“Why is it I can never remember where I parked?”

Iron Man volume 3 #55

(If it wasn’t for all the volume numbers this would have been issue #400, hence the big number 400 and why this is a bonus-sized issue.)

Marvel Comics (July, 2002)

WRITER: Mike Grell

LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos

ASSISTANT EDITOR: Marc Sumerak

EDITOR: Tom Brevoort

“Book Of The Ten Rings” finale

PENCILER: Michael Ryan

INKER: Sean Parsons

COLORING: Avalon Studios

“Out Of The Bottle”

ARTIST: Mike Grell

COLORIST: Arisa Rozegar

Iron Man manages to track down Aiysha but their battle is interrupted by Temugin, who takes them both down with the rings. When Tony recovers he finds himself without the armor as Temugin wants to talk face to face. Iron Man will fight Temugin or he will kill Aiysha, and his men want to take her apart for study. In the battle Temugin fights without his father’s rings while Tony fights in his Iron Man suit. And while we don’t see the entire fight it ends with a battered Iron Man crashing on board a icebreaker and Aiysha escaping in the confusion.

So in other words the two plots come together and cancel each other out. There’s no resolution and Iron Man/Tony loses at the end of the story. I’m trying to find the point. The art wasn’t too bad though. However most of my problems with this issue comes from the back-up tale.

After getting home from the events just depicted Tony has to come up with an excuse for his absence. Rumiko doesn’t buy his reasoning and for some reason decides to confront Tony. Why? Why is she even here? Then a robbery happens outside the press conference where Tony mentions a big announcement is coming soon, but he doesn’t actually have anything to announce. I’m not seeing the point in this gathering after the conference either then. Just give out the alibi and move on. And then comes the big problem with this story. During that bank robbery a boy’s dog is about to get hit by a car. So Tony, in front of everybody, puts on the armor and saves the dog. I’m with Rumiko. THIS is the reason you have Tony dropped the identity? No big reveal, no big stakes, no epic confrontation leading to it. He just did it so some kid wouldn’t be sad his dog was run over.

A few arcs back Tony saw a nightmare scenario where his friends were all killed by someone seeking revenge on Iron Man. He went through a lot of trouble to get everyone to lose their memory of his secret identity last time. I get that for whatever reason Grell decided to kill the secret identity angle, which has become a trend at Marvel today with heroes not having secret identities, which is an argument for another time. Suffice it to say I disagree with the decision, as I did when it happened in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However by the MCU’s existence his identity had long since been revealed anyway so it made sense. There were reasons he did it in the movie that made more sense than it does here. It’s such a weak way to reveal his identity to the world from a narrative perspective that even if I agreed with the decision (and I don’t, even to this day because I like the alter ego angle) it was the wrong way to do it. Yes, there are some potentially good stories that can come from this but you won’t be seeing those, or at least good stories that aren’t great Iron Man stories.

This is a rather disappointing arc overall. Two potentially good plotlines tossed out the window when had better dramatic potential separately, and the unceremonious end of Tony’s secret identity. Unfortunately the latter has important significance historically though not for a good reason. Still I really can’t recommend this arc in the end. It’s not satisfying at all.

About ShadowWing Tronix

A would be comic writer looking to organize his living space as well as his thoughts. So I have a blog for each goal. :)

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