IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 10 – MODOK, THE HULK AND THE BLACK LAMA

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

im 75IRON MAN Vol 1 #75 (June 1975)

Title: Slave to the Power Imperious

Villains: Modok, the Mad Thinker, the Yellow Claw and the Black Lama

Synopsis: This issue picks up right where the previous one left off. Modok, with his squat body and enlarged head resting atop the kaiju-sized mechanical body that he wore to fight the Hulk months earlier, has burst into the Mad Thinker’s subterranean headquarters in the forests of Michigan.

mad thinkerPer the Black Lama’s ongoing War of the Supervillains, Modok plans to kill his first opponent the Mad Thinker (at right) then take on the war’s frontrunner – the Yellow Claw. Modok tosses aside the defeated and unconscious Iron Man, whom the Mad Thinker had used as a pawn against Modok and A.I.M. last time around.

Before Modok can finish off the Thinker, the latter unleashes one of his kaiju-sized androids, the green, faceless kind that are powerful enough to battle the Fantastic Four (the Mad Thinker’s usual foes). While the fight between that Android Warrior and Modok goes on, Iron Man regains consciousness, then realizes that the damage to the Mad Thinker’s laboratory has destroyed the equipment with which the villain was controlling his armor.

Before our hero can take action against either of the villains, he is linked up with the Black Lama’s mind accidentally by Marianne Rodgers. Marianne is Tony’s ex-fiancee whose psychic powers seemed to go out of control long ago, plaguing her with monstrous visions and causing her to be put away in a Connecticut insane asylum. (see previous installments)

marianne rodgers visionsMarianne was not insane nor did she lose control of her powers as everyone thought long months ago. Instead, for reasons that will be revealed next time around, Rodgers became mind-linked with the Black Lama when he first arrived on Earth from an unknown place. BOTH the Black Lama and Marianne Rodgers began suffering from the same monstrous visions at the same time.

The Black Lama, however, was too powerful and too secluded in his Himalayan castle for anyone to even try to commit HIM to an insane asylum like happened to Marianne Rodgers. Now, while trying to communicate psychically with Tony Stark, she accidentally entangled him temporarily in the same web of shared monstrous, nightmarish visions. Our hero lapses back into unconsciousness.

Meanwhile, Modok and the Android Warrior have been continuing their destructive battle. At length, Modok wins and leaves the android in a defeated heap. Next, he clutches the Mad Thinker in one of his mechanical body’s huge hands and crushes him to death. Modok then uses his powers to reanimate the fallen Iron Man, still unconscious. 

gary gilbert firebrandElsewhere in Michigan, Iron Man’s foe Firebrand, who escaped prison last time around, sits contemplating a way of at last killing Tony Stark and Iron Man. (Back then Tony had convinced the world that Iron Man was just his high-tech bodyguard.)

His contemplations are so hate-fueled that Marianne Rodgers, psychically attracted to the villain’s thoughts about Tony and Iron Man, draws HIM too into the link of psychic feedback with the Black Lama, causing Firebrand to temporarily be overwhelmed by monstrous, horrific visions. 

The Black Lama, in his Himalayan lair, feels another mind in the web, and when this round of visions passes, he furiously notes how the visions come more and more frequently now. He can’t afford to wait out a long War of the Supervillains, all vying for possession of his potent Golden Globe of Power. Instead, he must find a victor as soon as possible.

To that end, he teleports to the side of the triumphant Modok in the Mad Thinker’s Michigan lab. He converses with Modok, telling him he must immediately face the Yellow Claw (later re-named the Golden Claw). Since he and the Yellow Claw have each killed their assigned opponents in the War of the Supervillains, the winner of THIS clash will be awarded the Golden Globe of Power.

When the two have reached an understanding, the Black Lama teleports both of them – plus the controlled Iron Man – to the Yellow Claw’s fortress in China. (NOT the castle he stole from the Mandarin, but the Claw’s own fortress that he’s had since the 1950s when Marvel Comics was called Atlas Comics.)

black lamaThe Black Lama informs the Yellow Claw that Modok, controlling Iron Man’s armor, has arrived outside his fortress and that this battle will decide the outcome of his shortened War of the Supervillains. Modok sends the controlled Iron Man to the attack.

Our hero breaks into the Claw’s castle and, since all the Yellow Claw’s troops except Loc Do died fighting the Mandarin and Ultimo a few installments back, the Claw unleashes his new mobi-bot against Iron Man.

When Iron Man has defeated that construct the Yellow Claw unleashes one of his biological creations on him, this one a combination blob/ octopus creature of enormous size. Iron Man destroys THAT creation, too, and as he closes in on the Yellow Claw, Modok bursts in through a wall to join in the attack.

Yellow ClawThey are still fighting on the Yellow Claw’s home turf, however, and the Claw turns the tables, killing Modok and blasting Iron Man, revealing him to be an android substituted by the Mad Thinker, who is actually still alive.

From his Michigan lair, the Mad Thinker has been watching all this on a viewscreen and now does a Villain Rant explaining what’s going on. He reveals that while Modok was fighting his Android Warrior earlier, the Thinker collected Iron Man’s unconscious body and retreated to another room, leaving behind an android duplicate of both himself AND Iron Man.

Modok killed the android duplicate of the Mad Thinker and reanimated the Iron Man robot, not the real Iron Man. We see that the real Iron Man is in high-tech chains nearby the Thinker. That villain tells Iron Man that with Modok dead he must now prepare to face the Yellow Claw.

marianne rodgers picWhile the Mad Thinker is distracted with his technical preparations, Marianne Rodgers THIS TIME succeeds in making contact with Tony Stark, whom she knew to be Iron Man back when they were in a romantic relationship.

The beautiful blonde woman quells Tony’s surprise at the telepathic contact by telling him they can’t let their feelings or their past history break their concentration right now. 

Marianne psychically helps Iron Man break free of the futuristic chains holding him to the wall and, the psychic link with Marianne broken, he angrily walks in on the surprised Mad Thinker in the next room, vowing to avenge himself on both him AND the Black Lama. That’s the cliffhanger ending for this issue.

im 76IRON MAN Vol 1 #76 (July 1975)

Title: There Lives a Green Goliath

Villains: The Mandarin and the Hulk

NOTE: This is a fill-in issue reprinting Iron Man #9 (January 1969). In the comic book business, various reasons can prevent the artwork and/or the writing for the latest issue from being completed on time. In such cases either a reprint or an unrelated fill-in issue written for just such an emergency is published that month.   

The reprinted story from our hero’s issue #9 years earlier featured the Mandarin operating in secret out of New York.

im 10He had created a Hulk robot and sent it to kill Iron Man, then capture Tony Stark and Tony’s then-love interest Janice Cord. (Whose later death both Tony and the Crimson Dynamo blamed each other for.)

The Hulk robot went into action, and in a lengthy, destructive fight around Long Island, was destroyed by Iron Man, who then realized he had been fighting an android replica of the Hulk. Observing all this via viewscreens, the Mandarin realized that Tony Stark really IS Iron Man and, having noted any upgrades in his archenemy’s armor since their last battle, prepared to take on Iron Man again in the following issue, Iron Man #10. 

im 77IRON MAN Vol 1 #77 (August 1975)

Title: I Cry: Revenge

Villains: The Mad Thinker, the Black Lama, the Yellow Claw and Firebrand

Synopsis: This issue picks up right where issue #75 left off – with Iron Man, having freed himself thanks to psychic help from Marianne Rodgers, facing the Mad Thinker. The villain unleashes his high-tech weaponry on our hero, including his now-repaired Android Warrior that was defeated by Modok in issue #75.

Iron Man overcomes everything the Thinker throws at him, then knocks out the man himself. While Tony then proceeds to smash up the villain’s machinery – simultaneously admiring the genius of the Mad Thinker – we cut back to China.

In the Yellow Claw’s fortress, the Black Lama explains to the Claw how the Mad Thinker used two android duplicates of himself and Iron Man to trick him. With Modok dead, the Lama tells the Yellow Claw that he has only to kill the Mad Thinker and he will win the war and the Golden Globe of Power.

The Black Lama is still secretly desperate to free himself of the monstrous, terrifying visions but cannot tell this to the Yellow Claw. Instead, he imperiously demands the Claw MUST fight the Mad Thinker NOW. He cannot have the requested time to create new biological constructs.

yellow claw picThe Yellow Claw, not wanting to forfeit the Globe, agrees. He grabs a high-tech gun and dons his emergency weaponry – body armor which will put him on Iron Man’s level strength-wise.

Meanwhile, back in Michigan, Firebrand has decided that his best bet in quickly killing Iron Man might come by way of one of the Mad Thinker’s creations, since those creations are powerful enough to take on the Fantastic Four. He flies to where he and the Thinker parted company after escaping from prison thanks to the Black Lama and an unwilling Marianne Rodgers.

Searching the area, he sees the hole in the ground made by Modok when he attacked the Mad Thinker’s underground laboratory earlier that night and follows it.

As Iron Man finishes trashing the Mad Thinker’s laboratory, the Black Lama and Yellow Claw arrive in that lab via the former’s teleportation powers. Seeing that Iron Man has defeated the Thinker, the increasingly desperate Black Lama tells the Yellow Claw that he must now kill Iron Man to win the Golden Globe of Power.

The Yellow Claw expresses amusement and irritation at the way the Lama has been changing the rules of his war on the fly, but attacks Iron Man anyway. In a lengthy battle, Tony outfights the Claw, who retreats, using his body-armor’s jets to fly away.

firebrand picture in armorFirebrand has been watching the conflict from the hole that Modok made and now attacks Iron Man himself. As the Black Lama looks on, the two clash, with Firebrand defeating the exhausted Iron Man. The Black Lama, grasping at straws now, offers the Golden Globe of Power to Firebrand and explains the War of the Supervillains that he had unleashed for its possession.

Firebrand realizes that with the Globe he can finally launch his hoped-for “Revolution” only now he can take control of the entire world, not just America. He willingly accepts the Globe, as the Black Lama sinisterly reflects to himself how only a WILLING recipient will activate the Globe’s trap.

The deceived Firebrand figures that he can also use the Globe’s teleportation powers to get away from the ruins of the Mad Thinker’s subterranean HQ since authorities are closing in on the place, at last attracted by all the damage in the area.

Iron Man regains consciousness just as the Black Lama is handing Firebrand the Golden Globe of Power. As Firebrand relishes the prize in his hands, the Globe activates and the Lama gloats about how he has tricked the younger villain. The Globe is teleporting the two of them to the Black Lama’s homeworld for an unknown purpose.

Iron Man flies into the closing teleportational hole, intent on following and defeating the Black Lama’s master plan, whatever it may be.

im 78IRON MAN Vol 1 #78 (September 1975)

Title: Long Time Gone

Villains: The Viet Cong during the Vietnam War

NOTE: Once AGAIN the expected next issue was not ready in time, so a previously prepared flashback story was run instead.

Synopsis: The narration apologizes for the delay in continuing the Black Lama storyline, then features Iron Man in a tale set years earlier in the Vietnam War as our hero fights alongside the army against the Viet Cong.

Tony, in his older armor, observed some of the incredible damage inflicted on the country and its people by the weaponry that Stark’s company sold to the military. It’s a “benefit of hindsight” tale that pretends that Tony Stark began soul-searching about his company’s munitions work years earlier, instead of when Roxie Gilbert’s passionate humanitarian arguments started to win him over in more recent times.

The tale ends by promising the continuation of the Black Lama story next time. 

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 MY LOOK AT THE FIRST TWENTY DOCTOR STRANGE STORIES IN THE 1960s 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.

54 Comments

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54 responses to “IRON MAN: 1970s CLASSICS 10 – MODOK, THE HULK AND THE BLACK LAMA

  1. WOW!!! I had no idea this is sooo involved!!! This gifted me much joy!!! Thank You, Balladeer!!! You have, once again, broadened my world! Cheers and Rock on!!! 😃💕😊

  2. Amazing post i really love this.

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