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Iron Man Annual #5: Review

Nov 1982
Peter Gillis, Jerry Bingham

Story Name:

War and remembrance

Review & Comments

4 stars

Iron Man Annual #5 Review by (November 25, 2015)
Ralph Macchio co-plots this with scripter Peter Gillis, as part of a team that's completely different from that on the regular issues apart from editor Mark Gruenwald. Annual #4 was 5 years ago. The Official Index puts this within a large bunch of Iron Man appearances between IM#161 and #162, which is the start of the Obadiah Stane storyline. Before this issue is mainly Avengers stuff (Av#223-226 including Tony Stark's brief affair with Janet Van Dyne/Wasp). Av#227 will follow, where the new Captain Marvel joins the team, but embedded within many other adventures - including Contest of Champions almost immediately after the current issue. Black Panther is between series at the moment. Since the gathering at the original Captain Marvel's deathbed in Marvel Graphic Novel #1, T'Challa and the Fantastic Four fought a sort-of time-lost Roman soldier with the power to remove their powers in FF#241. After this issue he'll join everyone for CoC. The opening scene is a replay of that of Jungle Action #8. Mendinao was a character in some of Don McGregor's JA issues, including the above scene in #8. He won't be seen again. Taku was an even more regular JA character. He'd also been in some earlier Black Panther apps Avengers #68 and Fantastic Four #119, and continued to often accompany his king up to this issue. But he won't reappear for nearly 10 years until DM's 1991 series BP: Panther's Prey. Erik Killmonger was the main villain of the Panther's Rage story that took up most of JA. But Madam Slay only arrived to avenge his death in the epilogue in #18. EK will turn up actually alive in Over The Edge #6 where he will claim that the Killmonger here was just a creation of Mandarin in a joint enterprise. He'll be a recurring villain in BP's 1998 and 2005 series. Some other villains from Panther's Rage, including Slay, will join him in BP(1998)#36-37.

The Anti-Metal type of vibranium from the Savage Land was introduced in Daredevil #13, and some months later the Wakandan version popped up in FF#53. Wakandan vibranium is a component of the alloy in Captain America's shield, which helps it absorb blows. Presumably the cyclotron was installed by 'Killmonger' as part of Mandarin's plot to destroy Western civilisation. Mandarin was last seen in #100. He has a new bare-chested costume here as seen on the cover, which he will carry forward to his next apps in #179-181


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man Annual #5 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
T'Challa fights a group of his bodyguards in a regular ritual to prove to Lore-Master Mendinao his continued fitness to be Black Panther and ruler of Wakanda.

Days later Iron Man faces a group of Stark International security guards armed with government-issue hi-tech weapons that they are testing out. The Golden Avenger easily defeats them all. But it makes 1 of the men muse that this will increase government pressure for the company to get back into the armaments game itself. Then Tony Stark prepares to leave for Wakanda.

In Wakanda terrorists invade a new Wakanda/Stark research plant and blow up lots of stuff. James Rhodes flies Stark in to the capital where they are met by the king and an honour guard. Tony and T'Challa retire to a secure room to discuss the real reason for the visit.

Stark is here to help with the recent attacks, and contamination of Wakanda's vibranium. Tony assures T'Challa that Iron Man will be on hand. And the thing the king asked for is on the plane. Later Tony slips away from a banquet with 1 of the local ladies, much to the disgust of some of those present.  But she turns out to be 1 of his agents who triggers a prepared plan.

Jim Rhodes has stayed with the plane. But his boredom is lightened when a woman brings him some food and stays to keep him company. Until she names herself Madam Slay and stabs him with a hypodermic.

An explosion at the airport is the signal for warriors with firearms to invade the feast. Black Panther holds his own for a while but is eventually gunned down. A figure (obviously Erik Killmonger) enters and checks for a non-existent pulse. (Then the enemy must all leave.)

Next morning Mendinao holds a funeral for the king. But Erik interrupts the rites, followed by Madam Slay. He points out that Panther was shot by western weapons and claims that it was western assassins who did it. (Despite the fact that the feasters saw what happened and most of them escaped.) He promises to lead Wakanda against the foreign devils.

But BP is very much alive with Iron Man, Stark soldiers and his own troops and his advisor Taku. The dead body was a Life Model Decoy brought in Stark's plane. Its Panther-like agility was programmed in by the Beast.

T'Challa has history with Killmonger, but he supposedly died in their last encounter. BP leads the force via a hidden (but large) elevator to the hi-tech wonderland below the capital. Shellhead detects radiation and deduces that there's a cyclotron somewhere down here.

Another shaft brings them up inside the palace where they take out many enemy guards. Inside they find Killmonger about to destroy a pile of western artworks. Madam Slay regales the assembly with the tale of how Killmonger survived death.

In Jungle Action #17 T'Challa threw Erik down Warrior Falls. Slay found her lover's dead body washed up on a river bank. She preserved the body with secret herbs and laid it in state in a cave. Then she stayed with him for many days. But 1 night as she slept the body disappeared. (We see someone carry it off.) 3 days later Erik returned alive.

Now Panther steps from the shadows and challenges Killmonger. Erik is glad T'Challa isn't dead because now he can kill him himself. The fight commences but Killmonger's men grab their guns to shoot BP (again). Iron Man uses a vibration ray to shake the weapons out of their hands. But Slay calls in another horde, who are opposed by the Stark and Wakandan forces.

T'Challa continues to fight Erik until an enemy shoots him in the shoulder. IM stops Killmonger from dealing the death blow, and recognises a ring of power on his finger. He uses his tech to neutralise the weapon. But Slay calls IM off by tossing Rhodey's cap into the arena to prove that she has him captive. BP understands when Shellhead flies off to find his friend.

Iron Man's sensors should be able to detect JR's individual life signs, but they can't. Tony Stark deduces that Jim must be hidden on the vibranium mound that would fool the sensors. Dodging the mound's defences Tony can't see any sign of his friend on the surface, so he figures he must be inside. Using a mini-drill in his armoury he soon breaks through into a chamber where Rhodes is chained down on a smaller mound of the metal. But something zaps the armoured warrior.

Meanwhile Black Panther has resumed his grudge match with his old foe. He remembers when they were boys and Erik was known as N'Jadaka and was jealous of the future king. Now Erik justifies his desire to replace T'Challa with a claim to return Wakanda to the greatness it had before it was corrupted by the West.

Back at the vibranium mound some machinery is hitting Iron Man  with high-strength baryon beams, and his force-shield is beginning to give way. And the source is itself shielded against his repulsor rays. Meanwhile James' shackles are heating up. Tony works out that the cyclotron is firing energy at the Wakandan vibranium to turn it into its Savage Land isotope. The emissions from such a mass of Anti-Metal could dissolve all metal in the world, returning us to the Dark Ages.

BP and EK are now fighting atop a high building. Erik tries to throw Panther to his death as he did in JA#17. But BP reminds him that it was Erik who died that time. The sudden memory enables T'Challa to break free.

Nothing Iron Man does stops the cyclotron. But as his systems start to fail under the assault he has a last desperate idea. He drains his remaining power to his hip pods and uses them to direct the rising Anti-Metal radiation itself at the machine.

The cyclotron is destroyed, and Black Panther deals a last blow to Erik Killmonger.

Iron Man brings his rescued friend to the roof where Madam Slay pronounces Erik dead (again). But the body dissolves to a skeleton - he was just an animated corpse. The ring vanishes from his finger. And reappears on the hand of it owner - Mandarin. Who is only slightly put out by the failure of his Wakandan plot.

Jerry Bingham
Dan Green
Beth Firmin
Jerry Bingham (Cover Penciler)
Brett Breeding (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Black Panther
Black Panther

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

> Iron Man Annual: Book info and issue index

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