page one playboy late-breaking stories funk bartok wedding dark elvis
Frankie "Kash" Waddy
Frankie "Kash"
Inside the World of a
P-Funk Time Lord
Beau Boeckmann
Custom Car Nirvana
at Galpin Ford
Kenny Gravillis
Kenny Gravillis
Smart Art for Hip Hop
and Hollywood
T.J. Hooker
T.J. Hooker
Desperate Hours of a
T.V. Ham
Five-O Undercover
Daredevil Alley
Daredevil Alley
Super Joe Reed, Janet Lee, Evel Bowevel
King Crimson
King Crimson
Prickly Prog-Rockers
Hold Court on Sunset
Kam Fong
Kam Fong
a.k.a. Chin Ho Kelly
The Five-O Farewell
George W. Bush
Regime Change
The Case for One Term
40 Years
January 1963
Playboy Magazine
Kris & Rita
30 Years
Kris & Rita – 1973
20 Years
Iron Man – 1983
Kerry Von Erich
10 Years
Kerry Von Erich
Previously on Five-O
Issue Two
Swingtime Strippers
Issue One
New World Evel
Iron Man #169
Marvel Comics
Some things are better with age. Like a robust Pinot Noir. Like a loyal hunting dog. Like your own deluded embellishments of the best sexual experience you ever had.

Other efforts fare worse beneath the tank treads of Father Time. Take 1983 in True Believer Land, for example. It’s arguable that 1983 is the worst year in the Modern Age of Comics. The Claremont/ Byrne X-men had reached its zenith just previous; by 1983 those mind-bending mutants of upstate New York had been transformed into an insipid team of galaxy-trotters, with Cyclops’ dad a swashbuckling solar system-hopper in charge of the even more insipid group called the Star Jammers.

Spider-Man was enmeshed with big-time storylines that include Arch-Villain Stilt Man. Stilt Man?!? Get real. Even true blue Friends of Old Marvel could see there was a dangerous skid going on. FOOM!

Across midtown the talented DC team of Marv Wolfman and George Perez had shot their creative wads on the first 12 issues of the New Teen Titans; 1983 opens with Titans sermonizing "Kids, don’t become junkies!" Unfortunately, it doesn’t post the mean-street credentials (or the Neal Adams pencils) that made watching Speedy (Green Arrow’s sidekick) getting hooked on smack so darn enjoyable about ten years earlier.

Over at the Baxter Building, the Fantastic Four manage, for the bazillionth time, to trot out a cover that proclaims, "It CAN’T be! Reed is...DEAD!" It wasn’t true, of course, but the reader soon wished it were, as Reed and Sue decided to retire so they can raise poor little Franklin like a normal boy. Yawn.

Power Man and Iron Fist, one of my specialties in those days, had descended from Himalayan peaks of brilliant action and snappy dialogue into a long barren plain of buddy-superhero mediocrity. Highlighting the rapid decline, the masterful artwork of Kerry Gammill was replaced by that of Denys Cowan, who in this writer’s laser vision still holds the distinction of producing some of the sketchiest chicken-scratch art ever published in comic book form.

And yet, amidst the dry wanderings in this ‘80s storytelling desert, there was still some prime entertainment to be had. Not good, Silver Age-strength, grab-you-by-the-lapels action, but inadvertent kicks more in line with the "Speedy is hooked on heroin" social melodrama.

This particular life lesson for budding boozers of the Reagan Age came courtesy of Tony Stark himself, the Invincible Iron Man. As it turns out, Iron Man is invincible to every foe, man or beast, save one: namely the eternal threat referred to in many a Texas church house as The Soul-Stealing Unholy Demon o’ Rotgut Likker!!!

Iron Man #169 (Denny O’Neil - writer; Luke McDonnell - penciler) opens with Shellhead levitating around midtown destroying every billboard he can find advertising booze - by flying through them. Safe enough target for Marvel - they couldn’t even advertise the hard stuff! Let’s see them decry the dangers posed to society the Daisy repeating BB rifle, or the diabolic threat posed by Big League Chew and Hostess Snack Cakes to diabetic tots nationwide.

So what the hell is going on? The picture clarifies when we discover how Ol’ Ironsides rewards himself for defending the city from the insidious onslaught of outdoor advertising. You guessed it: four fingers of rotgut. The hootch. Hi-test. The unclean spirits of Dr. Jim Beam.

He then passes out.

Oh yeah, there’s a villain too, some chump named Magma, a bench-warmer who rides around in a big mechanical tripod that looks like the alien ships from "War of the Worlds."

Iron Man at first would seem to be one of the weakest Marvel heroes of the major arcana in terms of his perennial foes. But recall that we do have the Mandarin, who ranks below Galactus, Dr. Doom, the Kingpin and the Red Skull, yes, but perhaps above the Leader, all of Daredevil's other foes except maybe Bullseye, and every disposable pimp in day-glow tights Luke Cage ever tussled with. Really it's Daredevil who had the cruddiest roster of foes. He had to import Electro when Spidey was tangling with Stilt-Man (yes, Stilt-Man!). Of course, it was Spidey himself who battled the Rocket Racer, a truly embarrassing skateboard villain, nearly as deafening as the roller-discoing Dazzler in sounding the death knell of comics as the coolest force in the universe.

But let’s be fair. What Iron Man did have big time is the best Commie and Oriental Peril-type Villains - the nationalist Nipponese mutant Sunfire, the "Behind The Steel Curtain" juggernauts Crimson Dynamo and Titanium Man. Who but a Yankee imperialist running dog could question their revolutionary battle prowess?

For his part, Magma is bent on paying Iron Man back for some defeat suffered back in a stray issue of Marvel Team-Up, not exactly the red-hot branding iron of vengeance that makes for a compelling conflict. Still, the quickest way to get Iron Man’s attention is, of course, to attack the Stark Industries compound, which is exactly what Magma does.

In the initial encounter, Tony "Stolichnaya" Stark is quickly bested by Magma, due either to being soused or to being pummeled with dialogue such as, "You are flying ERRATICALLY - and SLOWLY! Perhaps my blast damaged you?"

Defeated, "Wild Turkey" Tony retreats to recharge his armor and pound a couple of hi-balls.

He then passes out.

Tough times demand tough men, but all we’ve got laying around is Jim Rhodes, Stark’s personal pilot. Before his eyes roll up in his head, Stark blabs everything to Rhodes about his super-secret persona.

With Stark unconscious, Rhodes strips his armor off and dons it himself. The issue ends with Stark propped up against a wall, wearing naught but his tighty whitey briefs whilst Rhodes muses, "Soon as I drop this helmet on, I’ll actually be Iron Man! Then what?"

Beats me, but I would recommend rolling "Stony" Tony onto his stomach so he doesn’t choke on his own vomit.

Rhodes spends most of issue #170 trying to figure out how the armor works while Magma smacks him around with more bad dialogue. Jockey-clad Stark spends his time trying to get access to one of his old suits of armor and drinking harder than an Irish cop on Election Day.

Then, for no particular reason, Smegma or whatever his name is exits his indestructible mecha-pod and confronts his foe face-to-face - which provides the new Iron Man ample opportunity to defeat him mano-a-mano. A real nose-holder, even for a 13 year-old.

Now comes the epilogue, where Stark tells Rhodes to keep the armor, he’s got other things to do - like keep a noontime date for cocktails with an unnamed actress. In this fashion does Rhodes become the first Black Iron Man.

And so one lesson rings clear for impressionable young readers - if drunken carousing appeals to you more than defending humanity, you can always turn the hero suit over to a helpful black guy who’s itching to let fly with some ass-whomping repulsor rays. The public won’t know the difference, and with a hot babe on your lap and your eyes crossing like Jim Morrison’s, neither will you.

Excelsior, everyone, and until next time - Flame On!

World Poker Tour
World Poker Tour
Introducing the NASCAR
of Texas Hold-em
Tree Sitter
Tree Sitter
John Quigley
Onboard "Old Glory"
The 400-Year Old Oak
Bartok Takes A Bride
Eqyptian Theatre
All-Stars Party
with Thai Elvis
Malvin Wald
Malvin Wald
The Naked City Writer
on Al Capone and
Ronald Reagan
HEll House
Hell House
Interview with Filmmaker
George Ratliff
The Conqueror
Bow Down, Tartar Dogs!
It's John Wayne as
Genghis Khan
Film Noir
Film Noir Fest 2003
Black Lightning Strikes
at the Egyptian
Forrest J Ackerman
86th Birthday Bash for
Famous Monster
Funk Photos
The Funk Does
Charlton Heston
Omega Man
A Very Lemmy
Yuletide at the
Rainbow Room
Charles Phoenix
Charles Phoenix
Big Laughs in
Xmas Parade
The Hollywood
Christmas Parade
Unholy Spectacle of
Glitter and Filth
theron productions