Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Iron Man, Year 2 - Part 2 - Tales of Suspense 57-62

So after our big Manadarin two-parter we get ...

First appearance! Hawkeye? Whatever happened to that guy? You know he's Hawkeye because he has a letter "H" on his head. Oh and ...

The more things change ...

Yes we are - for about 8 months until he joins the Avengers! In the meantime he happens to run into the Black Widow purely by chance and she helps him beef up his arsenal. Then she asks him to take out Iron Man and of course he agrees.

I believe this is the first time we see the word "repulser" (OK so the spelling is off) in association with a ray from IM's gauntlet. We also see the side-pods pretty consistently in this issue - they were not present in 55, they appear in parts of 56, and they are in just about every shot of IM in 57. So many firsts!

Anyway IM defeats Hawkeye who escapes with the Widow in a boat. I wonder if we will ever see them again?

Things you could steal: The villain/hero rogue type character is a classic at this point. Having him deceived by a beauty is too. Jealousy as motivation is perfectly fine and pretty understandable in a superhero world.

Whoa, that ain't supposed to happen - here's my 12 cents!

We start off with Kraven the Hunter and the Chameleon sneaking back into America - alright, kind of a crossover thing going on there. Anyway the Chameleon's power proves to be extremely effective and Cap & IM spend quite a bit of time in a scrap until they figure out what's going on. Giant Man and Wasp show up too so we get a little Avengers flavor in the mix as well.

Things you could steal: The master of disguise would have to replace an NPC hero to get any real use out of this but it could be fun.

So after the fight in the last issue they made up and decided to move in together. Note that we have pretty much arrived at the classic Golden Avenger armor that will carry us from 1965 right on thru 1985. As a kid this is pretty much what Iron Man looked like for me.

In this issue the Black Knight breaks out of jail and seeks revenge on Shellhead because the Avengers put him in jail. They have a nice long fight and (Spoiler Alert!) Black Knight ends up back in jail. Stark's heart continues to have problems and in this issue he ends up claiming that Stark had to leave but left him in charge, causing Pepper and Happy to be very suspicious. I like that they worked in this angle to the story - it's a step up in sophistication and could be fun in the future.

Things to steal: DM's, make sure players truly pay for those complications!

Tony Stark is still trapped in his suit to stay alive and his story comes apart rather quickly. Of course Hawkeye and the Black Widow choose this time to strike. Iron Man pulls out a victory but he's still stuck in his suit. Also, the Widow gets kidnapped by Russian spies, presumably to be taken home and punished for her failures.

Things to steal: Recurring villains are handy, especially when mixed in with other complications.
Tony Stark invented the ipod in 1964

A month later we have Issue 61:

Happy and Pepper quit, forcing Stark to make an appearance. Then the Mandarin tries to blast him - from orbit, with a satellite-mounted laser! That's a serious grudge. Everyone thinks Stark is dead so IM flies off to the Orient to deal with the Mandarin. This doesn't go so well and he ends up tied down and threatened with an origin story! Another two-parter for the Mandarin!

 So, issue 62, completing two years of Iron Man stories, and we get the origin of the Mandarin. The first one anyway, as I believe we have had several over the years. In this original origin he finds a wrecked ship once flown by an alien dragon and the ten jeweled rings that powered the ship soon become his source of power. I like it and it does explain the somewhat random nature of his powers and his knowledge of other things.

Getting back to "now" the villain plans to start World War 3 and then step in to rule after the East and West exhaust themselves - not a bad plan, but one Iron Man cannot allow to succeed! He escapes, recharges, foils the plan, then goes toe-to-toe with the Mandarin, fighting pretty much to a draw. Afterward each returns home. Even at this early stage the Mandarin is consistently the one opponent that can fight IM straight up.

Things to Steal: Starting WW3 is a solid villain plot and should get your players going. If it succeeds, well, there's always time travel ... 

So that's the end of Year Two - we've had more Crimson Dynamo, lots more Mandarin, fewer goofy one-off villains, and the first appearance of Black Widow and Hawkeye - that's a pretty solid year and it lays a lot of groundwork for the years to come.

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