IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 4 – FIREBRAND, THE MASKED MARAUDER AND STEEL

For Part One of these Iron Man 1970s classics click HERE.

im 59IRON MAN Vol 1 #59 (June 1973)

Title: A Madness in Motown

Villain: Firebrand

Synopsis: This issue opens up with Tony Stark in his office at Stark International’s Long Island headquarters. He’s on a phone call from the psychiatrist treating Marianne Rodgers at Milford Sanitarium in Connecticut.

NOTE: Marianne is Tony’s ex-fiance whose psychic powers have recently begun driving her crazy with grotesque images.

The doctor informs Stark about how serious Marianne’s condition is, and that she has even taken to ranting about him, her former fiance. After getting off the phone, Tony ponders the situation and blames himself for Marianne’s condition. He even takes to trashing his office.

Just outside his office door, his personal assistant Pepper Potts-Hogan is preparing for her and Tony’s business trip to Detroit and is saying goodbye to her husband, Tony Stark’s former chauffer Harold “Happy” Hogan. Pepper warns Happy not to go into Tony’s office, no matter how much noise Tony makes. He gets ugly with people who disturb his privacy in his office.

Next, Pepper and Happy begin arguing about how Pepper went back to work for Tony in recent weeks. Happy wants her to stop working and be a stay at home wife. Pepper insists on resuming her career and Happy leaves in a huff.

We cut to Detroit, Michigan where Tony and Pepper are headed. Roxie Gilbert, the pacifist owner of a health food store, is still insisting on selling the many shares of stock in Stark International that she inherited from her late father. Roxie wants to tell Tony off about the past weapons work that his company did, but Tony just thinks they’re meeting to discuss the future of the several percent of shares she owns.

firebrand picture in armorRoxie’s brother Gary Gilbert has learned about Roxie’s upcoming visit from Tony Stark. Gary has revealed to Roxie that he is really the armored supervillain called Firebrand, a recurring foe of Iron Man.

NOTE: Firebrand is a very dated villain now, right down to the silly “power to the people” fist on his armor’s chest. He created his own armor to launch “the revolution” that his generation was often talking about. The armor gives him super-strength to match Iron Man’s, lets him fly and shoot intense heat rays from the outlets on the back of his gloves. Gary hates Roxie for being a pacifist and refusing to use the violence that he uses as Firebrand.

Back to the story, Gary has stolen money and tech to repair his armor over the past few months and, as Firebrand, he attacks the cab that picks up Tony and Pepper at the airport. He takes Tony, Pepper and the cab driver captive and takes them to Roxie’s apartment, where he has been staying.

Roxie is furious but Gary sneers at her “weakness” for not wanting to use violence to achieve “the revolution.” Firebrand threatens to kill Pepper and the cab driver if Tony – whom he’s releasing – calls anyone EXCEPT Iron Man.

NOTE: This was during the years when Tony Stark passed off Iron Man to the world at large as his high-tech bodyguard, to help explain why Iron Man so often showed up wherever Tony was.   

Firebrand lets Tony leave the apartment to tell Iron Man to meet the villain that night at the cemetery where his and Roxie’s father is buried. (Their father died in an explosion from a bomb he himself planted at Stark International, a business rival.)

At any rate, once Tony is far enough away he dons his armor and, as Iron Man, flies to the cemetery at the scheduled time to turn himself over to Firebrand in exchange for Pepper and the cab driver’s lives. Firebrand has blasted a grave for Iron Man, complete with tombstone and, by threatening to kill the bound Pepper and cabbie, gets our hero to lie down in the grave and let himself be covered with tons of rubble.

gary gilbert firebrandUnknown to Firebrand, who waits for Iron Man’s air supply to inevitably run out, our hero uses his repulsor rays to burrow around underground so that he emerges from the ground behind the villain. The pair fly around high above the graveyard, blasting at each other with their respective armor’s weaponry and periodically punching it out on the ground.

Roxie Gilbert shows up at the graveyard, hoping to talk her brother out of his plans. She fails to get through to him and ultimately throws herself partially in the way of a fire-blast that her brother shoots at Pepper, saving Pepper’s life.

Next, Iron Man goes on to defeat Firebrand and disable his armor before turning him over to the Detroit police that Roxie had called, as they arrive on the scene. Iron Man then flies the unconscious and dying Roxie to the nearest hospital for our cliffhanger ending.

im 60IRON MAN Vol 1 #60 (July 1973)

Title: Cry Marauder

Villains: The Masked Marauder and Steel

Synopsis: At the hospital in Detroit hours go by, but well into the next morning the waiting Iron Man gets word that Roxie has pulled through but will be kept for a day or two. Our armored hero visits her but she chews him out for using violence against her brother Firebrand, saying force will never change Gary’s mind.

The exasperated Iron Man leaves, then comes back later that day as Tony Stark, with flowers, but Roxie refuses to even see Tony, since she is still disgusted with his old weapons manufacturer days. (I guess she doesn’t feel up to telling him off to his face, which is what she wanted to do last issue.)

Meanwhile, Happy Hogan and Pepper have another brutal argument, this time over the phone when Happy learns that Tony and Pepper will be in Detroit for a week more. Angrily hanging up, he frets about the way he and Pepper seem to be going in separate directions regarding their respective futures. Back in Detroit, Pepper is staying up late mulling over the potential fate of their marriage, too.

Tony, needing cheering up, drops by to ask Pepper to keep him company while they eat at a fancy restaurant. Tony’s presence attracts the usual attention because of how well-known he is. Some of the women wonder who Pepper is, assuming she’s Tony’s latest fling.

While dinner proceeds, Tony inwardly condemns himself for letting Pepper get away years ago. Unknown to him, Pepper finds herself thinking she might be better off with Tony since he doesn’t mind her having a career.

masked marauder picElsewhere in Detroit, at the Stark Aeronautics Center, Tony’s new space shuttle is ready for a test flight, another reason behind Tony and Pepper’s business trip there. The purple-clad villain called the Masked Marauder leads a handful of henchmen, one of them in steel armor and calling himself Steel (his real surname is Steele, so that’s convenient).

NOTE: After he and his henchmen overcome all of the Aeronautic Center’s security and guards, the Masked Marauder does a Villain Rant about how he survived his showdown with Daredevil a few years earlier. (Daredevil #27 April 1967)

Daredevil knocked him into what the hero thought was a disintegration shield but in reality it was a teleportation field that merely transported the Masked Marauder to one of his alternate hideouts. Since then he’s been running low-profile crimes while improving his weaponry and his body armor to the point where he can go toe to toe with Iron Man if need be, since his latest goal is stealing the Stark space shuttle.

Thanks to the Masked Marauder’s genius, he and his men get the space shuttle running and fly off with it, attracting a lot of attention even that late at night. Stark’s recovering security men have Tony paged at the restaurant with Pepper to let him know about the theft that just occurred.

Tony is brought the phone and is updated. He tells Pepper he needs to get himself to safety and stay holed up while his bodyguard Iron Man deals with recovering the space shuttle. (Pepper does not yet know that Tony really IS Iron Man.)

rdj iron man armorDonning his armor, Iron Man flies off after the shuttle. The Masked Marauder realizes that the superhero is following him and his men so he lands the space shuttle on a highway to prevent it from being damaged in battle.

Iron Man attacks them on the ground and defeats the villain’s underlings, including Steel, despite the strength and weaponry of his armor. Our hero tears apart Steel’s armor, making it useless. Next he clashes with the Masked Marauder, whose new armor can withstand Iron Man’s punches and whose guns shoot rays that are even stronger than Tony’s repulsor rays.

At length, the Marauder fires his opti-blast from the eye-wear of his helmet/ mask, temporarily blinding and immobilizing Iron Man. The villain then blasts him unconscious with repeated blasts from both his high-tech handguns.

Next, he picks up the defeated Iron Man, slings him across one shoulder and grandstands for the crowd of bystanders who have gathered, telling them Iron Man is finished. So saying he carries him toward the space shuttle in preparation to fly off with our hero his captive.

NOTE: To give you a feel for what else was going on in the Marvel Universe at the time, July of 1973 was also the published date of the Spider-Man issue in which the Green Goblin dies in their battle after the death of Gwen Stacy the previous issue.

im 61IRON MAN Vol 1 #61 (August 1973)

Title: Death Knells Over Detroit

Villain: The Masked Marauder

Synopsis: Our villain and his henchmen arrive at the Masked Marauder’s secret headquarters where Iron Man is confined in a high-tech Capto-Lock invented by the Marauder. Iron Man has regained consciousness but is so far unable to break free as he and the MM exchange threats and insults.

Eventually he makes with another Villain Rant, this one informing Iron Man that the stolen space shuttle is being fitted with nuclear materials. If he doesn’t get paid a ransom of a billion dollars (equal to 6.5 billion dollars here in 2022) he will use the shuttle to wipe out Detroit and vicinity with an atomic explosion. He will then seek further ransom from Tony Stark to return Iron Man to him.

im 61 splash pageThe Masked Marauder leaves to hook up everything in the space shuttle. Time passes and Iron Man at last escapes from the Capto-Lock and mops the floor with the Masked Marauder’s men, including the now-armorless Steel.

The Masked Marauder, attracted by the noise, attacks our hero from behind, decking him and causing tons of debris to fall on top of him. With Iron Man seemingly pinned, the villain calls Pepper Potts-Hogan with the ransom demand that he has her relay to the mayor of Detroit and other politicians. 

By now it is late enough into the next day that Happy sees newspaper articles and photos of Tony and Pepper at the ritzy restaurant the previous night. Happy gets the wrong idea, and when he can’t get Pepper on the phone because she is busy dealing with the ransom arrangements, he decides he has had it. 

Back to the outskirts of Detroit, Iron Man frees himself from the wreckage and renews his attack on the Masked Marauder. After a lengthy fight, our hero uses his chest-plate’s uni-beam to defeat the villain and then dismantles the nukes that were put into the space shuttle.

The Marauder and his men go to prison, the shuttle is returned to the Stark Aerospace Center and the country is relieved to hear that the nuclear threat to Detroit and its neighbors is over.

The rest of Tony and Pepper’s week-long stay in Detroit goes peacefully enough, and the space shuttle test-flight goes well. As Pepper and Tony are getting ready to leave for a flight to the Stark facilities in Cincinatti, OH Pepper gets a telegram from Happy. 

To the shock of Tony and Pepper, Happy says he is leaving Pepper for good. 

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 TO MY REVIEW OF CAPTAIN AMERICA & THE FALCON 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.

4 Comments

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4 responses to “IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 4 – FIREBRAND, THE MASKED MARAUDER AND STEEL

  1. Pingback: IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 4 – FIREBRAND, THE MASKED MARAUDER AND STEEL — Balladeer’s Blog – Revolver Boots

  2. What a post! I loved the movies, but have heard they are… changing… Have you heard that?

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