Iron Man vol. 3 #27
Marvel Comics (April, 2000)
“The Mask In The Iron Man” part 2: “The Dream Machine”
WRITER: Joe Quesada
PENCILER: Sean Chen
INKER: Rob Hunter
COLORIST: Steve Oliff
EDITOR: Bobbie Chase
Mad at Tony, Rumiko dumps him at the hospital. Worried about his friends’ safety, Tony sends them into seclusion. As the weight of things gets worse in light of his identity as Iron Man being revealed he returns to the bottle, even chasing Carol out. That’s when the news reports suddenly flow in about all of Tony’s friends getting killed and the Mandarin arrives, forcing the drunk Tony into his armor. Iron Man manages to defeat Mandarin, and wakes up after realizing it was a dream. The source of the dream is his own armor, because after Whiplash’s attack it’s now alive–and Tony just had a heart attack!
What they got right: There are clues throughout the story that this is a dream. The doctor’s name is “A.I. Keyhole”. The newspaper article starts going blah blah blah blah (although I’m not ruling out the artists thinking you’d miss that and getting lazy–it would be nothing new), how quickly everything escalates, the Mandarin having his second worse costume ever, Tony noting that Mandarin doesn’t have his ring anymore yet he’s using them to attack, and his cracking the armor the same way Whiplash did. The armor was trying to process its new life and ended up going for Tony’s fears, so it does show what Tony is afraid of.
What they got wrong: While all of my real problems are coming in the next few issues, guess what the reason is the armor came to life. Tony has safeguards which were damaged when he downloaded Jocasta and he didn’t think to finish it. Fine, but then Jocasta also blames Y2K. For those of you who missed it, Y2K, or the “millennium bug”, was a possible plague on certain older computers due to not being prepared for “19??” to become “20??” and a whole lot of people were worried this would lead to the end of civilization. (Oddly there weren’t a ton of post-apocalyptic stories based on that.) It turned out to be a non-issue but Quesada probably wrote it when it was still supposed to be the end of days as worst-case scenarios came by the truckload. Even in hindsight this is stupid. The Jocasta download should be enough. I’m also wondering how the armor can mess with Tony’s dreams in the course of a few seconds.
Recommendation: An interesting dive into Tony’s psyche, but it’s a shadow of bad things to come. Mildly recommended at best.