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Iron Man Annual #6: Review

Nov 1983
Peter Gillis, Luke McDonnell

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Story Name:

In Dreams What Death May Come

Review & Comments

4 stars

Iron Man Annual #6 Review by (March 14, 2016)
The comic carefully doesn't let on for a while that Iron Man is facing the Deviants and then the Eternals. But the cover gives it away with the blurb 'To free the Eternals'.

Eternals and Deviants are the inventions of Jack Kirby in the original Eternals series. He wrote this when he returned to Marvel after a stint at DC. The Eternals were a sort-of version of the New Gods he created for DC. The space gods called the Celestials were also introduced in that series, as were all the Eternals and Deviants who appear by name here. And brain-mines. And the Uni-Mind which is a group mind that the Eternals can create by merging their consciousnesses.
The city in this story is their Olympia in the mountains of northern Greece.

The Eternals were mostly last seen in Thor #301. In #300 Mark Gruenwald finished off the saga Roy Thomas had been spinning since #283 (from seeds planted in the earlier Annual #7). The Celestials had returned to judge the result of their experiment on Earth. In #300 the Eternals' Uni-Mind allied with the Destroyer containing the essences of the Asgardians to hold off the space gods. But it was Gaea/Mother Earth who saved the day by giving 12 human representatives of Earth to the Celestials. (They will return as the Young Gods.) In #301 we learned that Zuras had died.
This issue says that the Eternals were captured by the Deviants straight after that. But Ikaris and Sersi appeared in the Contest of Champions limited series in between.

Iron Man appears in this issue following IM#177. James Rhodes won't be in #178 which concentrates on drunken Tony Stark. Rhodey will say goodbye to the Eternals in #179.

They will then next show up in Avengers #246-248. At the end of that story most Eternals will leave for space led by Valkin (who is mentioned in this issue and is also a character from the original Eternals series). They will take many Deviants with them including Tode.
But the Eternals that we know best will remain on Earth, and have a 2nd series and more.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man Annual #6 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
James Rhodes is testing his ability to control the Iron Man armour in the skies over Holland when he's spotted by some Netherlands Air Force jets. They recognise him and are OK with him violating their airspace. They even comply when he asks them to fire a couple of missiles at him. (I guess they figure Tony Stark will recompense their Air Force for the loss.)

It appears Rhodey is testing out a new computer system which enables him to dodge the missiles. Then he attaches disruptors to shut the missiles down, and then he returns them to their positions on the aircraft.

Iron Man gets in touch with the inventor of the computer system Morley Erwin who's been monitoring the exercise. Morley thinks it's working so well it could probably run the armour without Jim having to be there. Prophetic words as the system starts running again of its own accord, and neither Rhodey nor Morley can stop it.

Jim thinks someone must be taking control of the armour like Justin Hammer did to Tony Stark in #127. He tries to rip the power pods off his hips, but the system reacts by locking his arms away from his sides. And it flies him across Europe. Rhodey has lost track of where he is and so doesn't know what mountain range he ends up in. But he can recognise a Kirbyesque city on a peak when he sees 1.

Some of the strange denizens of the city fly out to meet Iron Man, and start shooting at him. The computer module goes into automatic evasive manoeuvres and then goes on the offensive too, knocking enemies out of the sky with Rhodey's rigidly outstretched arms. But he's way outnumbered and they mob him and drag him down, and secure him with a tractor beam. (Though I don't know why the computer stops firing the boot jets, and never fired repulsors.)

They take the still-rigid armour to their leader Lord Kro. They all think he's just a robot weapon, and Kro tells them to dismantle it and study it. But they turn the tractor beam off to get at him. The computer unfreezes his armour and Iron Man is able to fight them off and escape.

But as soon as he's got away the module takes over again.. It turns out it'll let him do whatever he wants except leave the city. Lord Kro and his minions didn't seem to be expecting him, so Rhodey figures someone else brought him here. Maybe he'd better try and find out who.

Sneaking around as best he can in armour Iron Man sees a guarded door. When the guards get called away he enters to find a load of human-looking folks in superhero-looking costumes asleep or dead. He ducks behind a pillar as more non-humans come in and take 1 of the humans away, referring to him as an Eternal and themselves as Deviants.

Jim follows them to a large room containing a giant machine (as Kirbyesque as the city). There Kro prepares to perform an experiment for the Deviant ruler Brother Tode. He removes the brain-mine from the forehead of the Eternal, which has been keeping him in stasis. The Eternal begins to wake up but before he can do anything a neuro-pressor beam freezes his body but leaves him conscious.

Kro now attaches a molecular disruptor to the body which gradually tears the molecules of the Eternal's body from his mental control. Which is very painful, much to the amusement of the Deviant crowd. The object of the exercise isn't to kill the Eternal, because they can't be killed. Instead it drives the victim mad, and the molecules slip permanently out of his control.

In this state they place the Eternal in the giant Absorbatron, which will vaporise  the body. The resulting molecules still retain the essence of the Eternal. Which Brother Tode now ingests - a process that he believes will give him immortality like the Eternals.

While watching all this Iron Man swears to get revenge for the tortured and dead Eternal, and to save all the others. He follows Kro when he leaves.

During the the preceding events Kro has expressed objections and sarcastic disrespect. Which become more obvious as he stalks off with his guards. He enters another room but leaves the guards outside with express instructions to keep everyone out, even Tode.

Rhodey can't tell what the Deviants' weapons do so he can't defend against them or stop them working. But he can affect them in a simpler way. He makes them fire, and keep firing. While the guards try to switch the guns off, and worry about attracting attention to what Kro is doing, Shellhead slips into the room.

It turns out to be another chamber full of sleeping Eternals. Lord Kro prostrates himself before a particular female he calls Thena. He expresses his love for her and then deactivates her brain-mine and asks her to come away with him. The Eternals are doomed and the Deviants are obsessed by their desire for immortality.

Thena can't do that. And for our benefit she goes over how the current situation has arisen. After her father Zuras, the Eternals' leader and keeper of the Uni-Mind, fell in battle with the Celestial space gods in Thor #300 the Eternals brought his body back here to their secret city for his funeral.

She also describes how the Celestials turned early hominids into humans, Deviants and Eternals. The humans became warlike savages. The Deviants mastered technology and enslaved humans. The Eternals retreated into solitude in their city (but sometimes roamed amongst humans and were treated as gods).

Then she returns to the recent past and relates how after the funeral Deviants hidden in the city attached brain-mines to Eternals as they slept. Only Thena, Ikaris, Makkari and Sersi were awake discussing future plans. And the Deviant horde overwhelmed them.

Thena can't forget or forgive this. And she can't love Kro if he condones it. So Kro reluctantly reactivates her brain-mine and leaves, expressing a hope that eventually she will change her mind.

Jim Rhodes is still there. He figures that Kro has been regularly awakening Thena, and maybe it was she who brought him here. So he uses a narrow focus repulsor blast on her brain-mine. But it has no effect, and neither does a sustained low power attack. He daren't try more for fear of injuring her. And his batteries are running low.

He leaves to find a power source to recharge from. His armour can sense such things and leads him to another room with another huge machine that might have been designed by Jack Kirby. While in no way having Tony Stark's ability to figure out what such a device would do, Jim does recognise the control console. He plugs a lead from his armour into a socket and hopes the suit can do something ...

... and the console lights up with a message addressed personally to Iron Man and asking for instructions. Rhodey asks for directions to a power source. The computer shows him a map with some highlighted. And the most powerful turns out to be the body of Zuras. This gives James an idea.

He goes back for the sleeping Thena, who's heavier than she looks. He takes her and places her next to Zuras. Energy coruscates from Zuras to Thena, destroying the brain-mine. And waste heat from the process is enough to recharge IM's batteries.

But the result isn't exactly what Rhodes was hoping for. Thena thinks she is Death and Iron Man is her lover through the ages. She transforms their clothing and their surroundings through several iterations. In the final scene they are wearing toga-like garments. James finally manages to snap her out of it. She reverts to Thena but unfortunately leaving Rhodey as he is, without his armour.

It turns out it was Thena who summoned Iron Man. Of course this is the point where Kro and some other Deviants pop in. Thena is very low on power herself, so she plays for time by begging Kro to save the Eternals. Kro repeats that he doesn't care about them, only her. She offers her services to the Deviants in return for her bretheren's lives. But Kro just repeats his plan to elope with her and leave the Deviants and Brother Tode to rot.

1 of the other Deviants has apparently been ordered by Tode to watch out for betrayal by Lord Kro. He hurls a spear through Kro's chest. Unfortunately for him Deviant structure is genetically highly variable, and that isn't where Kro's heart is. The other Deviants kill the assassin on his command.

Next Thena offers to go away with him as he asks, if only he will let the human James Rhodes go. But Kro can't trust her, and applies a new brain-mine. Then he tells his guards to kill Rhodey. Unarmoured Jim can only run away. They give chase, and toy with him like cats with a mouse. But eventually he manages to give them the slip.

Rhodes now dashes back to the computer room. The computer tells him his armour is encoded within its database. As the Deviants find him again he desperately asks the computer for the armour back. It delivers the chestplate and gloves and says the rest will follow.

The chestplate deflects ray blasts and the gloves (which also seem to extrude the arm armour) knock Deviants over with repulsor blasts. Then the helmet and hip power pods arrive. Now Iron Man is cooking on gas. And the computer has included data which enables the armour to emit a nerve block designed to KO Deviants.

As Rhodey waits for his pants, Tode demands that Kro feed Thena to the Absorbatron to prove his loyalty. But Kro successfully argues that they should process Zuras whose Eternal essence is obviously greater.

This is exactly what Iron Man and the computer were hoping for. As Zuras goes into the machine the computer links up to the Absorbatron. The machine explodes, and Zuras's energy destroys all the brain-mines. The Eternals are free. Led by Ajak, Ikaris, Makkari and Thena they burst into the room with Iron Man and make short work of the Deviants.

But before the Eternals can celebrate, Thena makes a dramatic announcement. During her contact with Zuras she learned that they have a destiny beyond Earth and among the stars. As the crowd noisily debate her proposal Ikaris leads Iron Man away. He says that the argument will go on for days. Meanwhile he and some like-minded fellows will have a victory party, and Jim Rhodes is invited.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Luke McDonnell
Roy Richardson
Carl Gafford
Luke McDonnell (Cover Penciler)
Steve Mitchell (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Zuras.

> Iron Man Annual: Book info and issue index

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