Iron Man #301-306 (1994): “Crash and Burn”

Marvel’s sales are sagging. Maybe new armor will help?

Deathlok learns that Stark International has files about the original Deathlok project, and as part of his effort to erase the project from his own past (because Deathlok is from the future, remember?), he breaks into Stark’s headquarters to destroy them.

Meanwhile, Stark’s corporation is corrupt.  Again.  He really can’t manage a business.  This time, it’s because he bought up his competitors’ companies, Stane and Hammer, and they were corrupt.  So, he hires Bethany Cabe to help investigate.

This all leads to an Iron Man/Deathlok confrontation.

They talk to each other while trading blows.  I’m always amazed at how heroes can do extensive cardio—and take punches—while carrying out coherent, wordy conversations.  Anyway, their parlay reveals Stark was trying to stop, not start, the Deathlok Project, so now they’re allies.

And none of that matters.   I mean, it’s fun.  I like Deathlok.  But this doesn’t go anywhere, and at the end of the issue…

…It’s time for another big fight.

Venom, remember, is hero(ish) now, and he’s just gonna eat Tony Stark because Stark is corrupt.  But it turns out, that’s not Stark, it’s a life-model decoy.

Iron Man and Venom then fight, and Iron Man wins. Of course.  And then Venom realizes Tony’s not corrupt and slinks away.

So, a second fight against a second hero-who-kills, and we’re still where we were, storywise, on page one of the first issue of this event: Stark’s company has corruption.

Although I will say that having the device of vigilante heroes coming after him when his corruption is exposed is interesting.  It shows, first of all, why vigilante heroes are a problem—they jump to conclusions, with fatal solutions, and don’t have all the facts.  This is in keeping with Stark’s decision in Civil War to back the Registration Act.

And speaking of Civil War…

Captain America comes to talk to Tony, and they have a talk that’s basically just like the conflict they’ll have during Civil War.  The conversation unfolds as a flashback.

In the present, the New Warriors are looking into Stark International’s African dam project.  The corruption also takes Iron Man there.  Another fight.

And then another…

…and another…

…The Hulk one is kind of important, because it’s the first appearance of the Hulkbuster Armor.

I like that there are a ton of heroes here, all of whom do a lot of punching, and only Captain America comes correct like a man and has a conversation, seeking understanding over victory.

As for the corruption storyline, at the end of this arc, Tony decides to shut his company down because he can’t keep up with all the bad things that get done in his name.

This is a good Iron Man story—it’s very good when you compare it to the stories of recent past.

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