Wednesday, June 1, 2011

The Classics - Iron Man #11

I was going through some old comics and ran across this issue of Iron Man, which triggered a horrific memory from my youth. (I'll get to the review in a minute - bear with me.)

This was a comic I missed when it hit the newsstands. That sort of thing happened back then (this issue was published in 1969), either because of poor distribution or the comic selling out before I got to the store(s).

It was especially painful because the previous issue ended on a cliffhanger, with the Mandarin about to unmask Iron Man. In those days, there were no comic shops, and (at the age of 13) I didn't really have the money to order back issues through the dealers advertising in the comics (although years later I managed to fill some key gaps that way).

My friend John and I were talking shortly after this issue was printed, and not only did he have the issue - he loaned it to me so I could read it! That may sound shocking to today's collectors, but we did that sort of thing all the time in my neighborhood - we traded comics, loaned them out - they were just something we enjoyed, not valuables to be horded.

At any rate, a few days later I went to return the comic, and I was horrified to find that someone had cut the "Iron Man" logo off the top of the cover! I confronted my older brother, who admitted doing it. One of his friends had the nickname "Iron Man," so he clipped it as a joke to his friend.

I, of course, felt terrible. I had to take the mutilated issue back to John and apologize profusely. He didn't seem angry at all (which surprised me), but I always felt bad about that.

Some years later I tracked this issue down, but I don't think I was ever able to give John proper replacement copy - perhaps he had gone off to college by then. I still feel bad about it, even now.

The funny thing is, as Iron Man's adventures go, this one is just average. Written by Archie Goodwin, it reads like a Silver Age issue of Superman, as Tony Stark goes to ridiculous extremes to protect his secret identity. Of course, Goodwin couldn't write a bad story if he tried, so it also includes several twists and a few tugs at the ol' heartstrings.

The art is by George Tuska and Johnny Craig, one of my all-time favorite teams on this series. Tuska really took to the Marvel "heavy on the action" style, and as per the '60s, his page layouts are dynamic and loaded with energy.

I enjoyed the issue, and was glad to finally see the outcome - but I still wish I'd done a better job of protecting this comic from my brother!

And if by some bizarre chance my friend John is reading this, let me just say one more time - sorry about that!

Grade: B+


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