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Iron Man #20: Review

Jun 2022
Christopher Cantwell, Angel Unzueta

Story Name:

Skate or die

Review & Comments

4 stars

Iron Man #20 Review by (June 17, 2022)
Vic Martinelli was introduced in Iron Man vol 1 #132 as Stark International's Security Chief. He was a fairly regular member of the cast in the Michelini/Layton period, and outlasted them to reach #179 with later apps in #199 and #234, and much later in the 1990 Punisher: The Prize 1-shot. But then nothing until now.
We won't get to Vic and Mandarin's Rings next issue or in the Iron Man/Hellcat Annual but in #22.

Dr Shapiro the scientist cat was a feature of the Tony Stark: Iron Man series.

Iron Man's roller-skates 1st appeared while he still had the bulky yellow armour in his early issues of Tales Of Suspense. In #44 he attached wheels to the back of his shoulders and heels, lay on his back and propelled himself along with a mini-jet engine on his head (rather than his boot jets). But then in the next issue he got proper roller skates on his boots, again jet-assisted.
The early versions of his red&gold slim armour retained the skates as seen in IM#56 & #85.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man #20 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue the Korvac saga which has dominated this series was finally over but Tony Stark was left addicted to morphine (since he started using it to deal with the severe injuries he sustained in the middle of that run). Patsy Walker delivered him to the Sagehen Shores rehab centre.

Now 3 months later she's come back to pick him up (though when he had 3 months off from the Avengers I just don't know). She tells him that the Space Friends (the gang he drew together to help him fight Korvac) disbanded but most of them started a Fantasy Football League. James Rhodes, Jim Hammond, Halcyon, Gargoyle and Frog-Man are co-managing, Ben Reilly and Misty Knight are involved and she claims (probably joking) that she invited Silver Surfer but he rarely has an Internet connection. She herself is also involved and is currently League Leader (but Rhodey and Jim are doing well too).

Tony gets a call from Vic Martinelli but ignores it. Patsy takes him to a chicken wings place to watch a Mets game on TV which features some of their players. She says a lot of detailed stuff about (American) football which goes way over the head of English me. Tony hands her a letter he wrote for her while in rehab. We don't get to see or hear what it says but we can gather it includes a proposal of marriage. She tells him "I love you but ..." She reminds him of her previous marriage to Daimon Hellstrom (Son Of Satan) which ended with her spending a long time dead with demons in Hell. (She doesn't mention her 1st marriage to Buzz Baxter which also ended in divorce, with her becoming Hellcat and him becoming very minor bad guy Mad Dog.)

Later Stark holds a rooftop press conference to unveil Stark Unlimited's latest (quite large) supercomputer, the Exascale 5150. He ignores another call from Martinelli. While doing loads of other stuff simultaneously the computer will (as a publicity stunt) play a master-level timed chess game. But the press are more interested in Tony. They want to know if he's back in an active role in the company (no), how was rehab (good, but he'll always have an addictive personality), does he miss having the power of a god (while fighting Korvac and after) (no, but some of the post-Korvac stuff turned out to be useful), why did Korvac save his life last issue (he has no answer).

But at last he's able to introduce the computer's opponent Chet the super-intelligent gorilla from Empire State U's advanced zoological cognition program. Chet takes Tony aside and asks if he could get a job at SU. Stark says he's not running the company these days but he'll pass on the request. However Chet takes this as a species-ist brush off, particularly annoying as they have Dr Shapiro the cat running a whole department. But he takes his seat opposite a hologram avatar of the 5150.

Meanwhile Patsy is mulling over Tony's proposal. On the 1 hand he's not a demon, but on the other he did kill the Space Friends when they tried to reign him in (#17) (but he did bring them back to life and apologise). Does she love him or does she just love trying to fix him?

Back at the chess match the 5150 is winning, and Stark predicts a 9-move ending. Chet moves his piece but removes the bishop he's captured with his other hand, which is a rookie illegal manoeuvre. 5150 is awarded 2 extra minutes of playing time but 'he' protests that the gorilla did it to gain 'himself' more time to rethink his strategy, and so he should be declared winner now. They start to argue, Tony tries to calm them down but Chet tips over the board and goes on a rampage. He knocks Stark off the roof but Tony's armour is automatically assembled by its AI BOSS and sent to save him. (He is forced to ignore another call from Vic.)

However Chet logs in to Stark's laptop and infiltrates BOSS to shut down most of Iron Man's systems. He can't fire his repulsor rays and his boot jets stop working. Chet leaps on him and they both go over the edge of the roof (it turns out to be only a 5-floor tenement building). IM gets away when they land and starts to run away through the traffic. Chet is closing in while Tony reviews what armour options do still work, and he activates the roller-skates in his boots to zoom off. So Chet appropriates a passing moped and gives chase. (Patsy concludes that she loves Tony more than she ever loved her 2 previous husbands, and unlike them he's a grown-up.) But she can't see Chet grab a sword from a statue of Daredevil (commemorating his activity in War Of The Realms) to which the Golden Avenger grabs a flagpole to use as a jousting lance to knock his opponent of his scooter. Iron Man declares himself a winner, but still advises Chet to send his CV to SU.

Later Tony lets Patsy into his apartment (missing yet another call from Vic) and she shows him the Daily Bugle's unflattering version of the fight. She tells him she does love him even more than she thought, but she can't accept his proposal right now. And we see Vic Martinelli still desperately trying to get hold of his old boss. And he seems to have Mandarin's 10 Rings (not to be confused with the 10 Rings that Shang-Chi now has in both his Comics Universe and Cinematic Universe versions).

Angel Unzueta
Angel Unzueta
Frank D'Armata
Alex Ross (Cover Penciler)
Alex Ross (Cover Inker)
Alex Ross (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.


(Patsy Walker)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Vic Martinelli.

> Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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