The stories behind the stories

Iron Man #85

“Congratulations! You’re a politician!” — Stu Conrad

“Turf War, Part 2: Uninvited Guests”

Iron Man #85

Iron Man’s mission to retrieve Arsenal Alpha from beneath Avengers Mansion has gone wrong, aggravating his relations with both the government and his friends…
Published by Marvel • June 30, 2004
Written by John Jackson Miller

Art by Jorge Lucas

Lettered by Randy Gentile

Colored by Antonio Fabela

Cover by Steve Epting and Laura Martin

Edited by Tom Brevoort, Andy Schmidt, and Nicole Wiley

My intent in concluding this “Avengers Disassembled: Prologue” sequence was to highlight the tensions between Tony’s old life and the course he had put himself on — and revealing his doubts about staying that course. Thus, Tony is left not where I found him — but at a juncture where any further changes ahead may find their roots.

It’s also the most “traditional” of the stories in the run, featuring a super-hero free-for-all. Jorge did a fine job of choreographing it — especially given the closed quarters required for much of the story. I was pleased to work Warbird in, given that she and Shellhead currently have the same employer.

I also appreciated that the timing of this issue — in June, following the D-Day commemoration – gave me a visual opportunity to bring the story full circle back to the troops, which is where “The Best Defense” started.

In concluding this sequence, Stu Conrad – who managed to appear in all four stories in this run plus a cameo in Crimson Dynamo — plays his continuing role as Tony’s Washington mentor. I was pleased to be able to add to the comics universe at least one savvy career politician who wasn’t venal and corrupt — who had some loftier goals besides (but, of course, including) getting his side re-elected. It’s always a challenge to keep such a character cynical enough not to appear like a walking civics lesson, but I think it’s worth the effort.

My thanks to both the Shellhead team behind the scenes and the fans — an enjoyable working experience, all around.

“You’re not invincible, Tony. But you might just survive around here… if you can grown a little armor.” — Stu Conrad

You can’t see it very well, but that sign on Avengers Mansion says “International Territory. Private! No entry!” Irony intended, of course.

Every time I want to time-travel, I switch on my shortwave radio and listen to the National Institute of Standards time clock, station WWV. It sounds just the way it did when I listened to it on my dad’s old crystal radio back in the 1970s.

The clock has actually been off the air from time to time – the website lists the outage times over the years — but there are redundant channels. I’m pretty sure the one Arsenal “listened” to while underground would have been WWVB, way down at 60 kHz. That one was started up in 1962, the year before Iron Man was created. Sounds pretty much like Cold War time to me.

There is indeed a Sorghum Harvest Festival in Bonaire, swear to God.
Goat stew and all…

I hadn’t been to the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans as of this writing, though I’d heard a lot about it from Richard Weld, who used to work there and who cowrote a good deal of the Scrye Collectible Card Game Checklist & Price Guide. The facility is now known as the National World War II Museum.

Tony’s speech drew on an appropriate stretch of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s radio address to the nation on D-Day. You can hear it, in its entirety, here.

And in the strange coinkydink department, the logo at the top of the cover of these “Avengers Disassembled” issues was crafted to look like it came from an old Dymo labelmaker. Exactly 20 years earlier, I had literally used a Dymo labelmaker to design type in the same place at the top of the cover of the first four issues of my exceedingly low-tech local weekly fanzine, Tripe. (No desktop publishing in that household yet, kids — it was all Smith-Corona typewriter and dot-matrix printer.) That first June 1984 issue also contained my review of Iron Man #186. By the time the fourth one rolled around, I switched the weekly schedule to a monthly one, which happens to be exactly what I was doing with Comics Buyer’s Guide in June 2004. Full circles within circles…