These days, Marvel Comics reboots their titles over and over thanks to their non stop mega events. But when I was a kid, Marvel used to publish fun stories featuring their best characters. And better yet, you didn’t need to read 68 comics to get a complete story.
Want a great example of a single issue story? Check out Iron Man #150 from September 1981. This anniversary issue was written by the ream Bob Layton and David Michelinie, and drawn by John Romita, Jr. and Bob Layton. The run by these three men is arguably the best run Iron Man has ever seen.
In Iron Man #150m a scuffle between Doctor Doom and Iron Man ends up with the two stumbling onto Doctor Doom’s time platform, were they are flung headlong through the timestream. The two expected to land outside of Doom’s castle, but both stop fighting when they see Camelot before them.
King Arthur’s Knights order the capture of the strangers, and take them into custody, bringing them before the king. At court, Iron Man uses his armor’s abilities to lift Arthur’s throne into the air via magnetic force, proving himself to have powers beyond their understanding. Doctor Doom however, shows off the royal seal of Latveria, demanding that King Arthur treat him as a fellow sovereign.
Arthur tells them that both men are his guests while he decides what to do with them. In the meantime, anything they wish for will be provided to them, as long as they don’t try to leave the castle without permission. During all of this Tony Stark tries to come up with a solution to get him and Doom home, but in typical stark fashion, he takes some time to entertain a lady.
As for Victor Von Doom, he too has a lady visitor come to his quarters that night. But unlike Stark, Doom hypnotized the girl into giving him the location of Morgana Le Fey.
The next morning, Arthur informs Iron Man that doom fled in the middle of the night, and left the young woman catatonic state. If that wasn’t bad enough, soon Iron Man and King Arthur learn that Morgana has agreed to help Doom if he helps her to kill her brother.
I really loved this comic from the moment I bought it at a yard sale in 1990. I took my Iron Man #150 to school with me and read it over and over during lunch. Some of the other kids laughed at me for reading comics, but I didn’t give a damn. It wasn’tong before my copy started falling apart on me. But even then, I would read the comic.
I would also try to draw Iron Man the way John Romita Jr. did, but I was never able to. He is the only artist that I can remember who was able to show emotion with the Iron Man armor. I know it sounds strange, but Romita had a way of drawing Iron Man’s face plate in a way that showed his mood.
As for the story by Bob Layton and David Michelinie. I loved how the writers showed two equally powerful characters who are enemies, but at the same time have great respect for each other’s abilities. There’s a great moment in the issue where Iron Man and Doctor Doom realize that they can only trust each other, if each of them powers down the suit. I’ts a simple sequence, but brilliantly executed.
In 48 pages we got a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an end. No doubt the 1980’s were a different era in comic books, because if this story were told today it would take at least six issues. As far as I’m concerned, Iron Man #150 is what comic books should be like again. I’m sick of “writing for the trade” arcs.
So, even if you don’t like Iron Man, this is one fun comic, and worth checking out. Plus, the story does feature King Arthur’s knights fighting a legion of zombies, so find this comic and enjoy!