bamboo Curtain purports to be contents of the non-existent Tales Of Suspense #126. TOS ended with #99 and Iron Man vol 1 started after the 1-shot Iron Man & Sub-Mariner, so TOS#126 would presumably be published at the same time as IM#26. And this tale does have an editorial reference to IM#21.
This is an 'imaginary' tale but I can estimate where it would have fitted in Marvel history.
Mandarin was Iron Man's main villain last seen in IM#9-11.
Senator Byrd was a long-standing thorn in Tony Stark's side in TOS. He had a cameo in IM#10 above.
Madame Masque was a villain who was also involved in her civilian identity Whitney Frost in a romantic triangle with Tony Stark and SHIELD Agent Jasper Sitwell. She was last seen in IM#24 and will return in an IM/Daredevil crossover involving the Zodiac Key.
Radioactive Man was previously a Thor and Avengers villain here between 2 apps of the 2nd Masters Of Evil in Av#54-55 and Av#83 (that team's only apps).

Duggan and Frigeri from the 4th 'story' will be the creators of the next Iron Man series.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man #25 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
At the beginning of this series Tony Stark removed himself from Stark Unlimited. Then he had a long battle with Korvac alongside allies War Machine, Hellcat and a group who became known as his Space Friends. When that was over he proposed to Patsy Walker but she gently turned him down and left for San Francisco. Latterly he's spent most of his money buying up all the super-weapons auctioned by Source Control, and closed them down with help from War Machine and Ironheart. 1 of those weapons was Mandarin's Rings which he's reluctantly allowed Riri Williams to keep to try to turn to peaceful uses.

Now New York has declared an Iron Man Day to celebrate Tony recovering from his coma (#23-24), which the public don't know was actually faked so he could go after Source Control undercover. James Rhodes and Bethany Cabe survey the huge warehouse full of the weapons Stark acquired, which Beth is charged with guarding while Tony reverse engineers them before destroying them. They're wondering how many years that will take. We also see Riri experimenting with the Rings. And Hellcat in SanFran using her reawakened demonic powers to help Sleepwalker deal with something called the Dream Murderer who's turned ghosts from Alcatraz into killers.

Stark is supposed to give a speech at the edge of Central Park but he's currently hovering overhead as Iron Man with no idea what he's going to say. He can see mobs of his fans and his detractors held back by barriers and police. He flies over the Park's Castle greeted by some young kids high on something. Then he lands and delays the inevitable by choosing to walk back to the 79th St site. Only to fly off again when he gets near it.

He finds the streets free of cars in preparation for a parade. He enters a subway and finds that deserted too. Except for a man collapsed on the opposite platform. He jets across and detects that the man is unconscious and has probably had a heart attack. IM's AI BOSS calls for an ambulance while Tony amplifies his voice in vain to attract any nearby help. He considers flying the patient to hospital but fears it might kill him. BOSS confirms the heart attack and the man's pulse stops. Tony takes off an Iron gauntlet and tries artificial respiration. When that doesn't work he uses his other glove to administer an electric shock. After a 2nd one the man briefly wakes, but then relapses. Desperate Iron Man then *does* fly the man to a hospital emergency room where he's treated. He waits still in armour until a medic comes to tell him the patient died.

Meanwhile at the Iron Man Day site the MC is apologising that IM must be delayed doing something heroic. In fact he's wandering past the temptations of pubs ready to drown his sorrows. But Hellcat pops up and snaps him out of it. Patsy heard what happened over EMT scanners and now commiserates with him. Then she drags him to Avengers Mansion where she says she and some of his other friends are gathered because they figured he'd be conflicted about the Day. We see Bethany, Rhodey and Riri. And a couple of the Space Friends Frog-Man and Gargoyle. And (sometime-)Avengers Captain America, Spider-Man, Thing and Thor.

Story 2:- Daddy's boys

Writer Murewa Ayodele. Artist Dotun Akande.

The tale opens with Iron Man unconscious and trapped in snow in a blizzard (as zebras trot past with their breath freezing). On the 2nd day the armour's AI BRIAN charges it up and starts reviving Tony Stark's body. On the 3rd day Tony wakes up and bursts free of the snowdrift. But the IM suit isn't functioning properly, his boot jets are out and he has no comms.

He's apparently looking for someone here in Jotunheim, home of the Asgardian Frost Giants and he has 4 days left to find them. It takes him 3 days to battle through the continuing blizzard. Along the way he regales BRIAN with a tale of how Hulk once propelled himself into the air powered by a gamma fart. After the 15th repeat BRIAN suggests he may be delirious.

Then he's confronted by a sword-wielding lifesize mobile statue of a Frost Giant. Apparently Stark has been trudging through the Lake Of Frozen Tears and no god is allowed to go any further. Tony protests that he isn't a god but the statue won't believe him. After BRIAN assures him the statue isn't alive he blasts it to pieces with his chest uni-beam.

On the last possible day he arrives at his destination, and BRIAN tells him that his armour is now fully charged. Iron Man uses the statue's head to break through a giant door. Inside the castle he finds Thor with 1 of his 2 large goats. The head sings the praises of the Odinson because apparently Loki has enchanted it with a crush on his brother. IM says he's here to answer Thor's distress signal which Thor now denies sending. Stark looks round for the usual villain who has lured them into his trap, but there isn't 1. Tony now admits that he's got implants in most Avengers which alert him to any unusual situation. And the Odinson hasn't been in Midgard for a while and more significantly hasn't drunk alcohol for a month. So IM's here to rescue him from obvious captivity, or death.

Thor reminds Tony that he's no longer worthy to bear Mjolnir, and someone else now wields it. Stark says he can whip up a substitute that can give him back the powers of flight and lightning. Thor reminds him that his father Odin trapped the God Tempest in a chunk of Uru metal which the Dwarves then forged into Mjolnir. That hammer then chose *him* as its bearer. So no alternative will feel right. Tony understands and explains how he keeps returning to the arc reactor as the power source for his armour - the reactor that was designed by his father Howard.

BRIAN reports that the boot jets are still not working so Thor offers Tony a lift on the back of the goat. Stark takes some time to think about it.

Story 3:- Battle behind the Bamboo Curtain
Writer Kurt Busiek. Artist Benjamin Dewey.

In an imaginary previous issue Iron Man defeated Ultimo in space and then fell almost powerless to Earth but was rescued by Madame Masque who'd kidnapped Senator Harrington Byrd for her unknown master. But they were forced to crash-land her plane in Communist China.

Senator Byrd as usual blames Tony Stark's iron bodyguard for everything and demands to be taken back to the USA before his presence here triggers an international incident. He tries to call for help on his suit radio but can't get through to Stark Industries ...

... where Pepper Potts and Happy Hogan are trying to get the permanent radio link to Iron Man working. Eddie March admits that *he* wrecked it as well as shutting down the site defence system so Madame Masque could kidnap Byrd. Pepper can't believe this of Tony Stark's trusted friend who was even briefly a substitute IM (in IM#21). Eddie says he doesn't know why he did it but he remembers as if in a dream a shadowy figure wearing rings ...

... and we see what is clearly the Mandarin who muses that his scheme is not going *completely* to plan but he signals a backup operative to strike ...

... and the stranded trio are attacked by Radioactive Man who hopes to regain favour with the Chinese government by bringing them our 3 to face trial for espionage. Shellhead still has no power for weapons or boot jets so Chen Lu is easily able to throw him off a cliff. He then turns to shoot MM who had disobeyed their master, but she shoots 1st and destroys his gun. But he just leaps towards her to kill her with his strength and radiation.

However he's suddenly wrapped in lead-foil tape (last used against him in Avengers #6). We learn that the Golden Avenger had climbed back up to the crashed plane where he'd begun a recharge (he's still hooked up to the batteries). The tape will contain RM's radiation so now its a duel of atomic-fuelled fists against barely-powered armour. But Chen Lu has never actually learned to box so IM's fists soon beat him unconscious.

Now he's able to contact SI, and SHIELD will send a team to extract the Senator. But Happy has tipped him off that the master villain is Mandarin so he's now going after *him*. Masque can either help the Armoured Avenger or fall with her master.

In the imaginary next issue the story will conclude in Let Freedom Ring.

Story 4:- Things to come
Writer Gerry Duggan. Artist Juan Frigeri.

This is actually just several disconnected panels from the next series which show:- She-Hulk defending Tony Stark in court. Tony is accused of fraud and murder. Someone has him in their gunsights, and a female points a gun at him to avenge his victims. Tony asks his father's grave why Howard didn't tell him the truth. And something from the days of the Silver Centurion armour is coming back to bite him (maybe from Armour Wars?).

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.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)

(Isaac Christians)

(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes

Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)

(Peter Parker)

(Ben Grimm)


Plus: Bethany Cabe, Eddie March, Frog-Man (Eugene Patilio), Ironheart (Riri Williams), Radioactive Man, Senator Byrd, Sleepwalker.

> Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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