Wednesday, March 13, 2019

Iron Man: Alcoholic Part VI: Rising from the Ashes – Initial Insecurities


Super Blog Team-Up
Redemption
Iron Man: Alcoholic
Part VI: Rising from the Ashes – Initial Insecurities






Sorry about the big break in the action there. Thank you for being patient during my over a month long gap in posting.

I started my yearly reorganization of the Crapbox – adding books I’ve bought, reboxing sections so they fit better, alphabetizing, reading a few choice ones before they vanish into the Crapbox forever – you know, the usual.

Unfortunately, all of that (plus adding some shelving, moving around two closets to make room for the BOXES of Crapbox that exist, etc) took me away from the reviewer’s desk for a bit. Quite a bit.



Good news is: I’m back now!

I’m back and I’ve got some of the most enjoyable parts of this redemption arc if you are a Tony Stark Iron Man fan. When we left him last Tony had made the decision to not only stop drinking, but to also to get the help he needed and to use the precious gift of life he has been given. As for suiting back up again, Marvel teased us with Tony getting back into the armor for over a year with some really great storylines. And during the course of that year we saw Rhodey continually struggling with health issues, both physical and mental that all seemed pinned to his use of the Iron Man suit.



As issue number 183 starts off, Rhodey squares off against a villain calling himself Taurus. Taurus’ look reminds me a bit of the Bullwhip character’s first suit from the MCU movie Iron Man 2. Additionally, our new Iron Man is having issues with the high-tech additions to the suit he gained while on the Beyonder’s world.

IM183 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

The suit malfunctioning isn’t Rhodey’s only headache. He’s got some kind of feedback from wearing the suit that is causing him migraines. And those headaches have Rhodey popping pills. If this keeps up, he could end up an addict just like Tony.

IM183 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

Not to mention the pressure to find twenty thousand dollars so Morley and Cly can seed the beginnings of their high-tech startup company.


 IM183 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

That’s when Rhodey’s opportunity comes in. Seems Taurus has threatened Regis Fusskey’s company and he wants to hire Iron Man. After a bit of dickering over price they come to an agreement.

On his way to confront Taurus, Rhodey uncovers the ringleaders who sent this unstoppable juggernaut on his path, and those fellows turn out to be Maggia crime bosses. He also learns that Taurus’s true target at Fusskey’s company is the original Zodiac villain Taurus, who was muscling in on Maggia's operation and using Fusskey’s company as a front. This new, upgraded Taurus has been sent to take him out. And nothing Zodiac Taurus throws at him slows him down.

IM183 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

Iron Man even has trouble stopping Taurus’s single-minded pursue of the Zodiac bearing his name. The guy’s kind of like the Terminator. It gets so extreme that Rhodey drops him off the top of a building after every other conventional method fails.

IM183 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

That tactic doesn’t slow him down, and the pair end up brawling in the streets where someone familiar happens to pass by with a few of his AA buddies…

IM183 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

Tony feels the urge to help, although not necessarily by jumping back into the armor. He just wants to feel useful again and fighting menaces is something he has done for years at this point. Rhodey is still struggling, but not giving up.

IM183 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

And as James Rhodes finally finds a way using an up-close blast of the Uni-Beam to burn out some sensitive circuits, Tony lets go of the idea of getting back in the suit.

IM183 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell


Back at the shop, Rhodey’s check allows Cy to drop a bombshell: if they are going to make it as a fledgling electronics company some moves will have to be made. Specifically a move to California’s Silicon Valley.



Which leads into our next issue where we find the group packing up shop, the original Taurus trying to bomb the trio out of existence knowing one of them must be Iron Man, and…

IM184 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

….Tony making an offer the trio. An offer, he seems almost afraid to bring up. Could he be asking for the suit back? Well, maybe. But first let’s have Tony meet the techinical people behind Rhodey at this point.



IM184 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

After a trading of pleasantries, Tony musters up the courage to say what he came to say. He’d like a job. He wants to join the three of them in making a go at it. After having let down his company and driven it into bankruptcy due to his alcoholism, asking this is a very big deal. Watching Tony humble himself after years of brash actions as Iron Man and the knowledge that he let down every single person that counted on him drives home the point that Tony Stark isn’t just a brilliant inventor. He also has a well of courage that surpasses the average person. This is the Iron Man I know, the one that doesn’t quit even when the odds are stacked against him.

And the one that counts on his friends to help out, relies on them, trusts them. But will they come through?

IM184 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

I love that Rhodey doesn’t hesitate. That’s the kind of friendship these two men share. They’ve saved each other’s lives. I also feel that Rhodey can tell Tony’s made a significant life change. That his resolution made two issues ago hasn’t changed. He’s ready to take on responsibility again. How this will affect Rhodey and his issues with wearing the suit, we’ll get to in a few books ahead.

As for the bomb and the trip west? Well, the bomb gets found and disabled before they leave. As for the trip, it is very eventful. Taurus’ buddy Aries shows up blocking the road. Rhodey mops the floor with him as Iron Man and hands him off to a state trooper who gets involved in the dust up. Later on their truck tire is hit by a laser blast, necessitating a pitstop to change it.

And during that pit stop a few feathers are ruffled between Tony and Rhodey…

IM184 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

Here are the seeds of a beginning problem. Tony sees using the suit differently than Rhodey does and this exchange shows there is definitely an undercurrent of rivalry going on between the two men. Tony may not want back in the suit at this point, but he clearly has critiques of Rhodey’s actions. And Rhodey, knowing he has less experience than Tony, but earnestly struggling to live up to his legacy as Iron Man, is rankling at any suggestions Tony has to make. This is a great scene that sets up so much of the arc that follows.

As for our troop, the tire blowout was part of a larger ploy to get them to a service station up the road where Aquarius can fill the truck’s tires with exploding gas and then send them across a bridge designed to fail at the least little pop. Lucky that Iron Man is on hand…however he can only save one vehicle.

 IM184 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

…leaving Tony to basically save himself. 


 IM184 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell


Rhodey doesn’t see him doing it because…headaches? Hmm. This looks almost like the episode of pain is related to Tony somehow, doesn’t it?



The remainder of the journey isn’t smooth sailing. The next issue has Tony and the Erwins plucking up a young lady off the roadside being pursued by a mob that thinks she killed the sheriff. She proclaims her innocence just as the car konks out. Iron Man is not on the scene to help, having gone back to the service station to investigate why the truck’s tires all blew simultaneously. And Rhodey being out of range rankles Tony a bit.


IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

He does make it back in time to save the foursome from a pickup truck of shotgun wielding yokels. Again the girl claims victim status and Tony and Rhodey arrive at different methods of proving her innocence. But since Rhodey is in the armor, he puts his iron boot down.



IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

Rhodey’s way ends up leading them to a remote farmhouse where Aquarius has set a trap for them. The girl is possibly a sheriff killer as she’s exposed as part of Aquarius’ gang. Iron Man is trapped in a “Zodiac Field” and our trio are strapped to the wall while Aquarius turns on a hose filling the room with water.

IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

This old school “tied to the railroad track” villainy story is only saved by the fact that we get to watch Tony struggling with how to help but realizing how out of touch with the current state of Iron Man he really is,…

IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell


Rhodey dealing with the stresses and pressures of being Iron Man,…



… and Tony finally figuring out a plan that saves them all by freeing Rhodey from the field.

 IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

A plan that requires Rhodey to trust Tony’s advice and to put all of his effort into following his directions no matter the consequences.

IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell


One thing becomes clear: Tony being a part of the team makes Rhodey feel useless as Iron Man. No matter how many times Rhodey saves the day or helps someone out, he still measures himself up against the past accomplishments of Tony in the suit. It’s a subtle thing that keeps getting hammered home. Rhodey is a hero, but in his own eyes, he doesn’t feel he measures up.

IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

Okay, maybe NOT so subtle…but it is a theme the book explores over this period.

 IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

Rhodey does stop Aquarius and the girl ends up being guilty of killing the officer, so both of them go off to jail. This doesn’t make Rhodey happy, however. And Morley becomes worried that the rest of the Zodiac will be hot on their trail now…

 IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

…causing Tony to borrow Iron Man’s helmet and make a quick call to Nick Fury. This action really upsets Rhodey, more from seeing Tony in the helmet than the realization that he can’t handle the job of protecting them alone.

IM185 – O’Neil, McDonnell, Mitchell

It speaks a lot for Tony’s growth as well. In the past his hubris would have demanded that he take on Zodiac alone. But this is the new Tony who gets that you need friends to succeed.

Let’s just hope when the smoke clears that Rhodey is still Starks’ friend. The way things are going, that future may be in doubt.

Next up: New villains, a new company, and a new problem as tensions between James Rhodes and Tony Stark begin to rise. Be here in next week for Part VII!

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