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

im 68IRON MAN Vol 1 #68 (June 1974)

Title: Night of the Rising Sun

Villains: The Mandarin, Sunfire and Unicorn

Synopsis: We pick up months after our previous installment. Tony Stark has been spending most of his time in the Far East managing the reorganization of the Stark Regional offices there now that his company no longer handles weapons manufacturing. All of that is just the excuse to justify frequently loaning out his “bodyguard” Iron Man to Roxie Gilbert’s combined humanitarian mission and hunt for Eddie March’s M.I.A. brother Marty.

mandarin pictureAs this issue opens, Iron Man is using his repulsor rays to blast a path through the jungle for Roxie, U.N. escorts and North Vietnamese escorts plus the joint armed forces and aid workers. The communist army officer is especially hostile, making it clear he’s not fond of having Americans like Roxie Gilbert and Iron Man on hand. He also vows to retake Saigon some day.

NOTE: This story is set after the last American troops withdrew but before Saigon had fallen and been renamed Ho Chi Minh City. Marvel’s editors must have been scrambling to keep their comic book stories in synch with real-world events. Continue reading

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

im 65IRON MAN Vol 1 #65 (December 1973)

Title: The Cutting Edge of Death

Villain: Doctor Spectrum 

Synopsis: This issue picks up right where the last one left off: Near the wreckage of Roxie Gilbert’s health food store, caused by the destructive battle between Iron Man and Dr. Spectrum. The huge, energy-charged scimitar that the villain created via his power ring Power Prism is trying to slice through our hero’s armor to kill him.

Meanwhile, the exhausted Iron Man is barely able to use his repulsor rays to hold off the enormous energy-sword. Dr. Spectrum gets distracted by another argument with the alien intelligence inside his Power Prism AND by a blow to the face by Roxie Gilbert, who is briefly abandoning her pacifist principles to save Iron Man, who has saved HER multiple times in the recent past.

Dr. Spectrum easily smacks aside Roxie, who runs to a fellow bystander, the former boxer Eddie March. Roxie tells him Iron Man needs more help than normal human beings can provide and wants to call in the Avengers. Instead, Eddie says he has a quicker idea but we are not yet shown what that idea IS. Continue reading

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With the movie Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness hitting theaters I figured it was time for a look at the early stories of that Master of the Mystic Arts.

dr str treasurySTRANGE TALES Vol 1 #110 (July 1963)

Title: Doctor Strange, Master of Black Magic

Villain: Nightmare

Note: Dr. Strange was a backup feature to the Human Torch in his earliest appearances. He would eventually split Strange Tales equally with the Torch. Strange wouldn’t even be mentioned on the cover for a few issues at first.   

Synopsis: A man suffering from intense nightmares hires the famed occultist Dr. Strange to help him. Strange mystically enters the man’s dreams where he sees that the man is being tormented by the dark entity called Nightmare. After an intense battle, our hero drives off Nightmare and saves his client’s life. Continue reading


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

im 62IRON MAN Vol 1 #62 (September 1973)

Title: Whiplash Returns

Villain: Whiplash

Synopsis: We open a few weeks after the end of our previous installment. Tony Stark and Pepper Potts-Hogan have been at the Cincinnati Regional Headquarters of Stark International as part of Tony’s ongoing reorganization of Stark Industries’ projects and mission statement now that he has refused to do any more munition work. 

Pepper, still working as Stark’s Executive Assistant, is trying to cope with her husband Harold “Happy” Hogan’s decision that he is through with their marriage since she refuses to leave her career and become a housewife.

Elsewhere in Cincinnati we see Iron Man’s old foe Whiplash, returning after his first clash with Iron Man back in Tales of Suspense #97-99 (January 1968-March 1968). Whiplash is in his secret laboratory in costume, using his high-tech metal whip which can even pierce Iron Man’s armor.

rdj as tony againWhiplash is practicing by whipping to pieces steel statues of Iron Man while indulging in a Villain Rant about how he and our armored superhero got separated by chance after their previous battle on the cruise-ship sized seaborne HQ of the Maggia. (Marvel Comics’ fictional version of the Mafia.)

The villain also reflects on the improvements he has since made to his costume’s tech, making it capable of absorbing the energy from Iron Man’s repulsor rays and unleash it back on our hero with the next lash of his whip. Continue reading


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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. Continue reading


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

im 57IRON MAN Vol 1 #57 (April 1973)

Title: The Mandarin Strikes Back

Villain: The Mandarin

NOTE: This is the REAL Mandarin, Iron Man’s archenemy since 1964, NOT the comic-relief figure used in movies like Iron Man 3 and in the recent Shang-Chi movie. The Mandarin is sort of a hybrid of Doctor Doom, Fu Manchu and Chiang Kai-shek. As his nom de guerre would suggest, he wanted to return China to its glory days under the old imperial dynasties. He opposed the Communist Chinese and had carved out a little territory of his own on the mainland, as opposed to the island of Formosa used by the Taiwan government.

This villain’s powers came from his ten power rings which he took from a crashed Makluan spaceship. Each ring has specific powers. He uses other elements of reverse-engineered Makluan technology in his schemes for world conquest.

mandarin picSynopsis: We pick up an unknown number of days or weeks after our previous installment. Tony Stark returns to Stark International’s Long Island headquarters only to learn that while he and the other Avengers were occupied with taking on Magneto (Avengers 110 & 111) the workers at Stark International re-organized under a whole new union. (It’s a comic book. Ignore the real-world problems with that happening so quickly and just go with it.)

That new union, headed by the mysterious and reclusive Gene Khan (really the Mandarin himself) has convinced the workers to go on strike until Tony Stark agrees to return his company to handling national defense contracts. Gene Khan has convinced labor that the real reason that Tony ended Stark’s Defense Department contracts was so he could share technology with Soviet Russia and Communist China. Continue reading


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Somewhat belatedly, here are links to each installment of Balladeer’s Blog’s look at 1970s classics for Captain America and the Falcon.

ca f 156ONE: This four-part story dealt with Cap and Falc taking on the revived 1950s substitutes for Cap and Bucky. The worldviews of two Captain Americas from different decades came into conflict. Click HERE.

TWO: A three-part tale pitting our heroes against the Viper and the supervillain team called Crime Wave. Plus Captain America gains Spider-Man level strength. (That higher strength level lasted from 1973-1978.) Click HERE.

THREE: These three issues saw Captain America and the Falcon go up against the new supervillain Solarr as well as Captain America’s old foe Doctor Faustus. All this and the return of Peggy Carter! Click HERE. Continue reading

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

im 54IRON 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.)

Moon DragonElsewhere, 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. Continue reading


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robert downey jr iron manWeekends are the time for Balladeer’s Blog’s escapist forays into superheroes, who seem to be everywhere these days. This time around it will be a multi-week look at Iron Man and one of his most memorable story runs from the 1970s.

im 52IRON MAN Vol 1 #52 (November 1972)

Title: Raga, Son of Fire

Villains: The Black Lama and Raga, Son of Fire

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. 

Synopsis: This issue starts off with Tony Stark in his Iron Man armor using his high-tech training room at Stark Industries Headquarters on Long Island. Our hero uses this hidden area as a testing ground for every upgrade he adds to his armor.

rdj as tony starkThis afternoon all of the destructive devices and traps are overcome by Iron Man’s latest improvements. The test session over with, Tony Stark catches a flight to California. With his engagement to long-time girlfriend Marianne Rodgers called off recently our hero is off on a vacation.

He starts partying with other members of the Jet Set in the on-board lounge during his flight westward. With Tony once again available – and with his secret heart transplant working perfectly – he returns to his old playboy ways. The women on board vie with each other for Stark’s attention, smitten with his looks, brains and immense wealth. Continue reading


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power man pictureSuperheroes continue to dominate pop culture right now, and as I’ve often said, I think hero tales work best when set in their original time period.

Here is Balladeer’s Blog’s look at the earliest stories about Luke Cage, who started out as Hero for Hire before Marvel Comics changed his name to Power Man.

hero for hire 1HERO FOR HIRE Vol 1 #1 (June 1972)

Title: Out of Hell – A Hero

Villains: Diamondback, Shades and Comanche

Synopsis: Carl Lucas, a black man from New York, was framed for drug possession by his former friend Willis Stryker. While serving his sentence at horrific Seagate Prison in Georgia, Carl volunteered to be the subject of medical experimentation intended to create super-powered warriors for the government.

Albert Rackham, a racist prison guard with a grudge against Lucas had tampered with the experimental device hoping to kill him. Instead, Carl gained super-strength and bullet-proof skin.

cage picUsing those powers, Lucas escaped Seagate Prison but misled the authorities into thinking he died in the ocean while trying to get away. With Carl Lucas pronounced dead, our main character settled in New York City under the name Luke Cage and became a literal Hero for Hire, using his superpowers to earn a living.

After making a positive name for himself in a few fairly routine cases, Luke attracts the attention of the crime boss called Diamondback … who is really Willis Stryker, the friend who framed Carl Lucas years earlier. Continue reading


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