Friday, March 17, 2006

"When strikes Diablo"
Iron Man #159 When: June 1982
Writer: Roger McKenzie Artist: Paul Smith

The story so far...
Once upon a time, the Fantastic Four battled and captured the diabolical alchemist called, Diablo.

Fearing the Fantastic Four under estimated the foe, Dr. Strange went about casting a spell that thwarted Diablo's escape efforts. For Diablo, it felt as though he were in an endless freefall, until his memory was no longer his, and in his stead stood only Al Bido, Stark International janitor.

With his supressed memories reemerging, Diablo uses his vantage point to take full advantage of the fantastic chemical facilities granted to him at Stark International. Thus, the invincible Iron Man is forced into action anew, to protect his own company.

Tale of the tape...
Iron Man's one of those characters that has such a sliding scale of abilities, it can be pretty tough to really nail down what his capabilities are. I tend to think there's a generally accepted standard for a good [Tony Stark] Iron Man, so hopefully you all tend to agree.

Strength: 5 (Super strength)
Intelligence: 5 (Professor)
Stamina: 6 (Generator)
Energy Powers: 5 (Lasers)

Generally the Iron Man armor grants Tony Stark some pretty standard strengths.
By means well disguised, the armor greatly increases his strength both defensively, and offensively, enabling him to lock up with some of the toughest of bruisers in the Marvel universe.
The armor also provides a fairly comprehensive arsenal of attack weapons, the best known of which are his trademark "repulsor rays". There are also variations on this weapon ranging from retractable shoulder mounts, and chest beams.

As time has gone by, the lifespan of the armor's power has increased exponentially, ranging from various fuelling methods, including solar power. This in turn has greatly increased the stamina of an armored Stark not suffering from physical ailments.

Of course, Stark isn't without his own strengths, as both experienced in the suit, and also the brilliant mind who created it. Engineering tasks are often easily dealt with, even by shortcut methods, and most variables are accounted for.
Strengths not seen in others to don the armor, like Happy Hogan and Jim Rhodes.

Intelligence: 5 (Professor)
Energy Powers: 4 (Arsenal)

Of course, Diablo is not without his own strengths, largely stemming from his own intellect. As a brilliant alchemist, Diablo is capable of utilizing the most base of elements with twisted, and demented results.

To reflect his potential for chemically enduced carnage, he has an arsenal rating for energy powers. Though potentially capable of a higher rating, generally Diablo's choices seem to be less of an explosive persuasion, and more inclined to the animation of creatures like the Dragon Man.

Of course, the nature of Diablo's creatures, as powerful as they are, lend themselves to termination. Heroes like Iron Man, generally unwilling to kill, are far less concerned where the magically animated are concerned. Although, I'm sure that raises many ethical questions, of which Iron Man should probably consider.

Ultimately, against a character like Diablo there are a lot of potential variables, and the most unlikely of elements could play a crucial part. Traditionally iron is one of the most powerful minerals of the occult, so against Diablo's alchemist powers, he may just be safe.

Regardless, given his track record, Diablo is a one-time A-lister who didn't have the stuff to do more than play a regular annoyance to the Fantastic Four.
Iron Man's a safe bet.

What went down...
Doing away with the psychiatrist that unlocked his supressed memories; Diablo uses his alechemist's bag of tricks to disguise himself as Tony Stark to send all laboratory scientists home, opening to him a veritable funhouse of possibilities.

When the call comes out, Stark leaps from his armor workshop to do battle with the mysterious threat posed by previously mild-mannered, Al Bido.
When Iron Man arrives to rip the sealed doors of the chemical reasearch lab open, he finds himself confronted with a two headed monster - literally - unlike the hangover of those drunken one night stands.

With security firing on the dragon beast, Iron Man draws it's attentions away, taking a superheated blast of fire breath. The protective properties of the armor ensure his safety, allowing him to strike back with disintegrating results.

Entering the darkened laboratory, Iron Man falls victim to an attack at the hands of the lurking Diablo, encased in a block of solid ice!
While Diablo gloats and lines up his next target, the Fantastic Four, the ever crafty Tony Stark uses the armor's thermal units to weaken the ice and blast free.

Diablo hurls tornado "devil dust" in Iron Man's general direction, forcing the battle outside as Iron Man tries to escape, only to find a sentient elemental fire chasing him down and clinging to his armor.
He turns the two weapons to his advantage, using the whirling winds of the devil dust to douse the flames, and then his repulsor rays blow the dust out of orbit.

Diablo continues his bizarre assault, giving life to the very sidewalk below, raising a monolith of concrete. The creatures smacks Iron Man around, battering him like a ragdoll, before moving in for the killing stroke.

The creature slams down at the floored Iron Man, but the creature's weight drives the invincible Iron Man through the ground into the levels below. The two plummet down, down, down, through each level, as Diablo explores what is unearthed.
There, he makes a discovery most terrible - Tony Stark's Iron Man workshop!

Using his evil science, Diablo animates previous incarnations of the Iron Man armor ranging from the original bulky suits, to the previous incarnations of his current, streamlined outfit.

Beneath a hail of armored punches, Stark finds himself mobbed by his own creations - doomed!
Or is he? Without the heart Tony Stark brings to the suit, the armor proves ineffective, falling before their master one by one, leaving only Diablo and a very angry Iron Man.

Diablo proves more resourceful than one might think, using Iron Man's untamed aggression to toss one of his potions that turns the air around his opponent into a binding, dense gas.

Believing him restrained, Diablo reaches in to unmask the golden avenger, unaware of Stark's security measures. When he hand meets contact with the visor, he finds only unforgiving, untamed electricity.

With Diablo defeated the gas wears off, leaving only a call to the Fantastic Four to take the villain away.

"Aw, them playboy types're all the same, Susie. Not a care in the world. Right, Iron-Pants?"

If only you knew, Thing!

The hammer...
Undoubtedly the win goes to Iron Man, despite having a pretty rough time of it. Perhaps I under estimated Diablo, in the same way the Fantastic Four did, the first time they had him in custody.

It will be interesting to see how the upcoming Marvel Civil War affects the relationship between these a-list heroes.

Details of the event are as yet sketchy, but a lot of theories point toward a rift between the heroes on policy regarding the registration of superhero secret identities. A theme seen in various ways in superhero stories past, including Powers storylines by the ever-involved, Brian Michael Bendis.

One tends to imagine that won't be the case, particularly with characters like the publicly known Fantastic Four appearing alongside Iron Man, who appears to be the head of the faction opposing Captain America.
Having gone public with his identity as Iron man, Tony Stark served as American secretary of defense, before reconvincing the populous he was no longer Iron Man, resigning in the aftermath of the events of Avengers: Disassembled.

Regardless, Iron Man remains a long standing favourite character, who really seems to still have wells of untapped potential. Warren Ellis' recent (oft delayed) run with hotshot artist, Adi Granov (see Iron Man profile pic), seemed to elaborate on some of the greater potential of the technologies involved in Iron Man, but the title does seem to remain forever stooped in the superhero culture that cultivated the character.

Although understanding the desire for identity away from the mecha themed Japanese manga characters, one does tend to wonder if Iron Man could benefit from an injection of that techno-pop, cyberpunk culture.

Perhaps Iron Man remains at his core a reflection of American mechanical, and technological manufacturing. Not necesarily renowned for it's longevity, or it's total effectiveness, much like Iron Man's ever changing armor styles.

Love him or hate him, it's great to have Iron Man officially on the board at Secret Earths!

The Fight: 3 The Issue: 3

NEXT: A battle for the human race! Flash versus Quicksilver!

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