The stories behind the stories

Iron Man #76

“Stark isn’t some god — no matter what he thinks!” — Sonny Burch

“The Best Defense, Part 4: Advice and Consent”

Iron Man #76

With confirmation his only chance to stop a dangerous rogue Pentagon operation, Tony Stark fights his past to save the future — in combat with the United States Senate!
Published by Marvel • January 2004
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Jorge Lucas

Inked by Norm Rapmund

Lettered by Randy Gentile

Colored by Antonio Fabela

Cover by Adi Granov

Edited by Tom Brevoort

For the first time in this storyline, Jorge Lucas took an inker, Norm Rapmund (attributed on the cover but not inside). There’s a tremendous amount of detail in this issue, and I’m gratified that the art team was able to handle it all. I could have provided lettering keys for even more — for example, for the Senators’ placards — but I figured it was the season of mercy!

Internet news engine The Scoop said it was hard to imagine more going on this issue, and it’s intentional for sure. If you have to set eight pages of an action comic book in a debate club, you’d better be ready for a lot of interludes. Looking at it another way, the Senate pieces are almost interludes to all the other pieces moving on the board…

The tone of Tony Stark’s responses to the Senate here was something I dwelled upon for a long time. We have here a armsbuilder-turned-pacifist — who still beats bad guys up in his spare time — on a job interview to take charge of the world’s most efficient killing machine. Given the responsibilities of the Secretary of Defense, especially after September 11, this wasn’t (unlike his interaction with the press) something he was going to be able to mug his way past.

So it’s a very serious sequence — and depending on whether the reader buys Tony’s responses, the ending may or may not come as a surprise. It was certainly calculated as such on my part, given the fait accompli nature the fan press had given the nomination in the beginning.

“You think the smartest guy should be in charge — and you think that guy is you.” — Senator Zimmer

The Senate Armed Services Committee has 25 members and was chaired in 2003 by Senator John Warner, who appears in the issue. There are a lot of real-life members of the panel milling here and there — Hillary Clinton is there.

Things look a little rocky at the Patuxent test site — more arid than you’d expect in Maryland. Of course, it’s a barren staging area for testing. Jorge depicts an Abrams and two Bradleys lumbering towards the Oscorp guys.

The abbreviation UAV stands for unmanned aerial vehicle, meaning the Kestrels are in the same family with the real-life Predators and Globalhawks. They’re not necessarily that light, despite what Commander Rayburn says here.

The Crimson Dynamo that appears here in the flashback from Iron Man Vol. 1 #22 is the second one, who had the operatic name of Alex Nevsky. We see him twice this month, in fact, as he appears in a flashback in Crimson Dynamo #5.

The committee hearings take place in the Russell Senate Office Building, despite one balloon heading to the Capitol. Our three Senator readers would care, but that;’s about it. Much more surprising is seeing editor Tom Brevoort appearing in the panel above, with the Senate aides!

Edgewood Arsenal is near Aberdeen Proving Ground, and both my grandfather and a coworker worked there for a while. I imagine there are interesting things there, although not so interesting as what Sonny Burch has socked away.

Yes, there really was an oddball Iron Man villain King Midas in the 1970s, and he does indeed duplicate armor around about Vol. 1, #106. Readers of that story were probably as surprised to see it mentioned after all this time as I was that I remembered details from it. I promise this is all of ol’ Midas we’ll see…