This week’s RETRO REVIEW looks at Iron Man #s 10 & 11 from Marvel Comics. They are cover dated; February and March 1968. Issue number ten (10) sports a cover drawn by George Tuska and inked by Frank Giacoia. And here it is:
Iron Man # 10
The issue is entitled; “Once More … The Mandarin!” It’s written by Archie Goodwin with the pencil art done by George Tuska and the inking done by Johnny Craig. The Mandarin at this time was, and maybe still is, Iron Man’s greatest foe, or as they say in the funny books, his arch-enemy!
Since gaining his own solo book less than a year previously, the Mandarin had plagued Iron Man repeatedly. In the previous issue, number nine (9), the Mandarin had send a Hulk android against Iron Man. Now he’s back this issue with a plot to discredit Tony Stark, who the Mandarin believes is actually Iron Man!
He releases doctored photos of Stark meeting with Communist leaders to the local news agencies and the headlines proclaim that Tony Stark is a traitor. The Mandarin’s plan goes so far as to frame the meetings to have happened when Tony on a mission as Iron Man. Therefore, the only way to prove his innocence is to reveal that he, Tony Stark, is actually Iron Man!
The press hound Stark and he chooses to flee until he can think a way out of this jam! He can’t think of a way to resolve the problem, but soon he receives a call from a Mei-Ling telling him to meet her at her shop in Chinatown. He believes it’s a trap, but goes willingly. But before he can enter the shop as Iron Man, Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent, Jasper Sitwell, confront him. He goes with them to lead them away from the shop in Chinatown.
They then fight each other, in the Marvel Silver Age fashion. Iron Man is forced to flee from Fury and his super-powered weapons, that Tony invented himself. Fury calls in the S.H.I.E.L.D. heli-carrier and and Iron Man is forced into playing hide and seek. He rushes to a nearby Cord laboratory and does what Tony Stark does best! But we don’t get to see the results of his lab work until next issue.
As this issue nears it’s conclusion, Iron Man busts into Mei-Ling’s shop and is met by the Mandarin! Iron Man is forced to do battle with a couple of stone statues brought to life by one of the Mandarin’s rings. He manages to destroy the statutes and then goes up against the Mandarin, himself! As they battle, the Mandarin manages to get Iron Man where he wants him and bathes him is a “neutralizer ray”, which cancels out the circuitized power of his armor! The Mandarin plans to unmask Iron Man! It’s at this point that issue ten (10) ends.
Here’s the cover for issue # 11:
Iron Man # 11
Issue eleven (11) features, as you can see above, another nice cover pencilled by George Tuska, with the inks provided by Johnny Craig. The story is entitled; “Unmasked!” and is written by Archie Goodwin and drawn by George Tuska and inked by Johnny Craig, as was the previous issue.
Things begin right where they left off last issue. The Mandarin unmasks Iron Man expecting to reveal Tony Stark, but lo and behold, it’s some blond guy, we’ve never seen before! He tells the Mandarin to turn on the television and they see Tony Stark addressing the media from the Adirondacks! The Mandarin is furious and using his handy belt-teleportation device blinks out to attack Stark!
The blond guy upsets Mei-Ling and she slams out of the lab upsetting a large lamp, thus short circuiting the “neutralizer ray” and then the blond man peels off a latex mask, revealing himself to be our hero, Tony Stark! He then blasts out of the Mandarin’s secret laboratory and rushes to the Adirondacks himself to face off against the Mandarin! As he flys away, he thinks back, and it is revealed that he created a Tony Stark LMD, or Life-Model Decoy, and that is who the Mandarin saw on television.
The scene switches to the Adirondacks where the Mandarin has captured the LMD, who he thinks is the real Tony Stark, but Iron Man breaks in and they battle it out for five pages. As Iron Man is about to defeat the Mandarin, Janice Cord bursts in, thinking to save Tony Stark, but the Mandarin grabs her and holds her hostage! The Mandarin flees to his ship, that Mei-Ling has flown there, with his hostage.
Iron Man follows and breaks though the hull of the ship and once again faces the Mandarin! Janice Cord begs Iron Man to sacrifice her and capture the Mandarin, so that he will not be able to hurt Tony Stark. Mei-Ling, who was earlier revealed to be betrothed to the Mandarin since she was a young girl, see the example that is being set by Janice Cord, willing to sacrifice herself for Tony Stark and steps in front of the Mandarin while he is using his power ray ring! She say she did so because she could not live in a marriage without love and the Mandarin has proven that he has no love for her or anyone else!
Iron Man engages the Mandarin and in the resulting fight the plane is damaged. He manages to grab Janice Cord and flys them to safety and they watch the Mandarin’s ship end in an exploding crash, which presumably kills all aboard! He flys Janice back to the cabin in the Adirondacks only to find emergency medical help rushing the life model decoy of Tony Stark to the hospital for emergency surgery!
The comic ends with Iron Man thinking that the hospital will discover that the LMD is not the real Tony Stark and that the world will learn that that Tony Stark is Iron Man, just like the Mandarin had wanted and planned all along! Another great ending that really made the reader want to pick up the next issue and see how Iron Man would get out of this jam, as well.
See you all next week for another Fabulous Find …