Iron Man vol. 3 #13
Marvel Comics (February, 1999)
“A Question Of Control”
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Sean Chen (with an assist by Pat Zircher)
INKERS: Larry Stucker, Eric Cannon, & Bud LaRosa
COLORIST: Steve Oliff
EDITOR: Bobbie Chase
Tony arrives at the clinic for treatment, unaware that the center is secretly a plot by The Controller to steal the energy and money of his wealthy patients while other pay to have them manipulated for their own purposes. He’s also remotely controlling the armor to run tests but that makes The Controller paranoid and he keeps trying to use mental suggestion to not only convince Tony to fire him (which is a bit difficult) but also tries to manipulate the headstrong Rumiko Fujikawa, who stopped by just to hit on Tony some more. The two do seem to form a relationship but the Controller’s paranoia pushes him further and eventually both Tony and Rumiko push back. ending his plans. Rumiko can’t pull Tony away from his work and thus leaves him…for now.
What they got right: Busiek seems to be using this as an opportunity to explore whether or not Iron Man has become as much as an addiction as alcohol. While I personally don’t like this aspect because that’s not how I like my heroes (hating their superhero life, which may be why I’m a DC person and not a Marvel one) it is in keeping with Tony’s character as this is a recurring concern in his life. And Busiek examines it well enough without overpowering the story. It doesn’t come down on one side or the other whether this is an unhealthy obsession or a responsibility Tony has to use his tech to battle evil. Meanwhile we see the Controller’s obsessions be the source of his downfall while Rumiko’s reasoning for her life making a lot of sense. I remember really not liking her for a while but I don’t think it started here.
What they got wrong: I think the identity of the Controller was revealed too early. Like last issue. Or even leave that teaser but wait until half-way through the story. My thinking is that it could have built up the mystery, letting the reader think everything was fine and then slowly have strange things happen and then reveal the Controller when it had to in order to compare his obsessions with Tony. I don’t hate what we got mind you, this isn’t a critical complaint, just my storytelling brain trying to figure out what I would have done, since these reviews are about getting me to think critically about my own storytelling pursuits.
Recommendation: Another solid story that’s worth picking up.