This is a special All-Iron Man Edition! Dollar dollar bill, y'all!
Iron Man v.1:no.169 -- Denny O'Neil's hellish journey for Tony Stark takes a turn here, as Tony is so drunk that he can barely control his armor as he is trashed by B-list baddie Magma. Given the choice between his creation and another drink, Stark chooses the latter... leaving James Rhodes holding the helmet! This leads directly into the next issue, where Rhodes offically becomes Iron Man, a position he would hold pretty much for two and a half years. Can you imagine something like that today (except maybe the outing of Matt Murdoch over in Daredevil)? Having bought the majority of this run over the last two years, I have a soft spot for this story about Tony's Big Bender. Not the greatest individual Shellhead story ever but still very enjoyable and the prelude to a milestone.
Iron Man Annual #4 -- It's a 48 page GIANT as Shellhead tracks down MODOK with the help of the Champions. Yes, folks, its the 70s. This book is more a house ad for the Champions than anything else, which is alright since I'm sure they needed the help. Its not bad but not great; in a lot of ways this is a typical Marvel Bronze Age story just beefed up. The Champions always struck me as team you might find in a pencil and paper game where none of the players talked beforehand about what level or type of character to play. This issue also sees the debut appearance of Stryke, AIM cyborg/android guy who holds his own against Iron Man, then thinks he will be a hero in AIM, and is promptly never heard from again. The Knauf's should bring him back! There's also a very short backup featuring Midnight, the other son of Fu Mancu, trying to recruit the old Shellhead foe Half-Face. What this is doing here, and not in the pages of "Master of Kung-Fu," I have no idea. Fun but not really substantial.
Force Works #1 -- In the wake of the forced closure of Avengers West, Iron Man decides that now is the time to think outside the box. Assembling a team of team of similarly displaced Earth's Mightiest (Scarlet Witch, Spider-woman II, USAgent, and Wonder Man), he pitches his Force Works concept, where instead of just reacting to threats, the team would actively try to prevent them from become full-scale disasters. Unfortunately, a Kree strikeforce has other ideas! Force Works is often criticized for its art and storytelling, and while I can understand the first part, I really can't see the second part from this issue. The art is a product of the times (1994), with exagerrated anatomy and lots of scantily-clad babes (Wanda's new outfit is all sorts of wrong, though the gazongas on display here put some of today's cheesecake artists to shame!). But the story by Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning is actually pretty compelling. There was a lot of enthusiasm from the creators and from Marvel itself about this title. It may have been a response to the popularity of the Image team books which were selling like hot cakes at the time, but its a well-thought out response if nothing else. Ultimately the book failed, but this first issue showed a lot of promise insofar as driving things in new directions, even if *sniff* it seemed like Simon got killed (again).
Of some note is that I not only got the first issue, but also the Ashcan preview. The Ashcan tells a little bit more of the story as the Agent and Spider-Woman meet up with the Starstealth outside the compound while the rest of the team is inside. Its not much but its a nice touch and we get introduced to the Agent's new photon-shield. More interesting is Tony's files on the team members and the little comments from the creative team, which supports my claim about enthusiasm. Iron Fans and 90s kids will like this one.
Where I come from, this is 3 bucks well spent! Anyone else have any good Discount Bin Finds?