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Iron Man: The Iron Age #1: Review

Aug 1998
Kurt Busiek, Patrick Zircher

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Review & Comments

4 stars

Iron Man: The Iron Age #1 Review by (March 19, 2013)
The story of his brief engagement to Joanna Nivena was told in IM#244. But there he told her about his heart problem and his armour, and she encouraged him to use it to fight crime. But it was *she* who finally broke up with *him*. Other women are pulled from future mentions too. Countess de la Spiroza pops up as an ex-girlfriend in ToS#69-72, and then again in IM(1998)#2-3. Lady Alyssa is merely mentioned in Jarvis's memory in Avengers #280). Jeanne is from a contemporary appearance in ToS#40 (but Marion from the same issue isn't mentioned, who suggested that Iron Man would look better painted gold). Minor events from other contemporary issues are mentioned. Iron Man captures spies at an airport and stops ships from colliding, both in ToS#41. He saves workers from a malfunctioning wind tunnel in ToS#43. Some inventions of Tony Stark are also lifted from comics of the time. The anti-missile missile gun is from Avengers #2, as is a Moon tractor seen here in plan form. Another invention on the drawing-board is the deep-sea bathyscaph that the Avengers will use to get to Gibraltar in Av#3, and in which they will rescue captain America in Av#4. The 3rd invention on paper is the sea-tank, the real version of which will be hijacked by Saboteur. This I think is unique to this comic. But Stark's new stealth plane looks suspiciously like the X-Men's Blackbird, both of them based on the real Lockheed SR-71.

Butler Jarvis appears in 1 panel. He didn't really make his 1st appearance until later in ToS#59. And this was in the *Captain America* story, as the Avengers butler which he continued to be. But later he was retrofitted as being Tony Stark's butler before that, and Howard Stark's butler even earlier as seen eg in Avengers: Timeslide. Senator Byrd was 1st seen in ToS#46. Other members of his committee are identified in #2 as a Southern Senator from ToS#42 and Hulk's nemesis Gen'l Ross. The supplier Charleton Carter that Tony gets back onside is also seen in ToS#48, again cancelling supplies. There is a cameo shot of Hawkeye arriving in town, long before ToS#57. The Saboteur was invented for this issue. But she will be reused in Heroes for Hire (2006) #6-7 and a Ka-Zar tale in Marvel Comics Presents (2007) #5-7. The origin sequence shows the original armour in gold rather than grey, and there is no mention of the colour change in ToS#40. James Rhodes was added to the origin in IM#144. In IM#267-268 the origin was updated from Vietnam to a vague South East Asian country, and Tony went to visit a Stark factory there, all as presented here. But the current comic doesn't use the idea, also from IM#267-268, that Mandarin was behind Iron Man's origin.

Kurt Busiek's aim here isn't to retell ToS#39-48. Rather he tells a new story spanning that era, and tries to incorporate all updates to the tale of Iron Man's early days that had appeared in later comics. As such the early tales only get mentioned in passing, sometimes only picking out minor details rather than the main plot. The last page of #2 lists a lot of connections with old issues, as Kurt took lots of stuff from diverse places, many of them originally one-off mentions. Pepper Potts wasn't actually shown until ToS#45, but she was already Stark's private secretary by then, and her promotion was seen in Age of Innocence. Howard and Maria Stark have had numerous flashback appearances, taking them back as far as being abducted by the Red Skull in WWII in Captain America Annual #9. The car crash that killed them was seen in flashback in Iron Man #288. There as here Tony bought the company that built the car, and improved their brake design. I don't think the claim here that RONG arranged the crash has ever been repeated. However in SHIELD (2010) #5 (later than the current 2 issues) Howard Stark says he faked his own death in a car crash in order to join the secret Brotherhood of the Shield. (But the inference there is that his wife wasn't in the crash.) Morgan Stark will actually be 1st seen in ToS#68, where his gambling debts make him a pawn of the bad guys. And he's generally been a problem for Tony since then.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man: The Iron Age #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This 2-issue series weaves a new story around Tales of Suspense #39-48, a tale of the 1st attempted takeover of Stark Industries. This issue is narrated by Pepper Potts as she remembers her early days with Tony Stark.

The bulk of this issue occurs around ToS#39-44 (which are the issues before we actually met Miss Potts), including Avengers #1.

In fact it begins with his father Howard still running Stark Industries when Pepper joins from secretarial school. Howard was past his prime as inventor and boss, but Tony didn't want to take over. He was more interested in being a playboy. However his genius was such that he could keep the firm supplied with innovative tech in his few spare minutes.

But then Howard and his wife Maria were killed in a car crash, and Tony had to step up to the plate. The company continued to benefit from Tony's design flair. But he also continued his playboy lifestyle, and even a lowly secretary like Pepper could see the business side of the firm was dragging everything down.

Pepper improved herself with business courses at night school. One day she made some improvements to a business plan she was typing up, and sent it to the big boss. And Tony made her his Personal Executive Assistant.

Unfortunately what she found was that this meant he would leave all the business side of the company to her, while he swanned around with his cousin Morgan, or did the only work he liked doing:- inventing stuff. And Pepper's business course hadn't prepared her for effectively running a multi-million dollar company.

Tony did try to sometimes handle some of the business, but it wasn't his forte and he was easily discouraged. So he ran away, with the excuse that he was going to solve some technical problems in their Southeast Asian plant. This was where he was injured and captured, and built the 1st Iron Man suit to save his life and escape in his origin in ToS#39. And where he met James Rhodes (as seen in Iron Man #144).

When Tony came back he was a changed man. He broke off his engagement to heiress Joanna Nivena. But he no longer found partying with other women so much fun, and took to drinking alone, much to the dismay of his butler Jarvis.

And soon after that the bulky golden Iron Man started showing up, and it became known he was a friend of Stark.

But Stark had enemies as well as friends. Republic Oil and Natural Gas intended to take over his ailing company. To hurry the process along the executives John T Gamelin, Jonas Hale, Hugh Jones and Krieger had caused Howard Stark's car crash. And now they hired the female Saboteur to cripple Stark Industries.

Saboteur infiltrated SI and sabotaged an anti-missile missile gun. Iron Man saved the day, but Tony angered his workers by demanding to know who had messed up the implementation of his perfectly-designed equipment. As confidence in the company waned, suppliers stopped supplying, and new contracts dried up, especially from the government.

Tony continued to jet-set around the world (in Egypt for a time-travel adventure in ToS#44). And Iron Man continued to fight villains like (not the) Dr Strange in ToS#41. Then IM helped form the Avengers.

Tony got an offer from RONG to buy his company, and Morgan encouraged him to take it. But Pepper tried to persuade him otherwise. She took Tony to meet a pair of employees married to each other, with a family. Then she told her boss that RONG only wanted his patented inventions. They'd probably close most of the actual company down and put a lot of the employees out of work.

She didn't really think it would do any good, and arrived at work next day ready to prepare her CV. But to her surprise Stark was in before her and ready to work. They started the long road of rebuilding confidence in the company. Tony got supplies flowing again, partly by guaranteeing payments with his personal fortune. They persuaded Senator Byrd to bring his weapons-buying committee to see Stark's new stealth aircraft.

RONG's plan was falling apart. On the day of the aircraft demonstration they sent Saboteur in again. This time she opted for the direct approach, in super-villain costume with lots of hi-tech gadgets, eventually hijacking another of his inventions, a sea tank. But Iron Man defeated her, the demo went ahead without a hitch, and the government committee was impressed.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Patrick Zircher
Bob McLeod
Glynis Oliver
Patrick Zircher (Cover Penciler)
Patrick Zircher (Cover Inker)
Letterer: Comicraft.
Editor: Bobbie Chase.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Doctor Strange
Doctor Strange

(Stephen Strange)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)

Plus: Hugh Jones, John T Gamelin, Jonas Hale, Senator Byrd.

> Iron Man: The Iron Age: Book info and issue index

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