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Invincible Iron Man #221: Review

Aug 1987
David Michelinie, M. D. Bright

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Story Name:

Ghost in the Machine!

Review & Comments

4 stars

Invincible Iron Man #221 Review by (March 7, 2017)
Comments: Part three of three parts. Title comes from a psychology book by Arthur Koestler describing the relation of mind and body as “the ghost in the machine.” This Flex has no connection to the later Alpha Flight character. Ghost returns in IRON MAN #238-240, working for Justin Hammer. Addendum that didn't make it into the synopsis: Ghost was carrying a cassette tape recording his contract with Roxxon to incriminate them—but it was destroyed in the final battle.

Review: The three-part story wraps up in a satisfying fashion with Tony in an unusual moral dilemma: Save his company and everything he worked for—or save a suicidal villain? Tough call for your typical hero. Which is what Michelinie and Layton had in mind. And the graphics are powerful!


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #221 Synopsis by T Vernon
The Ghost returns to his lair where he repairs his damaged weapons circuits while brooding over revenge against Tony Stark to come at the most appropriate moment....

At a nearby Burger King, a musclebound crusader calling himself Flex announces he is there to rescue the patrons from the scourge of unhealthy eating. Iron Man shows up and shuts him down, leaving him for the police. Shellhead returns to Stark Enterprises where Rhodey is using sophisticated surveillance equipment to detect the presence of the Ghost. While under threat, the building is under yellow alert, as Tony goes around with an armed Rhodey at his side; the staff thinks he is cracking up. He is also concerned about making his loan payments this coming Friday, which he can only do if he interests investors in Accutech's Beta Particle Generator....

That Friday sees Tony addressing a room full of guests, talking up the Generator. The Ghost suddenly appears and shoots Tony—but the blast goes right through him: it's a hologram and this is a trap for the Ghost. The “investors” are security personnel with guns but the villain can vanish and reappear at will and scatters three flying bombs. Shellhead manages to intercept two of them but the third detonates though without many casualties. Meanwhile, the Ghost has departed with a hostage in tow; Iron Man tracks the body heat of the hostage (a guard) and finds the man dead, murdered by the Ghost. He tracks the baddie up to the secret lab where the Beta Particle Generator is hidden. A thrown switch makes the Ghost visible as he approaches the Generator. The Generator overloads the Ghost's electrical system and prolonged exposure may kill him. Unable to face his failure, the Ghost staggers toward the Generator; Shellhead ponders saving him but lets the baddie decide his own fate. Ghost melts through the floor; Iron Man and Rhodey track him down several floors to where the Ghost costume is just a melted slag pile....

Epilogue: The deal with Accutech goes through and Rhodey tells Tony that they can't be certain there were any human remains in the melted slag; Tony wonders how easy it would be to kill a ghost?

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

M. D. Bright
Bob Layton
Bob Sharen
M. D. Bright (Cover Penciler)
Bob Layton (Cover Inker)

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