The stories behind the stories

Iron Man #75

“Mister Stark, I have to ask what millions of Americans have been asking since your announcement: Were you hit on the head too many times by the Mandarin?” — Christine Everhart

“The Best Defense, Part 3: Technology”

Iron Man #75

Tony Stark demonstrates some of his “velvet glove” ideas for the military to the press, which has plenty of questions for the nominee. He steals the spotlight from Sonny Burch, who plots a two-pronged counterstrategy with his political cronies: fight the nomination, while rushing as many Stark systems into production as possible…
Published by Marvel • December 10, 2003

Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Jorge Lucas

Lettered by Randy Gentile

Colored by Antonio Fabela

Cover by Adi Granov

Edited by Tom Brevoort, Andy Schmidt, and Marc Sumerak

Jorge Lucas did a fine job this issue, which had a large number of scene shifts as we went to see what others had to think about Tony’s surprise nomination. his lighting.

I don’t doubt a few readers were anxious for Iron Man to begin hitting something by this issue, and we were happy to oblige with Tony’s demonstration. It’s logical and makes a point about his candidacy — just as Iron Man’s second appearance, later this issue, makes a different kind of point.

That said, in large measure, this part of the story is about whether Tony Stark can solve a problem that in past “armor wars” would have been solved by Iron Man and brute force. The jury’s still out, as of this issue, as to whether that’s possible — but he’s giving it a try.

That last splash page is one of my favorites. Tom Brevoort suggested the looming Iron Man in the background, one of those wonderful comics devices we’re all familiar with. (If you’re not, you were probably wondering why all the journalists weren’t reporting on the giant red guy menacing Washington, behind them.)

And Christine Everhart, introduced in this issue, appears in the Iron Man movie, played by Leslie Bibb!

“I became Iron Man because I was no longer satisfied with just making money. Maybe now, I’m no longer satisfied with just contributing to the world as Iron Man.” — Tony Stark

This issue’s title (which only appears on the recap page because I forgot to find a place for it in the opening sequence) is “Technology,” which plays off both the weapons Tony’s showing and reflects the many ways people hear about his ideas this issue – radio, TV, Internet. And yes, the first three titles give you Sonny Burch’s job title  — “Acquisition,” “Logistics,” and “Technology.” (Burch himself delivers the overarching story title this issue, stating that the business and political enemies Tony’s made in his lifetime were “the best defense against this nomination.”)

I’m not a big fan of the “leaping armor” — it’s a bear to explain quickly – but it definitely helped out in the demonstration scene. We also didn’t slow down for an explanation of how Tony Stark knew which of the people in the demonstration were armed, but you can read more about that little trick in Iron Man #80.

Believe it or not, there really is a licensee making Iron Man plush toys, like the one seen in this story. My kid finds it really handy to hit me with.

Dig the wall around Avengers Mansion. With The Avengers now a sovereign state in their title, it strikes me you’ve got a Vatican City/Rome thing going on now in the middle of Marvel Manhattan. I’m curious to know whether you have to exchange currencies when going from the front yard to the street…

The Termite is a decent pick for one of the sillier Iron Man villains of all time, hence his use here. But then, I couldn’t figure out a way to put the Black Lama in a jail on our Earth, and Editor Tom Brevoort assures me that Mister Doll, my first choice, suffers from an unfortunate case of death.

The slogan behind Sonny Burch, “Security and Prosperity: Partners for America!” continues a bit I had Jorge incorporate into a scene in #74, as well. American politicians aren’t happy unless they’re standing in front of a static, simple restatement of their views – since they know they’ll only have maybe ten seconds on camera on the evening news. (The Bush administration does lots of it, to various effect; recall the infamous “Mission Accomplished” banner on that aircraft carrier.) Watch some speeches sometime – some of the messages are pretty subtle, right from the school of subliminal advertising…

Simon Gilbert was a nefarious member of Tony Stark’s board of directors back in the early 1970s, in real time. Since then he’s gotten much older and has lost most of his hair.

Tony Stark’s congressional collapse really happened way back in Tales of Suspense #84, and the dialogue is straight from there.

There was some alternation in the way Tony’s 1960s senatorial nemesis was named in the comics; Craig “Mr. Silver Age” Shutt assures me it was usually Harrington Byrd, while my reference had it as Harrison Byrd. Byrd’s a popular name for Senators, given Robert Byrd, Harry Sr., and Harry Jr.

Why’s Tony Stark walking away from the Capitol? Because this particular set of Armed Services Committee hearings is being held at the Russell Senate Office Building, kind of catercornered across Constitution Avenue from the Capitol. Figure the avenue’s behind all those cars somewhere.

Adi Granov, cover artist for this issue, would go on to great fame — and role designing armor for the Iron Man movie, thanks in part to the exposure his work on covers for this run received. This was his first Iron Man cover for Marvel; he would do eight more in a row for the title.