Iron Man #247
Writers: David Michelenie & Bob Layton
Artists: Bob Layton (Pencils) Tim Dzon (inks)
We open with Iron Man waiting for representatives from HYDRA and AIM, for a big conference about why HYDRA, AIM, and the Maggia are fighting some sort of wholesale 3-way war between the three organisations. The reps from HYDRA and AIM suggest that Iron Man use his relationship with the Maggia leader, Madame Masque, to allow them close enough to take her out, but Iron Man tells them to stick it up their ass and leaves. Then the HYDRA and AIM reps decide to do it anyway, so really, this was time well spent, huh?
Iron Man flies back to Stark Enterprises so we can touch on the subplot about him being trapped in a wheelchair after being shot by Kathy Dare. He meets with the assistant district attorney (they're working out the case against Kathy Dare) and turns down a date with her, feeling ever more closed off from people. Jim Rhodes frets over this and were this a TV show some ominous chord would play over the soundtrack right now.
But never mind that shit, here's Mongo. Oh, no, wait it's the hulk--the grey one--who's arrived in LA for a job. Meanwhile, in Hastily Tied Up Subplots Corner, Abe Zimmer gets a message on the computer, which has news about Stark's medical condition while Stark has words with an Agent Mallard of the FBI, who tells him to stay out of the way or he'll find himself in even more trouble than he avoided in the Armor Wars.
We soon learn that the Hulk has been hired by AIM and HYDRA to abduct Madame Masque and stick her in a brain-sucking device because why not, really? Iron Man flies off to interrupt the Maggia's operation as well, but the Hulk gets there first and spirits her away, hanging her over to AIM and HYDRA, getting paid and walking off.
Or well, he would be, except the Dreadnoughts attack the Hulk just when Iron Man shows up and all hell breaks loose. The Hulks clothes get incinerated (along with his money) and Hulk gets really pissed off and starts wrecking shit. Meanwhile, Iron Man rescues Madame Masque and is on the point of getting answers, however, another Dreadnought attacks and allows Masque to get away.
Iron Man finds out that agent Mallard and Madame Masque have been working together all along--the Maggia will keep the criminal element in line (as much as they're able to) and they won't have three super-criminal organisations to keep an eye on, just the one. Iron Man says "Thanks for blathering all that right when I can record it, jackass," the Hulk steals a coat, and we close with Stark doing the unthinkable--stepping down as head of Stark Enterprises. Duhn Duhn DUNNNNNNN.
Yes, well this is a servicable enough issue, and it's kinda cool to see the Hulk and Iron Man team up, but that isn't the real story of this issue. The real story is how many plotlines can get aborted in time for Layton and Michelenie to leave with issue #250.
The AIM/Maggia/HYDRA gang wars thing gets wrapped up rather perfunctorily (not that there was much there there when you get down to it) as does the whole business with Stark in the wheelchair. You see, he was supposed to be crippled for a good long time, and his increasing remoteness was going to basically be him giving up his civilian identity so he could be Iron Man full time. As it will eventually happen, Stark gets the use of his legs back next issue just so everything can be back to normal in time for the rematch with Dr. Doom the issue after that.
I can't really say I'm sorry about the plot getting cut short--it wasn't really that interesting at the time and a lot of it Stark being a mopey surly asshole and that's something of a narrative dead end too, so really, it was no big loss, even though the resolution leads to more than a few plotting nightmares yet to come. Best not to dwell on those for the moment, however.