For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.
IRON MAN Vol 1 #54 (January 1973)
Title: Sub-Mariner: Target for Death
Villain: Moon Dragon (Her first appearance)
NOTE: This issue was co-written and co-illustrated by Bill Everett, who created the Sub-Mariner back in 1939 (BEFORE Aqua-Man), when Marvel Comics was known as Timely Comics.
Synopsis: We pick up an unknown amount of time after the previous issue. Tony Stark is now in Seattle, restructuring much of the Stark International corporate activities there to fit into his company’s new direction of no weapons manufacturing.
Our hero reflects to himself how the mysterious new supervillain the Black Lama escaped in our previous installment after his disciple Raga was defeated. (The Black Lama will emerge as a major adversary of Iron Man in the near future.)
Elsewhere, deep below the waters of the Pacific Ocean, a vessel constructed through the superior technology of the Eternals of Titan travels like a submarine for the moment. This vessel launches a futuristic satellite into orbit, a satellite with cloaking tech and other capabilities.
On board that subaquatic vessel is Moon Dragon (Heather Douglas), currently using the idiotic nom de guerre “Madame MacEvil.” (LMAO) Besides the stupid name, Marvel’s writers had clearly not yet fully decided on her backstory or on what role she would play in the Thanos War being set up in this issue.
NOTE: I will ignore this future Avenger’s soon-to-be-retconned personality in this story and provide you readers with her actual background: Moon Dragon was Heather Douglas, an Earthling whose parents were killed by one of Thanos’ scout ships when she was a child.
Mentor, the Eternal of Titan who was the father of Thanos, intercepted the dying soul of Heather’s father Arthur with the help of his own father Kronos and transformed it into Drax the Destroyer. He created Drax to one day kill his evil son Thanos if necessary.
Meanwhile, Mentor and his fellow Eternals who live inside of Saturn’s moon of Titan, raised Heather Douglas, using their technology to bring out incredible psychic powers in her. They also taught her the kind of “super-martial arts” that Mantis was taught by the Kree-born Priests of Pama.
Back to our story, Moon Dragon interacts with her craft’s talking computer, making it clear to us readers that she wants to experiment on Earth beings, in this particular case, the Sub-Mariner (Prince Namor of Atlantis).
NOTE: We are not told this yet, but she is doing this as part of her plans to find and/or create super-powered beings able to fight against Thanos in his current war with her and her fellow Titans.
Moon Dragon’s technology will let her override Iron Man’s armor at will, and her experiment today will involve using him to help her capture Sub-Mariner to use as a subject. To that end she now has her submarine fire a device at an iceberg near Antarctica.
The device causes the iceberg to explode and overwhelm a freighter passing by Sub-Mariner’s location. Namor uses his massive strength to save the crew and return their ship to its upright position. Next he begins following the orange trail in the ocean that Moon Dragon’s missile device left behind, thus luring him into the villainess’ trap.
With Sub-Mariner approaching her at high speed, Moon Dragon uses her tech to take control of Iron Man’s armor as he flies along above Seattle at the moment. She manipulates the armored hero like a puppet, making him attack and battle Namor. In the meantime, she has her submarine rise to the surface.
The destructive fight between Iron Man and Sub-Mariner in the waters off Seattle goes on for quite a while. Eventually, Tony Stark figures out that his armor is being controlled by a transmission from Moon Dragon’s craft.
Fighting against Moon Dragon’s control, Iron Man manages to hold back until Sub-Mariner happens to be in between him and Moon Dragon’s vessel. He then purposefully fires his repulsor rays slowly enough to let Namor dodge them, but have them hit the vessel from Titan.
This damages Moon Dragon’s vessel enough to free Iron Man from her control. He immediately cuts off fighting Namor and flies back to land. For his part, Sub-Mariner’s distrust of people from the surface world has been reenforced, but he heads for home rather than pursue Iron Man into the streets of Seattle.
Moon Dragon has her vessel submerge again, vowing revenge on Iron Man in the future.
NOTE: Moon Dragon will soon appear in the pages of Daredevil & the Black Widow, where the super-soldiers she tries to create to fight Thanos’ agents will instead become supervillains opposed by DD and the Widow.
IRON MAN Vol 1 #55 (February 1973)
Title: Beware the Blood Brothers
Villains: Thanos and the Blood Brothers (First appearance for all three of them.)
NOTE: This marks the first appearance of Thanos and his minions in his war that will be waged in multiple issues of Iron Man, Captain Marvel, the Avengers and Daredevil & Black Widow.
Synopsis: Our story this time picks up an unknown number of days or weeks after the previous issue. Tony Stark has been back in New York at Stark International’s Long Island headquarters for a while.
We readers are shown Drax the Destroyer in his very first appearance, but we are not yet told that he is really Moon Dragon’s transformed father. The Destroyer is being held in high-tech chains at one of Thanos’ secret Earth bases, this one beneath the deserts of the American southwest.
His recollections inform us he was created solely to destroy Thanos, but when they fought on a far-distant planet the Mad Titan outmaneuvered him and defeated him. Thanos then imprisoned him on Earth at this subterranean base where not even the Eternals’ ruler Mentor could find him telepathically.
With Thanos currently being absent from the base, Drax uses his own telepathic abilities to reach out to Tony Stark, whose existence and secret identity as Iron Man became known to the Eternals of Titan thanks to Moon Dragon’s activities.
The Destroyer’s telepathic contact with Tony causes him to stumble verbally as he addresses the Board. Tony calls the meeting to an end over a “migraine” he claims, and then dons his Iron Man armor to try to free Drax and face the dangers he telepathically warned him about.
Too late, the Destroyer realizes Thanos dispatched the Blood Brothers (first appearance) to attack whichever Earth super-being that Drax reached out to. They arrive on Long Island and assault Stark International, leading them into a battle with Iron Man.
NOTE: The Blood Brothers are members of the alien Roclite race. Their home planet is so much larger than Earth that all of them have nearly Hulk-level strength when they are here. They can also feed vampirically on the blood of other species around the universe.
The two Roclite brothers defeat Iron Man and fly off with him in their space ship to the subterranean southwestern base where the Destroyer is being held prisoner. They let Thanos know they have the Earth being that Drax contacted and he returns to the base, beating the Blood Brothers back there.
Thanos visits the chained Destroyer and taunts him about how his hoped-for rescuer has been taken and is being brought there to share his imprisonment.
We readers are shown all of the information that Drax communicated to Tony Stark telepathically: He learned of the Eternals and their hidden world under Titan’s surface. He learned of Mentor their ruler and of Mentor’s sons – Eros (Starfox, soon to be played by Harry Stiles in movies) and Thanos.
Thanos was a mutant Eternal, born deformed and not a beautiful humanoid like the other Eternals.
NOTE: In this first appearance of the Eternals of Titan they were all drawn with purple skin like Thanos. After this Marvel changed it so that they had skin colors like Earthlings with only Thanos being purple. In this debut of Thanos, he was not yet established as a worshipper of Death herself, that came in the near future.
Back to what Iron Man was “educated” about, Thanos created weapons to try to take over Titan and overthrow his father Mentor. Making weapons AND plotting against Mentor were crimes on Titan, so Thanos was exiled into deep space.
During the years he was in exile, Thanos assembled an interstellar army of the most depraved killers he could find and unleashed destruction and bloodshed on countless planets. Years ago he returned to our solar system and began warring on Titan while also sending scout ships and agents to Earth.
Back to the ongoing developments in our story, on Titan, Mentor has become aware of Iron Man having been contacted by Drax thanks to Titan’s incredible computer system I.S.A.A.C. (Integral Synaptic Anti-Anionic Computer).
Using I.S.A.A.C., Mentor restores consciousness to Iron Man before the Blood Brothers can put chains on him. Iron Man battles the Blood Brothers again, fleeing at the first opportunity to try freeing the Destroyer.
Before Tony can free Drax, Thanos himself intervenes, crushing one of Iron Man’s armored gloves and helping the Blood Brothers chain him up. Meanwhile, back on Titan, Mentor now has I.S.A.A.C. broadcast a beam to Iron Man’s armor, briefly controlling it like Moon Dragon did and causing its chest uni-beam to blast the tech chaining the Destroyer, letting him break free.
Drax frees Iron Man and they do battle with the attacking Blood Brothers. Eventually, they defeat the pair and then face Thanos. After the fight with him goes on for awhile, our heroes learn that the real Thanos escaped while they were taking on the Blood Brothers – this is just a robot.
The Destroyer and Iron Man escape the subterranean base moments before it explodes, presumably killing the Blood Brothers. Drax and Iron Man visit briefly, then part company.
The Destroyer flies back to Titan to rejoin the ongoing war with Thanos, while Iron Man reflects he needs to rest for a time, then will head for New York.
NOTE: Naturally the Blood Brothers weren’t really dead and in the future would return to fight Iron Man and the Thing.
IRON MAN Vol 1 #56 (March 1973)
Title: Rasputin’s Revenge
Villains: Rasputin and Fangor
Synopsis: The next day, Iron Man reaches New York City, where he reports to Avengers Mansion to let them know all about the Thanos War going on elsewhere in our solar system. The other Avengers are away on other business, so Tony enters all he knows about Thanos, the Eternals, etc into the team’s computers.
After that, our hero uses the mansion’s labs to repair his armored glove that was crushed by Thanos last time around. Next, Iron Man switches to Tony Stark and takes a walk around Manhattan, taking his briefcase (with his armor inside) with him.
NOTE: This is still the decades-long period of time when Tony Stark covered up his identity as Iron Man by pretending publicly that the armored superhero was really his high-tech bodyguard. That explanation allayed suspicion about why Iron Man so often showed up wherever Tony Stark was at the time.
In Central Park, a sculptor is unveiling his latest work, a massive, monstrous statue that he calls Fangor. Watching the unveiling is a brand new supervillain calling himself Rasputin. In a flashback, Rasputin recalls how he was driven from his teaching positions in the past for his occult studies.
He worships an ancient deity called Tavi and has, after all these years, come up with a mystical “Tavistick” that can animate inorganic matter. He uses the Tavistick to bring the statue of Fangor to life and makes it attack the people of New York City.
Tony slips away and dons his armor. As Iron Man he does battle with the Kaiju-sized Fangor in a destructive brawl all over Central Park. Ultimately our hero destroys Fangor by using his weapon-of-last-resort – the freon mini-bomb.
With the danger over, Iron Man returns to Avengers Mansion for the night, while the police nab Rasputin, whose Tavistick was broken during Fangor’s rampage.
I’LL POST THE NEXT INSTALLMENT SOON. KEEP CHECKING BACK.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO MY REVIEW OF SPIDER-MAN 1970s CLASSICS CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ MANTIS/ KANG/ CELESTIAL MADONNA STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR A LOOK AT “IRON MAN & SUB-MARINER” # 1 and ONLY, CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS IN THE AVENGERS/ KREE-SKRULL WAR STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR THE FIRST SEVERAL IRON FIST STORIES CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO THE 1970s ADAM WARLOCK/ GAMORA/ THANOS/ MAGUS STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR THE EARLY GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY STORIES CLICK HERE.
FOR CHAPTER LINKS TO THE 1970s BLACK PANTHER VS KILLMONGER STORY CLICK HERE.
FOR DC FANS, CHAPTER LINKS TO MY REVIEWS OF WORLD WAR TWO ERA JUSTICE SOCIETY STORIES. CLICK HERE.