IRON MAN #161 (1982): Denny O’Neil and Luke McDonnell

This is the first issue of the Denny O’Neil and Luke McDonnell run.  O’Neil and McDonnell were a very different creative team from their predecessors, but they built on the amazing work done by David Michelinie, Bob Layton, and John Romita, Jr.


It can be hard when a team takes over a celebrated run–and the Michelinie/Layton years are probably the best Iron Man years ever.  But rather than break entirely and reboot, the team took Tony Stark down and, within a few issues, gave us our first black Iron Man: James Rhodes.  The art was very different, too; rather than focus on gleam, shine, and clear lines, McDonnell’s Iron Man was darker, grittier, and less polished.

It starts with AIM holding Tony’s team hostage, and a special guest helping solve the problem…

Turns out, millionaire investor Steven Grant was present.


This issue features a team-up with Moon Knight–a pretty unlikely character for an Iron Man comic. 

I have to say that, with rare exceptions, pre-2010 MK rarely works well unless he’s written by Doug Moench.  And he and Iron Man never actually meet in this issue (at least not in costume).  MK doesn’t do a whole lot—he works on the surface while Iron Man is underwater fighting AIM—but McDonnell can draw the heck out of Moon Knight so it’s a perfectly fine issue.  Not much happens, nothing happens that matters, but it’s like a good, non-Spidey issue of Marvel Team-Up.

This is the series that established McDonnell’s reputation.  From here, he would go on to Suicide Squad.  But not until he’d given us some of the best Iron Man books ever.

1 thought on “IRON MAN #161 (1982): Denny O’Neil and Luke McDonnell”

  1. I’ll take Bob Layton’s “gleam, shine, and clear lines” over McDonnell’s ( or anybody else’s ) “darker, grittier, and less-polished” Iron Man any day of the week. The “gleam and shine” is a major factor of who Iron Man is. Let the Punisher and Batman have the “darker/grittier/less-polished” image. It works for them, but it is counterintuitive to who and what Iron Man is all about. Speaking of Batman, Moon Knight sucks, and always has. DC should have sued this guy out of existence for copyright infringement, and taken the equally-unnecessary and plagiarized Shroud ( from ‘Super-Villain Team-Up’ ) with him! I have spoken!


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