Iron Man volume 3 #21
Marvel Comics (October, 1999)
PLOT: Kurt Busiek & Roger Stern
SCRIPT: Roger Stern
COLORIST: Steve Oliff
PENCILER: Mark Bagley
INKER: Eric Cannon
The Eighth Day prologue: “Strange Things Done In The Midnight Sun”
PENCILER: Tom Grummett
INKER: Art Thibert
In the first story Warbird helps Iron Man deal with a fire at a Roxxon Oil refinery. It’s mostly there to continue the storyline about Tony trying to help Carol with her alcoholism but also mentions the other storyline about another dead Madame Masque, which is identical to the first down to the fingertips. We’re getting close to Furman levels of subplots but the story overall is okay. The only good comes from coloring. One guy’s shirt changes color during a flashback and a couple of the caption boxes have too dark a gradient on them so their hard to read the text in the beginning. Otherwise it’s either here to remind readers (or inform new readers) that these events are going on or because the prologue to the “Eighth Day” mini-event wasn’t long enough.
That story begins with Tony investigating a dig in the arctic for a museum, one that it turns out Abner Little purchased to trick Stark into joining his team. Also along is a local pilot named Sam who really hates the cold but can’t afford to leave. What they find are a pair of giant doors they don’t want to risk damaging but are having trouble finding a way in. Two of Little’s competitors in the Council Of Antiquarians, Count Andreas Zorba and Princess Zanda, arrive in a rather spectacular fashion, causing Iron Man to go into action. During the confusion, Little’s partner, Doctor J. Vernon “Java” Mann, finds a switch that opens a smaller door and Sam stumbles into it, being warm for the first time in a long time, and finds the Brazier Of Balthakk, transforming her into a new villain named Inferno, who plans to unleash the “eighth day”. (Continued in Thor volume 3 #17)
What they got right: The story arc is set up well enough, with a strong threat revealed only at the end, and a swerve in the form of Little’s rivals, who claim they’re only here to help. It’s a plot hinted at during the party a few issues earlier.
What they got wrong: I think they played up Sam’s hatred of the cold a bit much but that’s a personal gripe more than a critical one. I think.
Recommendation: The first story does better reminding the reader of other events better than some other attempts I’ve seen, and allows the crossover prologue to start off without the baggage. Worth checking out if you follow the event or for completion purposes.