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Iron Man Annual #8: Review

Oct 1986
Bob Harras, Paul Neary

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Story Name:

When Innocence Dies

Review & Comments

3 stars

Iron Man Annual #8 Review by (November 22, 2016)
Comments: Story takes place between IRON MAN #208 and 209. Willie Evans and his parents previously appeared in FANTASTIC FOUR #203 and as of 2016, Willie and Grunt have not returned. Cameron Hodge is a longtime X-Factor villain but he's just a bystander here. Pottersville is the name of the evil town in the alternate history section of IT'S A WONDERFUL LIFE. Next annual: 1987.

Review: Dark and bitterly poignant psychological drama is marred by only halfway decent artwork but more so by the presence of X-Factor. The X-characters take seriously their role as metaphor for every oppressed minority so one should not be surprised to find a heavy-handed lecture on tolerance issued by mutants boiling over with self-righteousness. There were no easy answers in this story but still Jean Gray gets all snotty multiple times. Reader beware.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man Annual #8 Synopsis by T Vernon
Young Willie Evans has the mutant ability to make images from his imagination become real; his pal, a miniature talking frog named Grunt, often goads him into using his powers for mischief. Case in point: making the teacher's desk spring into life as a menacing monster. Willie's father is called in to talk to the principal but denies everything. At home, Dad tries to scold Willie but armored men burst in and carry Willie off....

Iron Man takes his new alpha-particle generator to Project Pegasus for testing. There he meets with his old pal Michael O'Brien, the Guardsman. Seeing a little boy there, Shellhead asks Guardsman about him; Michael pleads security reasons but is troubled by what he knows. When Tony hears the boy scream he wants to take action but Michael halts him....

Mr. Evans goes to the headquarters of X-Factor with a gun and accuses them of kidnapping his son. Cameron Hodge talks him into giving up the weapon and takes him to meet with the team. Evans relates how his son had a brush with the Fantastic Four and they referred him to Professor Xavier. The Evans' did not follow up and since Mrs Evans died last year, Willie is out of control. From the description of the armored kidnappers, Beast suspects Project Pegasus....

X-Factor arrives at the Project, planning to sneak in but they are caught by Guardsman and a battle breaks out. Iron Man hears this and joins in. Meanwhile, Willie's pal Grunt returns and persuades Willie to pay back those who are mistreating him....

Iron Man and Beast have a talk and work out what is going on and get Guardsman and the other X-Men to call a truce. But the entire complex is being attacked by a giant electric crab, courtesy of Willie, followed by huge stone duplicates of the X-Factor heroes. The fight goes against the good guys and hours later, when they are (sort of) recovered, they call for help for the injured personnel at Pegasus and head out in search of Willie...

Iron Man meets with Reed Richards and Nick Fury. Fury tells him that SHIELD and the military will be out looking for Willie. Reed points out that Willie is just a kid and there are no easy answers. Shellhead rejoins X-Factor and fills them in on the sitch. Jean Gray then lectures him on mutant rights—Tony tries to defend himself as best he can.

The military arrives in Pottersville, N.Y. Hungry, Willie tries to steal food from a store but is caught. Grunt goads him into destroying the store, which attracts the attention of the heroes and Nick Fury. Willie turns the rubble of the store into a marauding giant to fight the army and knocks Iron Man out of the sky when he intervenes. At Grunt's urging, Willie creates a huge force field that expands quickly, forcing the heroes to retreat. Working together they blast the force bubble until Willie tires and it explodes. Willie begs Iron Man for help but Grunt forces him to blast Shellhead. Willie's dad calls out to him but Grunt makes Willie blast him. Grunt is revealed to be the personification of Willie's anger, grown into a sentient being of its own—and responsible for Willie causing the accident that killed his mom. Willie turns on Grunt but his anger has only grown more powerful as Grunt expands into a giant reptilian monster. Willie, realizing his part in all the terror, fights back against his own monstrous dark side and the resulting explosion destroys Grunt—and Willie dies in his father's arms....

Epilogue: At Willie's funeral Tony Stark speaks to Jean Gray and she lectures him about tolerance too. Later that night, we see Grunt, sitting on Willie's grave and wishing for his return. “The...End?”

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Paul Neary
Ian Akin
Petra Scotese
Walt Simonson (Cover Penciler)
Walt Simonson (Cover Inker)


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Mr. Fantastic
Mr. Fantastic

(Reed Richards)

Plus: X-Factor.

> Iron Man Annual: Book info and issue index

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