December 1976: Invincible Iron Man 96 – In which we learn that no one except Ultimo has an inner monologue


Iron Man 56 was written by Gerry Conway and Bill Mantlo, with George Tuska and Jack Able on inks.

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Synopsis: Iron Man starts the issue on his knees, his chest wracked with pain, failing to stop the robot Ultimo from advancing on the White House. Ultimo is only paused by the arrival of a green flying car. The car lands and the driver, Jasper Sitwell of S.H.I.E.L.D, pulls Iron Man into the car and flies off, with Ultimo in hot pursuit. Using the time this gives him, Iron Man gathers himself together to take the fight back to Ultimo.

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Meanwhile at Tony Stark’s factory, police detective Michael O’Brien is breaking in to get his revenge on Stark, for his brother Kevin’s death. Unknown to him, Harry Key, private investigator is doing the same thing, not for revenge, just to improve his lot in life. O’Brien finds Stark’s secretary Kissy Longfellow at work, so he hits her on the back of the head, to keep himself hidden until he is ready to be seen.

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Remembering his earlier battles with Ultimo, Iron Man develops a plan to dig through tonnes of rock to get to a volcanic fault line, lure Ultimo in and get the robot to open the fault line and destroy himself.  As Sitwell helps Iron Man out of the ground and gets him back to the car we go straight to Stark’s factory where Michael O’Brien is dressed as the Guardsman, ready to avenge himself against Iron Man.

Notes: This was not as fun as the Fantastic Four issue from the last post it’s sad to say, but it did highlight one of the things about Iron Man. As much as it was about a man in armour, this man was often held up and kept alive by this same armour. The failings of his body were always very much at the heart of the book. For a long time, if the power on his armour fell below a certain level, his heart stopped. This was a comic about a man who was both fragile and invincible and the fact he kept going so often was the heart of this title.

That said, there’s weirdness a plenty here, a giant robot in a loin cloth. The flying car that no one really feels it that weird to see. The shocking lack of security at Stark International. Even how impossibly equipped and competent Jasper Sitwell is. For me though, the thing that stood out the most was the STAGGERING amount of dialogue. Everyone said everything that there were thinking at all times, often to no one at all.

We’re very much mid story here, so there are a lot of threads missing, but again I don’t feel so far out of my element, the story ideas are put out there well enough that you can understand where everyone is and what’s happening. Would I want to read the previous issue? Yeah, but not nearly as much as I want to read the next and that is  what a serialised comic should do. It should tell a story you can enjoy on it’s own, but give you enough to get you to come back next time.

Revelance: Health problems, people seeking revenge, trouble with  politicians and connections to S.H.I.E.L.D. are not rare things with this comic and nothing from here would really come back to any real extent, with the exception of the Guardsman armour which came back time and again.


Next Time: Preventing Hovercraft rental fraud.

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