Sunday, August 30, 2009

The Shame of Iron Man #200

This is something that blew me away a few years ago when I first read issue 200 of Iron Man, so I thought I'd write about it here.

Let me start by saying that Iron Man v1 #200, dated November 1985, is one of my absolute favorite issues of Iron Man. Not only that, it is the climax to what I really believe is one of the best story arcs in any Marvel comic, ever. From #163 (published three years earlier in October 1982!) to #200 Tony Stark was dealing with the villain Obadiah Stane. (If the name sounds familiar, it's probably because a drastically altered version of this storyline was used as the basis for the 2008 Iron Man film, with Stane played by Jeff Bridges.) In this unofficially titled "Obadiah Stane Arc", Tony is crushed by Stane, financially, physically, and emotionally, finally spiraling back in to alcoholism. Things get really bad for Tony; he gives up being Iron Man (Rhodey takes over for him and serves as Iron Man for most of the issues in the arc, which leads to it's own troubles), loses his company to Stane, and literally ends up drinking cheap hooch in a gutter. This leads to one of my all time favorite comic book covers, for Iron Man #182.

One of the great things about this arc is that, since it unfolds over a three year period, it is not rushed. The writing really makes you feel like a man could fall that far. In the end, Tony picks his life back up (and that part isn't easy or fast either!) and realizes that, as Iron Man, he has responsibilities that he can NEVER walk away from. I can't stress enough what a great piece of writing this entire arc is. This brings us to the "shame."

In issue 200, Tony realizes that he has been running from his responsibilities as Iron Man for far too long. In the time he's been recovering from alcoholism, he's been thinking about improvements to the Iron Man armor, so he decides that if he's going to go kick Stane's ass, then he needs a new suit! He goes over to the West Coast Avengers compound to pick up the new armor. The suspense builds for the big reveal...

As you turn the page with baited breath, you see THIS:

"Well, I see you took the armor in a TOTALLY different direction, Tony. You sure you're sober?"

Here is the complete page spread, which I think is even more disturbing once you see the similarity in their poses.

Needless to say, when I saw this it took the wind out of me. I can only assume the writers didn't have a choice where the ads were being placed (I don't even know if they do these days). Basically, it shapes up as being one of the worst advertising coincidences in the history of comic books.

I feel like I should say more, but looking at it now I still... damn.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I remember that little alien dude from my random 80's comics. I always liked him. While fitting right in with Muppet Babies and such he does seem to detract from Iron Man