Iron Man: Season One #1: Review

Apr 2013
?, Gerald Parel

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Iron Man: Season One #1 Review by (April 25, 2013)
Another unnecessary continuity problem is that SHIELD is shown as already existing before IM's origin. This and the leap to a more recognisable armour may bring the comics more into line with the film version. But then the alcoholism doesn't fit that idea. The 1994 Fury 1-shot (which I will be synopsising soon) established that Stark proposed the idea of SHIELD after becoming Iron Man. And also that the only Director of SHIELD before Nick Fury was Rick Stoner. So Director Birch messes with that also. Actually, as I (will) say in my Fury comments, retellings and retcons can usually be reconciled with the old stuff at the cost of 'forgetting' bits of the old stories. So the scene with the bulky gold Iron Man in Fury #1 isn't very important to the plot, and without it Stark's advocacy of SHIELD can be moved back in time. (I don't think the related scene with Logan, and James Hudson behind the scenes, is that fixed in time either.) Similarly Birch here isn't a hands-on active Director like Stoner and Fury, and could be discounted as a (crooked) political overseer. This issue ends with Tony proposing Nick Fury as Director. This can also be reconciled with Fury #1. In that book both Fury and Stoner are in line for the job. Stoner gets it, but in IM: Enter the Mandarin #6 Stark suggests Fury replace him. A significant point here is that Tony asks Pepper to redraft an *old* memo proposing Fury. So this could mean Fury was Stark's original favourite, but he got overruled by the President.

Jim Rhodes was introduced in IM(1968)#118, and the flashback in #144 established that they met during the origin. In this book his Gulf War military experience postdates the previous 1990-set origin. Jim mentions the Hulk here, which is reasonable, but Stark replies that he knows Bruce Banner, which doesn't fit because no-one knew they were the same person then. Stark's rebuilt armour as seen on the cover with hip pods and no rivets in the helmet is strictly speaking post-ToS#66. It's definitely later than the bulky armour that ended in ToS#47. Parel's art-style again blurs the details inside, but it still seems to be the same version. This plays havoc with continuity in a way that isn't demanded by updating the date. Similarly, although Tony's playboy lifestyle undoubtedly included drinking a lot, he isn't shown with a drinking problem until the story that ends in IM(1968)#128, and I don't believe he attends AA meetings until after #200.

All the earlier versions had Stark and Yin Sen creating the smooth but bulky grey armour. Now they put together an armour which much more realistically looks like it was built from whatever junk they found lying around. It incorporates deflector tech which is probably an earlier version of the repulsor tech mentioned as part of the helicarrier. Stark's repulsor tech was possibly used from the very 1st armour in ToS#39, although in the early days it was referred to as reverse magnetism or magnetic repellors. The creation of the armour is displayed in a poor sequence of panels (which I've somewhat obscured in my description). They create the breastplate. Stark suggests adding deflector tech to it. Wong Chu & Khouri overhear this discussion, but in the fight the deflector's already installed. And when Stark escapes he somehow has a full suit of armour, although cobbled together from bits. (Gerald Patel painting[-like] art allows him to give the impression that the armour is made from different things, without making it clear what they are.) Amazingly also this armour seems to have its own breathing apparatus for the jet flight and the under-river walk! But to be fair Tony did have a long time in the village to fit that. Although he seemed more concerned with giving it a drinks dispenser!

This entry in the Season One stakes concentrates on a new version of Iron Man's origin in Tales of Suspense #39, with an added villain to provide a follow-on. This issue continues a tradition of relocating the origin in time and space. The ToS#39 version in the 60's didn't actually say it was in Vietnam, but the addition of James Rhodes in a flashback in Iron Man (1968) #144 confirmed it. The flashbacks in IM(1968)#267-268 move the origin beyond that war to about 1980, in an unnamed SouthEast Asian country, probably the country Sin-Cong invented way back in the original Avengers #18. Flashbacks in IM(2005)#1&5 put it all in Afghanistan in 1990. Now we've moved to the invented Chardistan in the late 90's. Wong Chu is another tradition. He was in the Vietnam origin and the 1980 one. It was a flashback in Avengers Spotlight #22 that defined Sin-Cong as his area of warfare. The Taliban captors were unnamed in the 1990 version. But now Wong Chu is back, a strange name for a Muslim. Whichever origin story is used, Wong Chu apparently survived and reappeared in IM(1998)#32 and Annual 2000. Prof Yin Sen is a constant *all* the way though. Mouad Khouri is invented for this book. In the 1st 2 versions Stark was injured by enemy weapons. In 1990 it was one of his own landmines, set off by an enemy bullet. Now that landmine is probably faulty.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man: Season One #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Sometime in the late 90's Tony Stark and his PA Pepper Potts have a brief meeting with Stark Industries staffers Loretta Sims and Neal Van Zandt and SHIELD Director Birch. SHIELD itself is up and running, but SI is building the helicarrier, to be held aloft by Stark repulsor technology. Stark won't admit it but the SHIELD project is the only thing keeping his company in business, now that hard-drinking playboy Tony has taken over from his dead father. The meeting is very short because Stark is boarding his private plane to go sort out SHIELD problems in Chardistan.

SHIELD is having problems there with Stark's repulsor-based airborne land mines, which sometimes don't go off at all, and sometimes go off prematurely. (If Tony had read Pepper's notes on the plane instead of drinking he'd have know that the humidity was degrading the firing mechanisms.) During Stark's visit the base is attacked, and he is injured by one of his own land mines.

Stark is believed dead. But he wakes in a jungle hideout with a piece of shrapnel threatening his heart. He is a prisoner of Muslim extremists Wong Chu and Maouad Khouri. Maouad was Tony's drinking and girl-chasing buddy at MIT, but now he has renounced his decadent Western ways.

His captors want Stark to repair some deflector technology his company sold them back when they were fighting the Soviets. Another captive Prof Hoy Yin Sen will help, and when they're done Yin Sen will be allowed to remove the shrapnel.

The scientists start work. But pain is crippling Stark, and even here he manages to find alcohol to drink 'for medicinal purposes'. They jury-rig a breastplate to manage Tony's condition. Stark get the idea of incorporating deflector tech in the breastplate, hoping to escape.

Wong Chu and Khouri discover what they're doing. Wong Chu shoots, Stark deflects the bullet, which kills Yin Sen. Tony uses the deflector aggressively and kills Wong Chu, and then escapes.

Khouri tells his men that Stark was rescued, and even seems to believe it himself. So when Tony returns completely clad in cobbled together armour, Maouad thinks he's a SHIELD Agent. Stark destroys the base, and seems to be the only one who makes it out.

But later allies of Maouad find him alive but horribly burned and mutilated. Even as they stretcher him off, he orders them to search for any traces of what Stark and Hoy were doing.

Armoured Stark staggers into a village, and stays there helping Ving brew beer (and drinking some of the stock). Meanwhile Khouri has his own armour built, and both useless legs and 1 arm replaced with extensions of the armour. Meanwhile (again) Pepper is trying to hold Tony's company together and keep up the hope that he'll return. She doesn't realise that Birch, Sims and Van Zandt have been siphoning money from the increasing overrun of the SHIELD project budget.

Tony's idyll is interrupted when the tanks of a local warlord invade the village. But his ramshackle armour is enough to stop them. But (again) a UN/charity organisation helicopter turns up, piloted by Jim Rhodes, and Tony can't escape from the 'real' world anymore. But he can prolong his 'holiday' by claiming to be someone called Tom Smith.

After a few drinks with Rhodey in the Chardistan capital, Stark flies home in his armour by magnetising it underneath a passenger jet. He disengages over New York, but is mistaken for a terrorist threat and strafed by fighter planes and the coast guard. Pretending to be damaged he falls into the river, and then walks to shore.

Meanwhile Birch, Sims and Van Zandt have gotten increasingly greedy, and are worried that Potts will suss them out. So they plan for her to have an 'accident'. But everyone is shocked by Tony Stark's sudden reappearance.

Back in Chardistan Maouad Khouri has completed his conversion into an armoured warrior, and run a successful test shooting down helicopters. Now he too is disturbed to hear that Tony Stark is alive. And vows vengeance for what Stark's escape did to him.

In the following weeks the conspirators believe that they can continue to steal money from under drunkard Stark's nose. But they still need to get rid of Pepper. Meanwhile Tony works on a proper version of his armour. And Khouri is brought to America.

The Stark Industries Board, along with Pepper Potts and Jim Rhodes (whom Pepper tracked down), confront Tony over his alcoholism. But they are interrupted by news that an armoured form calling himself Maouad Khouri is attacking the UN Building and shooting down SHIELD jets. Stark recognises the name and the type of armour.

As Director Birch heads into town to take the helm of SHIELD, Stark dons his new improved armour. By now Khouri has worked out that it's Stark in the armour. But Tony's drunken state means that Maouad can still outfight him. Stark winds up in the river again, not by choice this time. But Khouri also exits injured and running out of power.

Back at SI, Tony sees news reports of the fight, half of which he can't even remember. And realises what a weapon of mass destruction he was drunk in charge of. Then he also sees Khouri has appeared again. But this time he's heading for SI. Slowly shaking off his doubts, Stark suits up again.

In the chaos of the attack, Sims and Van Zandt choose the moment to get rid of Potts by 'accidentally' running her over with a car. But armoured Stark saves her, before jetting off to face his foe.

Stark leads Khouri to the hanger housing the SHIELD helicarrier, nearly completed. He remotely triggers its repulsor lifters, raises it up and lets it fall on top of Maouad, crushing him and his armour.

We learn afterwards that Sims and Van Zandt were killed in the attack. And that the news is calling the red and gold saviour Iron Man. Stark uncovers the embezzlement, and has Birch under official investigation. Birch is removed as Director of SHIELD, and Stark recommends Nick Fury as his replacement. He puts Potts and Rhodes in charge of completing the helicarrier. And he goes to an AA meeting.

Gerald Parel
Gerald Parel
Gerald Parel
Julian Totino Tedesco (Cover Penciler)
Julian Totino Tedesco (Cover Inker)
Julian Totino Tedesco (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Clayton Cowles.
Editor: Andy Schmidt.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes

Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)

Plus: Maouad Khouri, Wong-Chu.

> Iron Man: Season One: Book info and issue index

Share This Page