Iron Man volume 3 #56
Marvel Comics (August, 2002)
“Sympathy For The Devil” part 1
WRITER: Mike Grell
PENCILER: Jean Reis
INKER: Joe Pimental
COLORIST: Arisa Rozegar
LETTERER: Chris Eliopoulos
ASSISTANT EDITORs: Marc Sumerak & Andy Schmidt
EDITOR: Tom Brevoort
Tony tells Rumiko the reason he opened up about being Iron Man to the public and it’s not about the uptick in stock or that Fujikawa has agreed to a 49% split of the remaining stock in Stark/Fujikawa, with Rumiko giving him the remaining 2% she owns as an apology. This leads to the two fully reconciling and the relationship is back on. Their time together is interrupted by a satellite falling out of the sky. Iron Man manages to stop it and heads home to recharge his heart before getting some hottub time with Rumiko, though she’s not who he’s thinking about on the recharge chair.
What they got right: I love the art in this issue. It’s just really good, both the linework and the coloring. Rumiko seems to have matured as a person without losing that independent streak that made her interesting as a character. Friday the holographic virtual assistant is still the best addition to the series but I will give Grell credit for fixing what was wrong with Rumiko without ruining what was good about her. The story itself I have no problem with.
What they got wrong: It’s the details Grell gets wrong. He’s still pushing the idea that Tony retains feelings for Pepper, when we saw with the previous writer he doesn’t, as if Grell wants to separate Pepper and Happy while his predecessors for volume three were trying to push them back together. And if that’s the case why bring Rumiko back at all? Then there’s Tony’s reasoning for dropping the identity, that the bad guys have “got to know that I’ll be around and there’s going to be a price to pay”, which they should have already known since he’s a superhero and one of the still active founders of the Avengers. We also see Tony fight off some muggers attacking an old woman (who can take care of herself thank you very much), and how it feels good to help someone without running off to armor up. I think this is Grell’s actual reason for dropping the identity, like HE felt it got in the way. Why couldn’t Tony fight off a few muggers on his own? He was still trained by Captain America and it’s not like he went looking for bad guys to fight as himself. I still don’t agree with Grell’s reasoning or the attempt to push for a Tony/Pepper romance at this stage.
Recommendation: All the problems I have with this story is based solely on personal preference for the characters. As a critic it’s still a really good story and I did enjoy reading most of it. It’s one to look into, especially now that Tony/Pepper is or was a thing in the MCU. (Please stop spoiling Endgame when I still haven’t seen Infinity War.)