Welcome back to this week’s installment of Greg Turner’s RETRO REVIEW, and this week we’ll be looking at Iron Man # 55, from Marvel Comics, with a cover date of February 1973. The cover features Iron Man in battle with two creatures, billed as The Blood Brothers, and a third figure who is crashing through a wall, announcing to all the world that he is The Destroyer! It’s drawn by an unusual pair, Jim Starlin and Joe Sinnott, at least unusual for an Iron Man comic book! The book itself is plotted by Jim Starlin, scripted by Mike Friedrich, pencilled by Jim Starlin and inked by Mike Esposito. The story is entitled; “Beware The … Blood Brothers!”
The book begins with the introduction of a new character, Drax the Destroyer, in chains, sending Iron Man a telepathic message warning him of the Blood Brothers! Unfortunately, it’s too late, as Iron Man is already battling these very foes! The Blood Brothers overcome Iron Man, and the scene shifts back to a prison planet, where Drax is being held captive, and we get our first glimpse of the mad god, Thanos! Friedrich then provides a flashback, which introduces new characters and provides their background and history. We are introduced to Mentor and his two sons, Eros and Thanos, who live on Saturn’s moon, Titan. We are given the history of Thanos and how he opted for creating violence and weapons on the peaceful moon, and how he was exiled and swore vengeance! We also witness the ‘birth’ of Drax, a being formed from the very ground of Titan, by Kronos! We also witness past battles between Drax and Thanos and Drax’s defeat each and every time during this long flashback.
The scene shifts again, back to Earth, where the Blood Brothers haul Iron Man, you remember, the hero of this comic book, in front of their master, Thanos! With the help of Mentor, from far off Titan, Iron Man’s uni-beam is triggered and Drax is set free! Together they battle and defeat the Blood Brothers and then turn their attention towards Thanos … only to find that they are now facing … a robot! Yes, Thanos has escaped while Iron Man and Drax battled the Blood Brothers, and he’s left a booby-trapped robot in his own image! Iron Man and Drax manage to escape the exploding robot which destroys the Blood Brothers and Thanos’ Earth fortress. At this point, Iron Man and Drax part ways, Iron Man to recharge his transistors and Drax to once more take up the trail of Thanos!
This story was quite a bit of a change of pace for Iron Man at the time, and served as the introduction of a number of new characters. Eros, though only a background figure in this story, later became the Avenger, Starfox. Thanos has proven the test of time and remains a major villain in the Marvel Universe. He is closely associated with the Infinity Gems (see the current Avengers comic book for more on those)((or see my video review elsewhere on this site)). And this issue leads directly into Captain Marvel # 25, where Jim Starlin and Mike Friedrich begin to reshape Captain Marvel into a whole new cosmic hero! In fact, this storyline, begun here in Iron Man # 55 continues in Captain Marvel # 25 and runs through issue # 33, a full year later before is comes to its conclusion.
I give this particular book three (3) out of five (5) Legion Flight Rings. The story is intriguing, and a great introduction to characters, that will have an impact on the Marvel Universe, but Esposito is not the best choice in inkers for Jim Starlin, unfortunately. If you include the Captain Marvel run, I would up my grade, to four (4) out of five (5) Legion Flight Rings! But that would be cheating. Do you need this book in your collection? Maybe not, but as I said its the first appearance of Thanos and Eros, so that just might tip the scales and make you want to search it out! Personally, it’s one of my favorite Iron Man comics!