Monday

OMU: Frankenstein Family

When the story of Frankenstein was imported to comics by Gary Friedrich & Mike Ploog as part of Marvel’s monster craze in the early 1970s, they decided to approach it more as a sequel to the novel rather than a straightforward adaptation. Thus, the series opens with the Frankenstein Monster being discovered in the Arctic in 1898 by Captain Robert Walton’s great-grandson (conveniently named Robert Walton IV). The story of Mary Shelley’s novel is then told in flashback over the next few issues before the Monster goes off to have new adventures. Eventually, in an effort to boost sales, Marvel brought the Monster into a modern-day setting so he could interact with more-popular characters. As such, we see the Monster active in three distinct time periods. An oft-repeated trope of the series, then, is the Monster encountering the “last living descendant” of his creator (ignoring the fact that Victor Frankenstein died childless), which introduces us to various members of the Frankenstein family over several generations. Due to Marvel’s infamous sliding timescale, unfortunately, the genealogy of this family has become muddled, so I decided to straighten it out using my timeline for the Original Marvel Universe.

Luckily, Mary Shelley neglected to kill off Victor Frankenstein’s brother Ernest before the end of the novel, so we can safely assume it is through him that the family line reaches to the present day. The lives of Ernest and his son were never detailed in any canonical story, though, and information about other generations is often very sketchy. Thus, I indulge in more speculation here than is customary. As a guiding principle, I decided that James Whale’s Frankenstein movies actually depicted a composite of characters and events from various generations of the horror-haunted family. This was mixed with elements from the established history of the Original Marvel Universe, as well as real-world history, to flesh out what we know from the published comics.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Lumbering on with… The True History of the Frankenstein Family!


1774 – Alphonse Frankenstein, the current Baron von Frankenstein, is a retired government official from Geneva, Switzerland, and he and his much younger wife, Caroline Beaufort Frankenstein, are touring the sunnier climes of southern Europe for health reasons. While in Naples, Italy, they have their first child, Victor Frankenstein.

1775 – Elizabeth Lavenza is born in Milan, Italy, to an Italian nobleman and his German-born wife. Elizabeth’s mother dies in childbirth, so her father places the baby in the care of a wetnurse. However, the father soon disappears while on a military campaign in Austria, leaving Elizabeth a penniless orphan.

1779 – The Frankensteins find Elizabeth Lavenza living in squalor and make her their ward, rescuing her from abject poverty.

1781 – When their second child, Ernest Frankenstein, is born, Alphonse and Caroline settle down at an estate in their native Geneva, Switzerland. Victor and Elizabeth are raised as cousins and become very close, but the parents hope they will one day marry. Though by nature a loner, Victor befriends a schoolmate named Henry Clerval, the adventurous son of a Geneva merchant.

1787 – Victor becomes obsessed with the works of medieval alchemists such as Albertus Magnus, Cornelius Agrippa, and Paracelsus, especially their search for the “elixir of life.”

1789 – After witnessing the power of lightning firsthand, Victor abandons the alchemists to take up the study of modern science.

1790 – William Frankenstein is born in Geneva, Switzerland, the third son of Alphonse and Caroline Frankenstein.

1791 – Weeks after his mother dies of scarlet fever, Victor leaves Geneva to attend the University of Ingolstadt in Bavaria, where he is soon recognized as a brilliant student of chemistry and biology. One of his professors, Monsieur Waldman, renews Victor’s interest in the alchemists, suggesting their esoteric wisdom could be combined with the scientific method to perform wondrous feats.

1793 – Victor discovers a means of reanimating dead tissue and begins constructing an eight-foot-tall human figure out of the parts of a dozen corpses. Believing he has discovered the key to immortality, he works obsessively on his secret project, driving himself to the point of nervous exhaustion.

1794 – In November, Victor finally succeeds in animating his cadaverous creature. Horrified by what he has done, the young scientist rejects his creation, leaving it to wander off into the surrounding forests. Victor suffers a nervous breakdown, but is nursed back to health by his childhood friend, Henry Clerval.

1795 – Traumatized by his experience, Victor abandons science altogether and spends the year studying Middle Eastern languages and literatures with Clerval.

1796 – When his youngest brother, William, is murdered in May, Victor leaves the University of Ingolstadt and returns to Geneva. He is horrified to discover that his Monster has committed the crime and framed the family’s servant-girl, Justine Moritz. Victor is consumed with guilt when Justine is executed, but he knows no one would believe his incredible tale. Two months later, he retreats into the Alps, where the Monster confronts him. Having learned to speak and read French, the Monster has managed to track his creator down by reading Victor’s journal, which he inadvertently carried off with him when he escaped from the laboratory. Tired of being all alone in the world, the Monster demands a mate. Giving in to the creature’s threats, Victor agrees to create a female monster. However, realizing he needs to consult with certain scientists in London, Victor plans a trip to England first. His father insists on Clerval accompanying him, and, after a slow trek across Europe, the two old friends reach London by mid-December.

1797 – After parting ways with Clerval, Victor sets up a laboratory in a remote house on the Orkney Islands of northern Scotland. There, with great reluctance, he assembles a female figure out of numerous dead women, some of whom are murdered by the Monster for their organs. However, fearing that he would be the creator of a monster race, Victor destroys the creature moments after animating it. He flees to Ireland, but his vengeful Monster finds Clerval and murders him, framing Victor for the crime. Languishing in prison, Victor suffers another nervous breakdown.

1798 – Victor is released from prison due to his father’s efforts to clear his name. They return to Geneva, where Victor and Elizabeth are finally married. That night, however, the Monster sneaks into the bedroom and strangles Elizabeth to death. A few days later, Alphonse dies from grief, making Victor the new Baron von Frankenstein. However, Victor suffers another psychotic break. After a few months, he pulls himself together and swears to hunt down and destroy his murderous creation. The chase leads Victor across much of the world, with the Monster always remaining just out of reach.

1799 – Pursuing the Monster to the Arctic, Victor comes upon the ice-bound ship of Captain Robert Walton, where the last of his strength finally gives out. Victor tells his story to Walton, who transcribes it into a series of letters to his sister, Margaret Saville, in England. After a few weeks, Victor Frankenstein dies at the age of 26. Soon after, the Monster boards the ship, and is grieved to find his creator dead. After a confrontation with Walton, the Monster wanders off into the frozen wastes. Abandoning their ill-fated expedition, Walton and his crew make their way back to civilization.

1800 – When Victor’s body is at last returned to Geneva, his brother Ernest becomes the new Baron von Frankenstein. Devastated by the death of his entire family, Ernest uses his inheritance to buy a remote 500-year-old castle in the Swiss Alps, where he takes up residence. The dilapidated structure then comes to be known as Castle Frankenstein.

1813 – Growing weary of his solitude, Ernest finally marries, taking a young Geneva woman named Elsa Manoir as his wife. She joins him at his secluded retreat and tries to brighten up their gloomy abode.

1814 – Ernest and Elsa have a son, Henry Frankenstein, who is born in the remote castle.

1818 – Following the publication of Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley’s novel Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus, Ernest suffers greatly from the infamy it brings his family, even though most of the world believes the story to be fictional. Many people in Geneva, however, recognize that there is much truth in it. The revelations about the deaths of Justine Moritz, Henry Clerval, and Elizabeth Lavenza cause many to conclude that Victor Frankenstein was a murderous madman. The resulting scandal leads Ernest to become a total recluse.

1830 – Her relationship with her husband having slowly disintegrated, Elsa Frankenstein decides she can no longer live with the shame and ostracism resulting from Shelley’s novel. She commits suicide by throwing herself off the castle’s highest tower. With no suicide note, Ernest is investigated by the authorities on the suspicion of murdering his wife. He is ultimately exonerated, but lives under a shadow for the rest of his lonely, miserable life. Henry, a frail and sickly boy, is traumatized by the death of his mother, but his stern, emotionally remote father can offer no comfort.

1831 – At the age of 17, Henry leaves home and settles in Munich, Germany, where he becomes obsessed with the idea of contacting his mother’s spirit. This leads him to a group of occultists in Dachau led by Margareta Vogel, a woman some years his senior. Margareta soon seduces Henry, and within a few months, they are married.

1832 – With the release of a revised edition, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein becomes more popular than ever. To cash in on the novel’s success, Robert Walton Jr. publishes a limited-edition volume of the unedited text of his father’s letters from the 1798–99 expedition.

1833 – Henry and Margareta have a son, Jason Frankenstein, who is named for the hero of Greek mythology.

1836 – Henry seems to succeed in communicating with his mother’s spirit, and she urges him to raise her from the grave. Henry is eager to do so, but lacks the necessary mystical power. Thus, the spirit agrees to instruct him and his circle of friends in the arts of black magic and necromancy. Over the next 25 years, the group devotes itself to the study of sorcery, often stealing bodies from Munich-area graveyards on which to practice their resurrection spells. Henry and Margareta shield young Jason from the more gruesome aspects of their endeavors to raise the dead, but he grows up aware of his parents’ practice of black magic.

1847 – Normal teenage rebellion leads Jason to a desire to be an Egyptologist, so he strives to reject the occult and embrace rationalism.

1850 – Jason leaves home to attend the University of Munich. There, he meets Dr. Septimus Pretorius, a professor of philosophy, who helps Jason reconcile science and magic in the pursuit of knowledge.

1852 – Jason marries Yvonne Teufel, the daughter of members of his parents’ coven.

1853 – Jason and Yvonne have a son, Vincent Frankenstein, who is born in the same house in Munich as his father was twenty years earlier.

1856 – Jason travels to Cairo, Egypt, to explore the Giza Plateau and other sites. There, he stumbles upon a hidden chamber dating back to Hyborian-era Stygia, where he discovers one of the lost parchments of the Darkhold. Intrigued, he takes it back to Munich to consult with Dr. Pretorius. Convinced he is on the cusp of a momentous discovery, Jason devotes the next five years to studying the scroll and deciphering its arcane inscriptions. He makes frequent trips to Egypt in a fruitless search for further traces of this lost civilization.

1861 – Ernest Frankenstein dies at age 80 after a lifetime of loneliness and ill-health. Henry thus becomes the new Baron von Frankenstein at the age of 47. He relocates his coven to Castle Frankenstein in the Swiss Alps, where he finally exhumes his mother’s corpse. The resurrection spell that the group casts takes effect and the body is returned to a semblance of life. However, they discover too late that the spirit Henry had been in contact with was not Elsa Frankenstein at all, but a demon seeking physical form so as to escape from Hell. The demon murders Margareta and several of the other occultists before going on a rampage through the nearby communities. A mob of torch-wielding villagers then chases the demon into an old mill and sets it on fire. As its host body is incinerated, the demon is sent screaming back to Hell. Henry remains in the castle, a broken man.

1862 – Jason takes his wife and son to live in Castle Frankenstein so they can care for his heartbroken father. Jason continues to work on his ancient parchment, enjoying a lively correspondence with Dr. Pretorius. He also travels extensively, consulting with experts in many disciplines, but his ideas about the parchment are ridiculed and rejected.

1866 – Vincent discovers the notebooks of his great-great uncle Victor inside a locked cabinet in the castle library and is intrigued by the bizarre mixture of 18th-century science and medieval alchemy within. Though he doubts the macabre tales about Victor Frankenstein are true, Vincent nevertheless becomes fascinated by the idea of creating a powerful artificial lifeform to serve him.

1870 – Vincent leaves home to go to college in London, England, as he is ashamed of his family’s tarnished reputation and wishes to leave Europe. There, he studies the chemical and biological sciences as his ancestor had done. Now left alone with her ailing father-in-law, Yvonne grows bitter and resentful toward Jason, but this only drives him to extend his excursions to foreign lands.

1875 – Henry Frankenstein drinks himself to death at age 61, never having recovered from the horror of his experience. Jason, who is in Munich visiting Dr. Pretorius, learns that he is now the Baron von Frankenstein. Soon after, Jason brings Pretorius to the castle, as they have made a breakthrough in translating the parchment’s inscriptions. Pretorius has recognized the text to be a magical incantation and convinces Jason they should weave the spell, believing it would call forth a genie to grant them power and riches. However, the spell actually conjures up a gigantic, demonic spider referred to as a “Child of Zath.” Stricken with horror, Jason panics and runs away as the spider attacks. Before he can make a move, Pretorius falls into the spider’s clutches, and it sucks out his soul, leaving him little more than a zombie. The spider then chases Jason through the castle, causing tremendous damage as it goes. Yvonne blunders onto the scene, and the spider turns her into a zombie as well. Finally, Jason manages to lead the spider to a deep stone pit, which it falls into. The spider is unable to scale the slimy stones and is trapped. Jason locks the two zombies in the dungeon and flees the castle in mortal terror. He travels to London to take refuge with his son, warning Vincent never to return to Castle Frankenstein.

1883 – After eight years of vainly studying the parchment in hopes of discovering a counter-spell, Jason Frankenstein becomes gravely ill and soon dies at the age of 50. Becoming the new Baron von Frankenstein, Vincent donates his father’s mysterious parchment to the British Library, where it is filed away with numerous other unidentified artifacts. Inheriting what remains of the family fortune, Vincent uses the money to finance his biochemical experiments, allowing the castle to fall to ruin.

1884 – Vincent meets a Russian hunchback named Ivan and hires him to be his manservant—and test subject. In the course of his experiments, Vincent injects Ivan with chemical solutions that greatly increase his size, strength, and resistance to injury.

1895 – At age 42, Vincent marries a much younger English woman named Lenore Carlyle. To suit his wife’s station as a baroness, Vincent hires a lady’s maid, Betty Baker, to serve her. However, Vincent often neglects his young wife while working obsessively in his basement laboratory, which angers Betty.

1898 – When Lenore becomes pregnant, Betty’s resentment of her master’s neglectful behavior grows. She is infuriated when Vincent suddenly leaves for a trip to the continent just as Lenore’s pregnancy is coming to term. Having heard rumors of a gruesome giant traveling around the Balkans with a troupe of gypsy performers, Vincent takes Ivan and tracks the brute to a cave in Transylvania. There, Vincent realizes he has found his ancestor’s creation, the infamous Frankenstein Monster, somehow still alive a century after he was last seen. After smuggling the Monster into his London laboratory, Vincent decides to transplant Ivan’s brain into the Monster’s body. However, Ivan refuses and tries to kill Vincent, relenting only when Betty informs them that Lenore has gone into labor. Vincent races to his wife’s bedroom and delivers his son, Basil Frankenstein, with Betty’s help. Taking a pistol, Vincent then returns to the laboratory, where he sees Ivan fighting with the Monster. To protect his ancestor’s creation, Vincent shoots Ivan in the back, killing him. The Monster attacks Vincent with a sword, forcing him to shoot the creature twice in the chest. While bemoaning the loss of such a fascinating specimen, Vincent ignores Betty’s urgent pleas to return to his wife’s bedside. By the time Vincent emerges from the laboratory, Lenore has died, and Betty, disgusted by her master’s behavior, shoots him dead. Fearing arrest, Betty takes baby Basil and flees the country, settling in Hamburg, Germany, where she raises the boy as her own son.

1914 – With the declaration of war between Germany and England, Betty is deported as an enemy alien. To enable 16-year-old Basil to remain in the only home he’s ever known, she reveals that he is actually the son of the former Baron von Frankenstein, a title which he inherited on the day he was born. She also tells Basil that she has one other terrible secret, which she vows to reveal to him on her deathbed. After Betty has been sent back to England, Basil moves to Berlin and enrolls in the university there to study medical science.

1915 – Early in the year, Basil gets a local girl, Hedwig Schultz, pregnant, so he decides to marry her. When his son Ludwig Frankenstein is born nine months later, Basil considers trying to claim his family’s land holdings in Switzerland in order to escape the war. Unfortunately, he has insufficient evidence to back his claim, so he instead signs up to serve the war effort in a Berlin military hospital.

1916 – Confronted by the horrors of war, Basil recognizes an opportunity for unprecedented medical research. In the course of treating thousands of wounded soldiers, he develops numerous advanced surgical techniques and masters the intricacies of human anatomy.

1919 – Following the end of the war, Basil becomes one of Berlin’s most successful surgeons, amassing a small fortune in the process. The long hours that he works leave him little time for his son, so Ludwig grows up extremely attached to his doting mother.

1926 – Enjoying a luxurious lifestyle, Basil sends for Betty to come live with them as his mother. When she arrives, Basil introduces her to Ludwig as “Oma” [Grandma]. Basil is also pleased to find that Betty has brought most of Vincent Frankenstein’s papers, which had been put in storage by the family solicitor back in 1898. Among the papers, Basil discovers the notebooks of his great-great-great-uncle, Victor Frankenstein, and soon becomes obsessed with his ancestor’s attempts to reanimate the dead.

1928 – Basil attends the International Conference on Genetics held in Geneva, Switzerland. There, he meets another young German scientist with similar research interests, Abraham Erskine, as well as Arnim Zola of Switzerland and Wladyslav Shinski of Poland. They all share ideas with each other over the course of the conference. Basil returns to Berlin eager to continue his revivification experiments.

1929 – When a flu epidemic sweeps through Berlin, both Betty and Hedwig succumb to the disease and die. Basil and Ludwig are devastated by their loss. Realizing that Betty hadn’t had the chance to make her deathbed confession, Basil takes her body to his laboratory and experiments on it, determined to revive her. A week later, his studies of his ancestors’ notebooks pays off when Basil succeeds in reanimating Betty’s corpse long enough for her to reveal her dread secret. However, unable to bear the revelation that Betty murdered his father in cold blood, Basil convinces himself that some demon has taken over Betty’s corpse to spout loathsome lies, and he hacks up the body until it is dead again. This terrifying experience crushes Basil’s hopes of bringing his wife back to life, and he goes into a profound depression.

1930 – Lacking any parental guidance, Ludwig gets his girlfriend Greta Henkel pregnant. Basil feels he cannot reproach his son, as he had done the same thing himself, but this merely fuels Ludwig’s sense of entitlement.

1931 – Ludwig agrees to marry Greta so his child will not be illegitimate, though he has already soured on their relationship. In the summer, his daughter, Victoria Frankenstein, is born. Soon afterwards, Ludwig leaves Berlin to go to college in Geneva, Switzerland, glad to finally be out of his father’s house. Greta and Victoria remain behind, as Basil agrees to support them in a modest lifestyle. He provides them with a small house on the west side of Berlin, though in his inconsolable grief he rarely makes time to see them. Meanwhile, Universal Studios releases James Whale’s film Frankenstein, launching a popular franchise based on accounts of Victor Frankenstein and his descendants.

1933 – Basil finally returns to his research, becoming ever more obsessed with perfecting his reanimation techniques.

1934 – At the University of Geneva, Ludwig is recognized as a brilliant student of biochemistry, though he is known as a notorious rake and a libertine. One of his lovers gets pregnant and bears him another daughter, Veronica Frankenstein. Though the baby is born out of wedlock, Ludwig accepts her as his own and provides financial support, due to his continuing fondness for her mother.

1936 – Basil meets a young Japanese woman, Dr. Kitagowa, who is studying advanced surgical techniques at the University of Berlin teaching hospital, and they become good friends. He takes to calling her “Kitty” when the proper pronunciation of her given name eludes him. After several months, Basil confides in her the nature and purpose of his reanimation experiments, and, to his great relief, she is fascinated by his research.

1937 – Upon receiving his Ph.D. in biochemistry, Ludwig is invited to join the faculty of the University of Geneva, though the nature of his research becomes increasingly controversial.

1938 – Basil suffers a terrible accident in his laboratory that leaves him completely paralyzed from the waist down and renders his hands capable of only the most rudimentary tasks. Kitty agrees to become his full-time lab assistant, making it possible for him to continue his research. Working so closely together, they eventually fall in love. Kitty soon hits upon a way to combine both their specialties so as to develop a means to transplant Basil’s brain into a younger, healthier, and more virile body.

1939 – With the outbreak of World War II, Basil and Kitty see an opportunity to have the Nazis fund their experiments. They set up a demonstration for Heinrich Himmler and his Ahnenerbe research organization, promising a way to bring dead soldiers back to a semblance of life so they can keep fighting. Himmler is enthusiastic about their work and promises full funding. However, Basil and Kitty keep their brain-transplant project a secret. Meanwhile, Ludwig is relieved that Switzerland remains officially neutral, so he can continue his research unimpeded by the war.

1940 – The Nazis help Basil finally gain possession of his family’s estate in Switzerland, expertly forging papers to definitively establish him as the current and legitimate Baron von Frankenstein. Basil and Kitty then move into the dilapidated Castle Frankenstein, which has been abandoned since 1875 and was heavily damaged in a mysterious flood in 1898. While they set up their laboratory, work crews are brought in to restore the castle to a reasonably habitable state, though the residents of the nearby village refuse to participate.

1941 – Basil becomes fascinated by the American superhero known as the Human Torch, an android recently created by Phineas T. Horton, and comes to believe that the Torch’s artificial body contains secrets vital to his reanimation experiments. Thus, he makes a plan with the Nazi high command to lure the Torch into a trap. In the summer, Basil and Kitty begin stealing freshly buried corpses from the local graveyards, hoping to replicate Victor Frankenstein’s achievement. Their activities stir up the locals, who remember all too well the strange and horrible incidents of the past. By the end of the year, the two scientists have succeeded in creating a living monster from stitched-together body parts from various corpses, with an implant in its brain to keep it under control.

1942 – In January, the Human Torch and his junior partner Toro are lured to Castle Frankenstein and imprisoned. Basil’s analysis of the Torch’s unique android physiognomy is interrupted when Captain America and Bucky arrive to rescue their friends. While the monster captures the heroes, Basil and Kitty decide that Captain America’s body would be perfect for Basil’s brain transplant. Their plans are foiled, though, when the Sub-Mariner arrives on the scene and, with a powerful punch in the head, destroys the implant in the creature’s brain. Immediately, the vengeful monster grabs Basil and Kitty and, knocking the heroes out of the way, carries them to the top of the castle. To Basil’s horror, the creature leaps to its death, taking its creators with it. Basil is killed instantly when they hit the ground.

Ludwig is informed of his father’s death and that he is to inherit the title Baron von Frankenstein and his family’s estate in the Swiss Alps. Unaware that his family even owned such a property, Ludwig goes to inspect it and is excited to discover the castle’s well-stocked laboratory. Finding the papers of his ancestors within, Ludwig resolves to expand upon—and eventually surpass—the achievements of his forebears. He resigns his position at the University of Geneva, intending to live off the income generated by the vast estate. However, the villagers object to yet another Frankenstein conducting strange experiments in the castle, and warn Ludwig that they will not tolerate being threatened by monsters. Ludwig dismisses their concerns and sets about his work. Within a few weeks, Ludwig discovers a hunchback named Borgo living in the bowels of the castle. His first impulse is to throw Borgo out, but the hunchback’s obsequious manner convinces Ludwig to take him on as an assistant.

1945 – With the war’s end, Ludwig stops sending money to his two daughters and never sees them again. Greta struggles to raise Victoria in Berlin, which had been heavily bombed during the fighting and faces strict rationing as part of the Allied occupation. Still, they consider themselves lucky not to have been living on the east side of the city, which is controlled by the Soviets. After school, Victoria volunteers at a local hospital, intent on becoming a nurse. She is unaware of her half-sister living in Switzerland. Veronica and her mother, also finding themselves without income, move from Geneva to Zurich. There, the mother passes herself off as a war-widow, claiming that Veronica’s father died defending Switzerland from the Nazis, and thus manages to marry a wealthy banker much older than herself. They then move into a remote castle in the Swiss Alps, though Veronica is soon sent off to boarding school. She remains unaware that her biological father is living in his own castle not far away.

1950s – Throughout the decade, Ludwig conducts genetic experimentation on war orphans, producing dozens and dozens of deformed, dwarfish cretins who are consigned to the dungeons and the woods surrounding the castle. They sustain themselves by stealing food from the nearby villages and come to be known far and wide as “The Children of the Damned.” Ludwig grows increasingly unhinged as his bizarre experiments inevitably end in failure.

In Berlin, Victoria becomes a nurse and takes a job at one of the city hospitals. Though the economy improves over the years, both Victoria and her mother remain fearful that the city could at any time be absorbed into the communist territory that surrounds it. This leads Victoria to adopt a fatalist attitude, and she decides to never marry or have children. Meanwhile, Veronica enrolls in the University of Geneva, intent on becoming a surgeon. While in college, Veronica discovers Mary Shelley’s novel about her great-great-great-great-great-uncle, and tracks down a rare edition of the letters of Captain Robert Walton, on which the novel is based. Through these books, she becomes fascinated by the strange history of her father’s family. On various breaks from school, Veronica travels to Bavaria, Germany, to search for the archives of the long-defunct University of Ingolstadt, but never finds any record of Victor’s experiments. Inspired by her ancestor’s example, Veronica majors in biophysics and then attends medical school.

1962 – Hoping to make himself the master of life and death, Ludwig returns to his ancestors’ efforts to reanimate dead bodies. Borgo helps him obtain freshly buried corpses from nearby churchyards, but these experiments are also unsuccessful, causing Ludwig’s rage to grow. However, he does manage to develop a process to transpose the minds of two individuals, which he tests on small animals. Also, using his father’s notes on Phineas T. Horton’s research, Ludwig invents a machine to create a synthetic duplicate of a living being, endowed with the subject’s talents and abilities. The duplicate is formed from a large lump of synthetic material that Ludwig refers to as “clay.” He sees this “Experiment X” as his final triumph over his ancestors, as it would allow him to create new life rather than merely reanimate a dead body. Unfortunately, all the animals he subjects to the process die before the duplicate can be formed, and Borgo balks at procuring live human test subjects. To placate his loathsome assistant, Ludwig falsely promises Borgo that he will never complete “Experiment X.”

In Geneva, Veronica has become a successful surgeon, but when her parents move to Italy for the warmer climate, she takes up residence in her stepfather’s castle. In one wing, she sets up a private laboratory and surgical suite, where she treats wealthy clients who would prefer not to go to a hospital. Finding great success, Veronica invites her rather weak-willed boyfriend, Werner Schmidt, to move in with her.

1964 – By pure chance, Ludwig finds the perfect test subject for “Experiment X”—the Silver Surfer. Claiming the device will be able to purify the mind of evil impulses once properly calibrated, Ludwig convinces the Surfer to cooperate. However, the device instead siphons off some of the alien’s cosmic power to create an evil doppelgänger of the Silver Surfer. Realizing he’s been betrayed, the real Surfer breaks out of the machine, smashing to it to pieces, but the doppelgänger knocks him out with an energy bolt. Ludwig sends his creation out to terrorize the villagers, then tries to kill the real Surfer when he regains consciousness. Ludwig’s bullets have no effect on the alien’s silvery skin, which emboldens Borgo to betray his master by telling the Silver Surfer what’s happened. After the Surfer has set off to destroy his evil double, Ludwig beats Borgo viciously. Soon after, a group of angry villagers storms the castle, but, rather than let Ludwig pick them off with his rifle, Borgo tackles his master. They both tumble out of a third-story window and fall to their deaths. Breaking his neck, Ludwig Frankenstein dies at the age of 49.

Shortly afterward, Victoria is informed of her father’s death, and that, as his sole legitimate heir, she is to inherit Castle Frankenstein in the Swiss Alps and become the Baroness von Frankenstein. Intrigued, she travels to the remote site, only to be horrified to discover the Children of the Damned living there in filth and squalor. Their leader, a hunchback named Igor, tells her of their origins. The guilt-stricken Victoria immediately resigns from her nursing job in Berlin and dedicates herself to the care of these freakish outcasts that her father created and abandoned. Settling into the castle, Victoria discovers the papers left behind by her ancestors and pieces together the ghastly history of the Frankenstein family. She blames much of the family’s tragedy on the original Monster, believing him to have murdered both his creator, Victor, as well as her great-grandfather, Vincent.

1965 – Not far away, Veronica begins to hear reports that suggest the original Frankenstein Monster has resurfaced after almost 70 years. Believing herself to be the last surviving member of the Frankenstein family, Veronica decides to find the Monster and help him in any way possible, to atone for the suffering that Victor’s reckless experiments caused.

1966 – In the spring, Veronica hires New York City private investigator Eric Prawn to track down the Monster and bring him to Switzerland. Assuming a man like Prawn would not like taking orders from a woman, Veronica has Werner make all the phone calls while passing himself off as a Frankenstein. After several weeks, Prawn reports numerous run-ins with agents of I.C.O.N.—the International Crime Organizations Nexus—who are seeking Frankenstein’s Monster for their own nefarious purposes. Finally, in September, Prawn rescues the Monster from I.C.O.N. and brings him to Veronica’s castle, along with the creature’s loyal friend, a disaffected New Yorker named Ralph Caccone. While Veronica performs throat surgery on the Monster to restore his power of speech, I.C.O.N. sends zombie-like commandos and a hulking robot called the Berserker to recapture the Monster. Prawn cuts down the undead commandos with his machine gun, giving Veronica time to complete the operation. The Monster then fights with the robot, disabling it with a jolt of electricity. Though grateful to be able to speak again, the Monster recoils from Veronica’s expressions of pity and storms off into the mountains, never to return. Werner reveals his treachery by repairing the robot, enabling the Berserker to set off after the Monster. Enraged, Caccone grabs Prawn’s machine gun and fires on the I.C.O.N. helicopter that has landed to extract Werner. The helicopter explodes when the fuel tank is breached, killing Werner and the two agents aboard. Veronica remains cool in the face of Werner’s violent death, not one to brook betrayal. Eventually, Prawn and Caccone go home to America, leaving Veronica to her boutique medical practice.

At Castle Frankenstein, the Children of the Damned report to Victoria that the Monster has been spotted wandering the countryside in the company of a large robot. She orders them to capture the creature at once. Through the sheer weight of numbers, the Children manage to destroy the Berserker and drag the Monster into the castle, where they chain him to a wall. Unfortunately, the Monster breaks free and, in the ensuing fight, kills several of the Children. Victoria arrives in time to stop him from killing Igor. She accuses the Monster of murdering two of her ancestors, but he insists he killed neither man—Victor pursued him into the Arctic and died of exposure, while Vincent was shot by an unknown assailant and was already dead when the Monster found him. Despite her suspicions, Victoria finds she believes the Monster’s account and allows him to stay at the castle unmolested. In the months that follow, the Baroness and the Monster get to know each other, and a deep bond of kinship develops between them.

1967 – The Children of the Damned capture a large black horse with Pegasus-like wings that has been wandering aimlessly around Europe. Using the castle’s laboratory facilities, Victoria tries to return the horse to normal, but succeeds only in mutating it further. The horse, which now has a terrifying demonic aspect, is kept inside the castle so it can’t escape and terrorize the villagers.

1968 – In the winter, the Children of the Damned find a Latverian scientist, Bram Velsing, suffering from exposure in the woods. They bring him to Castle Frankenstein, where Victoria is shocked to discover that the frightening metal mask Velsing wears has somehow been fused to his face and cannot be removed. Regardless, she nurses him back to health over the course of many months. Eventually, Velsing reveals that he had rebelled against his master, the cruel despot Doctor Doom, and the gruesome mask is his punishment. Both Victoria and the Monster are sympathetic, and give Velsing the run of the castle, not suspecting that he is plotting to use the mutated horse in an elaborate revenge scheme against Doctor Doom.

1969 – Bram Velsing finally makes his move, donning an armored costume and calling himself “The Dreadknight.” He takes Victoria prisoner, attempting to force her to reveal the process which created the Children of the Damned so that he might build an army of mutated soldiers. She refuses to cooperate and, luckily, the Children manage to recruit the American superhero Iron Man to come to their rescue. Iron Man overcomes the Dreadknight’s arsenal of homemade weapons and, with a little help from the Frankenstein Monster, the villain is defeated. Iron Man leaves the comatose Dreadknight in Victoria’s care and departs.

1975 – Victoria is puzzled when both the Dreadknight and the mutated horse suddenly disappear one stormy night. After six years in a coma, Velsing’s recovery is nothing short of miraculous.


Notes:

1774–1799 – Victor Frankenstein’s life is chronicled in the novel Frankenstein, or, The Modern Prometheus by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley and briefly retold by Captain Robert Walton’s great-grandson in Marvel’s Monster of Frankenstein #1–3 (with the Monster himself providing additional details). Throughout the novel, Shelley gives the dates as “17—” to indicate it takes place in the 18th century without nailing it down to specific years. However, she boxes herself in somewhat by twice having the characters quote from Lyrical Ballads by William Wordsworth & Samuel Taylor Coleridge, which was published in October 1798. Thus, I can only surmise that Captain Robert Walton picked up a copy of this newly released book on his way out of London at the start of his arctic expedition, and had reached St. Petersburgh, Russia, by December 11th of that year, when he wrote the first letter to his sister that opens the novel. This puts Walton’s meeting with Victor Frankenstein at August 1, 1799, and working backward from there, the chronology comes together quite simply. Furthermore, we know the story must take place no earlier than the last decade of the 18th century when the Monster mentions having read the Count de Volney’s Ruins of Empires, which was published in 1791. The anachronistic appearance of lines from Percy Bysshe Shelley’s 1816 poem “Mutability” in chapter 10 is obviously an interpolation by Mary Shelley to promote her husband’s work.

1800 – The castle purchased by Victor’s brother Ernest, which is located in the Swiss Alps, is not to be confused with the original Castle Frankenstein that sits outside the German city of Darmstadt. The earlier fortress, visited by Solomon Kane in Savage Sword of Conan #22, had fallen into ruins by the late 18th century and was uninhabitable.

1818 – Mary Shelley’s novel is discussed in Uncanny X-Men #40, revealing that the book exists in the Marvel Universe even though the events described in it actually happened there. Later, a copy of the novel makes an appearance in Frankenstein Monster #13.

1832 – In Monsters Unleashed #2, Derek McDowell is shown to be in possession of a volume that is just Robert Walton’s letters from the expedition, with no mention of Mary Shelley. This should be considered a separate book from the novel.

1875 – Jason Frankenstein is mentioned in Frankenstein Monster #6, where it is revealed he abandoned the castle over twenty years before 1898. The story revolves around the spider in the pit, which has been turning human victims into zombie-like creatures for some time. Zath is a spider-god from the Conan mythos.

1898 – Having been revived from a century of suspended animation in the Arctic, the Frankenstein Monster makes his way to Castle Frankenstein in search of a living descendant of his creator. Instead, he finds a Colonel Blackstone using the giant demonic spider to create an army of zombies to further his plans of conquest. The Monster floods the castle, drowning both the spider and the colonel and causing extensive damage to the structure. The Monster’s wanderings then take him to Transylvania where he battles Dracula. In Frankenstein Monster #9, we meet Vincent Frankenstein, who takes the Monster home to London, England in the next issue. Vincent and Ivan’s plans for the Monster go awry while Betty tends to the suffering Lenore. At the end of #11, Betty shoots Vincent and takes the orphaned Basil to raise as her own (although the baby is not named in the story). The Monster wanders off, only to wind up in suspended animation again.

1928 – The International Conference on Genetics held in Geneva is depicted in X-Factor Annual #3. Also seen to be in attendance are Herbert Edgar Wyndham and Jonathan Drew. Wyndham notes that “everybody who’s anybody in the field of life sciences” is at the conference, so I’m sure that would include Basil Frankenstein and Abraham Erskine, even though they aren’t shown.

1931 – Boris Karloff’s Frankenstein films are referenced in Uncanny X-Men #40 and Invaders #31. Ludwig is seen watching one of the movies in Silver Surfer #7, and, in his madness, appears to believe it to be a reliable account of his ancestor’s experiments.

1942 – Basil Frankenstein and Dr. Kitagowa run afoul of the Invaders in a flashback story in Invaders #31.

1964 – Ludwig Frankenstein is introduced in Silver Surfer #7, though his first name wasn’t revealed until Doctor Strange: Sorcerer Supreme #37 (1992). Before that, he was referred to as “Boris Frankenstein” in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, but that’s a dumb name, especially given that Boris Karloff portrayed the Frankenstein Monster in the Marvel Universe as well as ours. The hunchback Borgo was brought back for the Doctor Strange story, but that occurred only in the Second Marvel Universe. In the original story, he dies alongside Ludwig at the end. Around this time, the X-Men battle an alien robot made in the Frankenstein Monster’s image, as seen in Uncanny X-Men #40.

1965 – The Frankenstein Monster transitions into the modern day in Frankenstein Monster #12, then has a series of misadventures in the black & white magazines Monsters Unleashed and Legion of Monsters, as well as guest-starring in Giant-Size Werewolf #2.

1966 – Veronica Frankenstein is introduced in Frankenstein Monster #16. The multi-issue storyline also features Werner Schmidt, Eric Prawn, and Ralph Caccone along with I.C.O.N. and their various agents. Then, Baroness Victoria Frankenstein and the Children of the Damned show up in Frankenstein Monster #18. Her relationship to Veronica is not made clear in the original story or in The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe, but making them half-sisters made the most sense to me.

1967–1969 – Victoria returns in Iron Man #101–102, where she, the Frankenstein Monster, and the Children of the Damned are menaced by the Dreadknight. The villain’s mutated steed, called the Hellhorse, originally belonged to the early supervillain called the Black Knight. During this period, the Monster meets Spider-Man in Marvel Team-Up #36–37, but Victoria is not involved.

1975 – Castle Frankenstein is seen on the first page of the second issue of the Black Knight limited series when the Dreadknight is finally revived from his coma by Morgan le Fey. However, none of the castle’s other inhabitants make an appearance.


Next Issue: Ant-Man – Year Four


Wednesday

OMU: Iron Man -- Year Four

Tony Stark finally starts to emerge from the shadow of death during the next twelve months of his career as Iron Man. Though still dependent on the life-support system in his armor’s chestplate, his health begins to markedly improve, allowing him to return to active duty in the Avengers and generally become a more proactive superhero. Much of the year is taken up with Tony’s effort to reorder his company’s priorities, moving Stark Industries away from weapons manufacturing to less lethal technologies. This is accompanied by another shake-up in the supporting cast, with Jasper Sitwell and Whitney Frost being written out in favor of Tony’s new psychic fiancée, Marianne Rodgers, and his ill-fated engineer / sidekick Kevin O’Brien. Going forward, Tony’s fortunes will continue to improve.

Note: The following timeline depicts the Original Marvel Universe (anchored to November 1961 as the first appearance of the Fantastic Four and proceeding forward from there. See previous posts for a detailed explanation of my rationale.) Some information presented on the timeline is speculative and some is based on historical accounts. See the Notes section at the end for clarifications.


Now resuming… The True History of the Invincible Iron Man!


January 1965 – Tony Stark prepares to deliver a speech at the United Nations, entitled “The Scientist’s Responsibility Towards Man,” in which he sees a chance to lay out his justifications for moving Stark Industries away from munitions to peaceful applications of technology. Before heading to the UN Building, though, Tony pays a visit to Jasper Sitwell in the hospital, where the young S.H.I.E.L.D. agent remains in a coma following his confrontation with Spymaster last month. Feeling guilty, Tony leaves the hospital and drives along the East River. The next thing he knows, Tony is in his private office a week later, his mind a jumble of vague memories and bizarre hallucinations about dragons, demons, and mechanical monsters. Kevin O’Brien is there, and he shows Tony the blueprints for a new nuclear weapons system that Tony suddenly ordered him to start building after blowing off his speaking engagement at the UN. Realizing he must have been the victim of some form of mind-control, Tony dons his Iron Man armor and goes out to investigate.

On the banks of the East River, Iron Man is attacked by a squad of armored men with jetpacks, but he loses them in the murky waters of the river. At the bottom he discovers a strange submarine and, breaking in, finds a Chinese man and woman whom he recognizes from his fever dream. The woman rants and raves about her plan to frame Tony Stark for an atomic explosion that would have devastated New York. Suddenly, their monitors show Stark Industries being destroyed in a massive nuclear blast. Sickened by the sight, Iron Man disables the sub and heads for the surface. As he rockets out of the water, an explosion from below signals that the submarine has self-destructed. Upon reaching his factory, though, Iron Man discovers that Kevin O’Brien worked with S.H.I.E.L.D. to fool the villains with a fake catastrophe after realizing that the weapons system was designed to fail. Immensely relieved, Iron Man compliments Kevin for his quick thinking.

Tony is disturbed to learn that, while he was under the influence of the Chinese agents, he created a weaponized prosthetic hand for the wealthy African-American businessman Lionel Dibbs, whom he had initially rebuffed. Dibbs then used the weapon during a racially charged confrontation with the police in San Francisco, though he was stopped by Thor. Furthermore, Tony missed the culmination of his joint project with Reed Richards and Charles Xavier to capture and cure the Hulk. Richards informs Tony that their plan failed, as the Hulk somehow vanished into thin air as soon as he was captured. As a result, General Ross suspended the project indefinitely. Learning that he was even flying around recklessly as Iron Man while not in control of himself, Tony decides to create a basic suit of armor for Kevin O’Brien to use in emergencies.

One of the first acts of newly-inaugurated President Morris N. Richardson is to create the Alien Activities Commission and appoint conservative politician H. Warren Craddock to lead it. Following the commission’s first televised hearings, Tony receives a strange letter of resignation from the Avengers’ butler, Edwin Jarvis, which claims that Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America personally disbanded the team. Confused, he calls an emergency meeting of the original members. Thor, Captain America, and Ant-Man soon join Iron Man at Avengers Mansion, but they are interrupted when the Vision staggers in and collapses. After effecting repairs to his synthezoid teammate, Ant-Man announces that he has resigned from the team and departs. When the Vision regains consciousness, he recounts how he, Goliath, Quicksilver, and the Scarlet Witch were called to testify before Craddock’s commission about their connection to the alien superhero Captain Marvel, and when they returned to the mansion, the original members declared them to be a disgrace and disbanded the team. Iron Man, Thor, and Cap assure the Vision that he has been tricked by a trio of impostors. The Vision then relates how he and the others went to rendezvous with Captain Marvel at an upstate farm, where they were attacked by three cows who suddenly transformed into doppelgängers of Mister Fantastic, the Thing, and the Human Torch. Badly damaged in the melee, the Vision was forced to abandon the fight and return to Avengers Mansion to seek help.

Taking a Quinjet, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the Vision race to the farm, where they find Goliath and Rick Jones still fighting the Fantastic Four impostors. Vision surmises that they must be Skrulls, mimicking the heroes’ powers through technological means. The Avengers defeat their foes, but then a massive flying saucer erupts from the farmhouse and speeds off into the sky, with Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel presumably aboard. As they take the unconscious Skrulls into custody, the Avengers realize the Vision has disappeared. When they arrive at their headquarters, the Avengers restrain and sedate the Skrulls, then Iron Man contacts the Fantastic Four. Reed Richards realizes the Skrulls must be three of the four who impersonated them three years ago, and he promises to send over his files on that encounter.

February 1965 – In the Avengers’ conference room, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Goliath, and Rick Jones discuss their plans to rescue their missing teammates. The Vision reappears, having discovered that Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch were indeed kidnapped by Skrulls, and that the Kree and the mysterious Inhumans are somehow involved as well. The meeting is interrupted, though, when H. Warren Craddock arrives outside the mansion with a military detachment to back him up. He intends to take the Avengers in for questioning, and has brought along three soldiers in bulky suits of armor to subdue the heroes, if necessary. Iron Man recognizes them as Mandroids, which he designed himself for S.H.I.E.L.D. After a brief scuffle, Iron Man is able to force the Mandroid suits to overload and shut down. The Avengers then realize that one of the Inhumans, Triton, has come to them for help. Triton explains that his king, Black Bolt, has been deposed by his brother, Maximus the Mad, who wants to start a war with the human race. Struck with amnesia, Black Bolt has been exiled to San Francisco and all efforts to find him have failed. Thor corroborates Triton’s story, so Cap suggests they head to California at once. The Vision objects, however, saying the rescue of Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch should be their top priority. The team decides to split up, but soon after Cap, Goliath, and Rick have left with Triton for California, the Vision changes his mind, so Thor generates a spacetime vortex that transports Iron Man, Vision, and himself to the Inhumans’ Great Refuge in the Himalayas.

Finding that the hidden city is sealed within a black force-field dome, Iron Man, Thor, and the Vision each try to penetrate it, without success. Moments later, the Quinjet lands nearby and Cap, Goliath, Rick, and Triton disembark, joined by Black Bolt and a San Francisco boy named Joey. After silently examining the barrier, Black Bolt shatters it into tiny shards with the awesome destructive power of his voice. He then asserts his authority over the city’s armed sentries and leads the Avengers to the royal palace, where they find Maximus conspiring with agents of the Kree Empire. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, the Kree agents beat a hasty retreat, kidnapping Rick in the process. Their spaceship warps into hyperspace before the Avengers can follow. Maximus is defeated, and Captain America vows that the Avengers will take the fight to the Kree and the Skrulls to rescue their friends.

The Avengers borrow a spacecraft from S.H.I.E.L.D., and with help from Thor’s enchanted hammer, they are able to warp through hyperspace to the Andromeda Galaxy. They emerge in the midst of the Skrull Imperial Armada and fight their way onto the flagship. Storming the command deck, the Avengers confront Commandant Kalxor, but he remains defiant, having learned of the Avengers from Skrull intelligence reports. Suddenly, the face of Skrull Emperor Dorrek appears on the viewscreen, revealing that Quicksilver, the Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel are his prisoners. However, Captain Marvel initiates an escape attempt just before the transmission is terminated. The Vision grabs Kalxor and beats him mercilessly, shocking his teammates with his brutality. Iron Man and Thor pull the Vision off him, and Kalxor explains that a lone ship has left the fleet to destroy the Earth. Goliath takes off in pursuit and manages to catch up to the craft before they are lost from sight. The Skrull crew then tries to overwhelm the Avengers with the sheer weight of numbers, only to be unexpectedly frozen in place by a wave of strange energy. Confused, the Avengers return to their ship, intent on reaching the Skrull Thoneworld. However, they find themselves suddenly teleported to the planet Hala in the Kree Galaxy, where they come face-to-face with the eerie visage of the Supreme Intelligence, ruler of the Kree Empire. Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Captain Marvel materialize as well, as the Supreme Intelligence reveals that Rick Jones has ended the Kree-Skrull War by awakening his latent psychic powers, though the experience has nearly killed him. Iron Man watches as Captain Marvel phases into Rick’s body to provide the additional life-force the boy will need to survive. Rick then awakens, groggy and confused. The Supreme Intelligence assures the Avengers that the crisis is over, then teleports them all back to Earth.

Materializing outside Avengers Mansion, the heroes are met by Nick Fury, who reveals that the H. Warren Craddock who hounded them was in fact a Skrull, the fourth member of the squad that previously impersonated the Fantastic Four. The alien reverted to its true form in the middle of a speech, Fury reports, and was beaten to death by an angry mob. S.H.I.E.L.D. then located the real Craddock, who has cleared the Avengers of any wrongdoing. The Avengers then realize Goliath is not among them, and they fear he’s been lost in space.

Over the next couple of days, Tony and Kevin O’Brien complete Kevin’s emergency back-up armor. As a nod to his Irish heritage, Kevin paints the suit green and starts training himself to use it. Also, Tony finally delivers his much-delayed speech to the United Nations, though he decides to hold off on formally announcing that Stark Industries is divesting itself from munitions.

Several days later, Tony is called to appear before a Senate subcommittee in Washington, DC, and he invites Marianne Rodgers to accompany him. He’s decided he really likes her, though she seems very high-strung. In fact, when the plane lands in the nation’s capital, Tony is forced to change into Iron Man when part of the airport terminal begins to collapse. Marianne has an emotional breakdown when she discovers that Tony has “disappeared” and runs off. When the crisis has passed, Tony tries to find Marianne, but is unable to locate her before having to head to the Capitol Building. There, he finds that his old college friend Ben Crandall, also an industrialist, has been called to appear before the same subcommittee. The hearing is convened by Senator Ernest McJavit, who accuses both Crandall and Tony of using shoddy materials and substandard workmanship on their government contracts. Tony is shocked and insulted, but the hearing is interrupted when the building begins to shake and the ceiling starts to collapse. In the confusion, Tony slips out and changes into Iron Man. His armor detects the same ultrasonic signal that he noticed at the airport terminal and tracks it back to the saboteurs—a pair of bickering villains called the Slasher and Demetrius. Despite their second-rate super-powers, they manage to give Iron Man a hard time, and during the fight he learns they are working for someone called Mister Kline. Marianne then stumbles upon the scene, apparently causing Demetrius to have some kind of fit. Iron Man knocks out the Slasher with a repulsor-ray blast and rushes to Marianne’s side as she faints. To his surprise, she deliriously calls him “Tony” before slipping into unconsciousness. After the police arrive and take the villains into custody, Iron Man flies Marianne to their hotel. He changes back into Tony Stark, and Marianne eventually recovers. She claims to have had psychic visions suggesting that his life is in danger, but Tony isn’t sure what to make of it.

After a restless night, Tony receives a call from Ben Crandall, who asks if Iron Man can meet him at the Capitol as soon as possible. When Iron Man arrives, Crandall informs him that Senator McJavit holds them responsible for yesterday’s disasters and claims the Slasher and Demetrius are just a couple of patsies. McJavit appears then and has Iron Man taken into custody. The Golden Avenger is determined to cooperate, but when he has a hallucination of Marianne being turned into a monster, he loses control of himself and smashes out of prison. Realizing he is being manipulated, Iron Man is suddenly teleported to a hellish landscape, where he is confronted by a man called Soulfather, who claims to have been granted godlike powers by Mister Kline. Seeing Marianne is being held prisoner, Iron Man attacks Soulfather, but is easily defeated. Iron Man is chained up, but he escapes and battles Soulfather a second time, only to fare worse than he did before, with his armor’s power levels reaching dangerously low levels. Finally, Soulfather transports Iron Man and Marianne to his throne room, where two bulky armored creatures attack, intent on smashing the transparent floor and sending the hapless pair into the jaws of a gigantic serpent below. In desperation, Iron Man channels all remaining power to his repulsor rays, sweeping the chamber and blowing up Soulfather and his minions. Unfortunately, this causes Iron Man’s life-support system to fail, so Tony has a heart attack and collapses. They are rescued by Kevin O’Brien in his green armor, who reveals that the hellish landscape was a fake and their foes were all robots. Stunned by this revelation, Tony lapses into a coma.

When he regains consciousness, Tony finds himself back at his penthouse apartment in Manhattan. Kevin and Marianne are both there to look after him as he recovers. Kevin explains that he got Tony to Avengers Mansion in time to repair his chestplate and save his life, though he had to scuffle with Captain America, who mistook him for a supervillain. Kevin reports that his armored suit worked better than expected under actual combat conditions, though he’s a bit worried the power might go to his head. Dismissing Kevin’s concerns, Tony asks him to find out all he can about Mister Kline. After Kevin has left, though, Tony and Marianne are attacked by the Night Phantom. Despite his ill-health, Tony manages to don his Iron Man armor, and quickly discovers that the Night Phantom is another robot sent by Mister Kline. During the battle, Marianne reveals that she’s already figured out that Tony is Iron Man. Using an emergency power-booster, Iron Man overwhelms his robotic foe and destroys it.

In the aftermath of the battle, Tony checks in with his secretary, Claire Greer. She reports that Jasper Sitwell has finally woken from his coma and has started working with a physical therapist. Tony is glad to hear that Jasper’s prognosis is good. She also informs Tony that Senator McJavit has disappeared and his subcommittee has been disbanded, with all charges against Iron Man dropped. Relieved, Tony takes a shower and, fearing that his death from heart failure will soon come, he resolves to spend his remaining days with Marianne as man and wife. However, he soon receives a telegram informing him that the Stark Industries board of directors intends to oust him as company president tomorrow. Tony suspects that it’s a power-grab orchestrated by Simon Gilbert, the recently elected chairman of the board. Still, due to his fatalism, he finds it difficult to care, and proposes to Marianne. She accepts tearfully, and they spend the next several hours having sex. Finally, Marianne senses that something is seriously wrong at Tony’s factory complex on Long Island and, willing to trust her ESP, he dons his Iron Man armor and goes to check it out. Before leaving, Tony tells Marianne that the last few hours have been the best of his life.

When he arrives at the factory, Iron Man sees that a mob of student anti-war protestors has stormed the complex, and Kevin, wearing his green armor, has apparently fired on them, seriously wounding four of the students. Horrified, Iron Man tries to intervene, but the protestors refuse to listen to him as Kevin slips into the administration building. Unwilling to use force against the students, Iron Man takes to the sky, where he sees the police are on their way. Emboldened, the protestors storm the building, and one of them hits Kevin with a Molotov cocktail. Though it explodes harmlessly against his armor, Kevin is enraged and drives the protestors back with a barrage of repulsor rays. As the first police cars arrive on the scene, Iron Man crashes into the boardroom and confronts Simon Gilbert and the other executives. For some reason, Kevin sides with the board against Tony, and the two armored men get into a fight which soon carries them back outside. Kevin fires on the protestors again, causing them to flee, so Iron Man presses his attack. Kevin soon retreats inside the administration building, leaving the battle unresolved. Since the protestors have dispersed, Iron Man secures the perimeter and settles things with the police riot squad. He then heads back to Manhattan and rejoins Marianne, deciding to wait and see what tomorrow will bring.

The next day, Tony and Marianne hear news reports about last night’s battle and are relieved to learn the four wounded protestors are expected to recover. The papers are calling Kevin “the Guardsman,” a name he apparently came up with himself. Marianne suspects that Kevin is infatuated with her and betrayed Tony out of jealousy. In the evening, Tony gets a call from the factory security office, reporting that hundreds more protestors have descended in response to last night’s violence and the situation is getting out of hand. Tony agrees to send Iron Man at once. However, Marianne insists on going with him, so they drive out to the complex together. There, Tony and Marianne find Kevin, still wearing his armor, smashing up the executive boardroom. Refusing to listen to reason, Kevin heads out to deal with the latest wave of protestors. Simon Gilbert laughs at Tony, telling him he’s washed up. Enraged, Tony punches Gilbert, knocking him down, but Marianne admonishes him for getting violent. She gets an ESP flash that something terrible is about to happen between Kevin and the protestors, so Tony dashes into his private office, changes into Iron Man, and flies out to intervene. To stop Kevin from opening fire on the protestors, Iron Man attacks him and they start brawling. When Kevin rolls a barrel of napalm at Iron Man and ignites it with a laser blast, Tony realizes that his friend has gone completely insane. As Iron Man staggers through the flames, Kevin keeps ranting about how Tony stole Marianne from him and ruined his life. Kevin then activates an experimental flying tank outfitted with a laser cannon. Iron Man is forced to blow up the tank, hoping that Kevin’s armor will protect him from the blast. Unfortunately, Kevin is mortally wounded and dies, professing his love for Marianne. The protestors disperse, and Tony is horrified by what he has done.

In the morning, the police disrupt Kevin’s funeral while trying to bring Iron Man in for questioning. Furious, Iron Man drives them back with repulsor rays, causing Marianne to become distraught. He flies off to the factory and broods about all the weapons he’s built over the years, all the death and destruction he holds himself responsible for. Tony questions whether he should just give up being Iron Man, but decides it still serves a worthwhile purpose. Thus, Iron Man submits to questioning by the police and explains the circumstances leading to Kevin’s death. After all the numerous witnesses have been questioned, Iron Man is cleared of any wrongdoing.

At the next Avengers meeting, the team discusses strategies for finding out what happened to Goliath. Feeling personally responsible since he recruited Goliath to the team back when he was called Hawkeye, Tony returns to Stark Industries to try to devise a technological solution to the problem. Iron Man is immediately called upon to deal with some intruders, but blacks out suddenly. When he comes to, Iron Man finds himself in the weapons lab with the Vision and members of a paramilitary group called the Warhawks. Like Iron Man, the Warhawks have no idea how they came to be there. The Vision insists that they need to rendezvous with the rest of the team at the Midtown Hotel in Manhattan, where the leader of the Warhawks, a man called Mr. Tallon, has somehow incited a mob against a Chinese delegation staying there. Along the way, the Vision tells Iron Man of how they fought each other in the weapons lab because Iron Man was suddenly determined to start World War III by any means necessary. Tony is frustrated to hear that he had once again fallen under some form of mind control. When they arrive on the scene, they find Thor holding the mob at bay, but Iron Man blacks out again. When he comes to, he finds the crowd dispersing and learns that “Mr. Tallon” was really the Greek god of war, Ares, who was using the hypnotic pipes of Olympian satyrs to bring people under his control. Overwhelmed by the Avengers, though, Ares teleported away to safety. Suddenly, Hawkeye emerges from the crowd, dressed in an unfamiliar costume, and reveals that he’s found Hercules suffering from total amnesia. Back at Avengers Mansion, Hawkeye explains how he blew up the Skrull death-ship before it could enter hyperspace and was then teleported back to Earth. However, he materialized in Yugoslavia, where he fell in with a traveling carnival. It was there that he discovered the amnesiac Hercules. Eventually, they made their way back to New York. Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America then try to question Hercules again, but they are interrupted when two Olympian warriors appear, fight off the Avengers, and kidnap Hercules. Hawkeye blames the Vision for allowing them to get away, but Thor says they need to focus on what comes next—the Avengers must storm the very halls of Olympus itself.

A day later, Iron Man heads to Garrett Castle in England to rendezvous with Thor, Ant-Man, Wasp, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, Black Knight, Black Panther, and the Vision. The Hulk arrives as well, though he is suspicious of the others and threatens to leave before Cap convinces him to stay. The Black Knight leads them into the depths of the castle, where he summons up the spirit of his ancestor, Sir Percy of Scandia, the original Black Knight of legend. Sir Percy’s ghost reveals how Ares came into possession of the Ebony Blade and teamed up with the Enchantress to conquer three worlds: Earth, Asgard, and Olympus. Their first move was to transform the gods of Olympus into crystalline statues and banish Hercules to Earth, bereft of his memory. Unexpectedly, the Swordsman swings down from the rafters and claims his Avengers membership, demanding to help stop Ares. Iron Man is not inclined to trust the Swordsman, but Thor accepts him into their ranks. The thunder god then chooses Iron Man, Hulk, Black Knight, and Vision to accompany him to Olympus while the rest remain behind to guard Earth. As soon as they have passed through the dimensional portal created by Thor’s enchanted hammer, the five Avengers are immediately attacked by centaurs, satyrs, and other mythological creatures. Iron Man is quickly knocked out of the fight, and when he recovers, he finds the others have already defeated Ares and rescued Hercules. The Hulk has captured the Enchantress on his own, but Thor decides to leave her to face the justice of Zeus. The Avengers return to Earth, materializing amongst their teammates in London, England. After what he’s just seen, Iron Man knows he can no longer dismiss Thor’s tales of Asgard as mere fantasy.

March 1965 – Due to the Guardsman fiasco, Tony reasserts total control over his company, firing Simon Gilbert and forcing the entire board of directors to resign. He then leaves town to inspect his munitions plants in Bay City, Michigan, with an eye toward converting them to other product lines. The executive shake-up spooks investors, and the company takes a tumble in the stock market. At a cocktail party outside Bay City, Tony has a few more drinks than usual in an attempt to take the edge off. When he nearly picks a fight with a pessimistic shareholder, Marianne drags him out of the party for a moonlit drive. However, Tony speeds recklessly and is pulled over by a cop. Recognizing that Tony is still blaming himself for Kevin’s death, she urges him to put that behind him now. They are interrupted by a call from the local plant security office, as the facility is under attack by Firebrand. Tony immediately changes into Iron Man, flies to the plant, and fights with the high-tech saboteur. During the battle, a ceiling collapses, revealing that Simon Gilbert has set charges to destroy the factory. Iron Man grabs Firebrand and flies him out, barely getting clear in time before a series of massive explosions brings the building down. Seeing that Simon Gilbert, who was trapped inside, has been killed, Firebrand goes berserk and tries to roast Iron Man with his thermal-blasters. Though his armor starts to melt, Iron Man manages to reach Firebrand and knock him out. As he is being taken into custody, Firebrand reveals that Simon Gilbert was his father and swears vengeance on Iron Man.

Returning to his headquarters on Long Island, Tony destroys the armor that was wrecked fighting Firebrand and starts designing a new version. His employees give him a vote of confidence as he vows to turn the company’s fortunes around. However, his executive secretary, Claire Greer, gives her notice as she has recently gotten pregnant and plans to resign when the baby is due. Tony then focuses all his time and attention on diversifying the company’s product line and steering it away from munitions.

April–July 1965 – Rebuilding and refocusing Stark Industries continues to be Tony’s top priority over the next several months as he recruits a new board of directors more in tune with his new vision. He makes only a few routine appearances as Iron Man after completing his new armored suit. He continues to provide various devices to capture and contain the Hulk for the Air Force’s Project Greenskin, but foregoes any other new military contracts. His munitions plants are gradually refitted to produce advanced computers and aerospace technology rather than weapons. Tony and Marianne begin planning for a November wedding, though he becomes increasingly skeptical of her ESP and grows annoyed at her vague prognostications.

August 1965 – Tony is contacted by S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury with an emergency request: an advanced Life Model Decoy android of a green-skinned alien woman named Jarella is needed to counteract a dimensional instability that threatens to cause the sun to go supernova. Tony suspends all other projects and has the amazingly lifelike android finished within eighteen hours. Fury and his right-hand man, “Dum Dum” Dugan, personally deliver the android to General Ross at Hulkbuster Base in New Mexico. Tony learns later that the LMD was destroyed by an assassin sent to kill Jarella, but Bruce Banner, Hank Pym, Reed Richards, and Peter Corbeau together managed to return Jarella to the Microverse in such a way as to allow the sun to return to normal.

September 1965 – While visiting Avengers Mansion, Iron Man meets several of Thor’s friends from Asgard—Sif, Balder the Brave, Fandral, Hogun the Grim, and Hildegarde—as well as a couple of extraterrestrial acquaintances, Tana Nile and Silas Grant. Thor explains how they’ve all been marooned on Earth after questioning Odin’s judgment and will be staying at the mansion for a while. The thunder god suddenly realizes that they haven’t seen their other comrade, Volstagg, since a recent battle. Having heard Thor’s stories about the Warriors Three, Iron Man jokes that Volstagg must still be hiding in a basement somewhere.

October 1965 – After the Hulk is captured by the military’s Hulkbuster unit, he is brought to Stark Industries and placed in a specially-designed confinement chamber. Tony explains its operation to General Ross, assuring him that the Hulk will not be able to escape from it. The general is understandably skeptical.

A couple days later, Iron Man unveils an advanced computer system called Nimrod by hosting a media event where the computer challenges a garrulous Soviet chess champion. Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver, Scarlet Witch, and Vision are also present. However, the chess-master, Comrade Sporadnik, collapses during the tournament and is rushed to the hospital, where Dr. Donald Blake determines that he has been poisoned. The Avengers track down the assassin—a balding middle-aged man—but he escapes by phasing through the floor. Suddenly, the heroes receive a vision that reveals that the assassin is an ordinary accountant named Leonard Tippit, who was recently granted superhuman powers by the omnipotent alien known as the Watcher. Tippit was charged with preventing a future nuclear holocaust by murdering five innocent people whose yet-unborn children would be responsible for the catastrophe. As the images fade, Thor assures his teammates that the Watcher is, in fact, real. Even so, the Avengers are unwilling to stand by while people are murdered. While the others try to intercept Tippit, Iron Man heads back to Stark Industries, where he builds a device to siphon off Tippit’s superhuman energies. The work goes surprisingly quickly, and Iron Man feels almost as though an angel guides his hand. Finally, the Avengers bring in the unconscious Tippit and strap him into the machine, which Iron Man then activates. As Tippit regains consciousness, the Watcher materializes in the room and reveals that it was Tippit, not his victims, who was a threat to the Earth, and the murder scheme was just a ruse to force Tippit to travel the world and exhaust himself. The Avengers are angry at having been manipulated, but Tippit agrees to sacrifice himself to save the world. Before disappearing again, the Watcher assures the Avengers that the five victims will awaken tomorrow with no memory of their ordeal.

The Avengers head immediately to the New York County Courthouse, where the Hulk is being put on trial. The Hulk’s lawyer, Matt Murdock, calls Iron Man to the stand, but most of his testimony is stricken after the prosecutor objects to the Avengers’ presence. The judge agrees that the Avengers’ testimony has no bearing on the case. As such, the team returns to their headquarters. Some hours later, they learn that Mister Fantastic inadvertently enabled the Hulk to escape while trying to change him back into Bruce Banner. Tony is surprised that Reed Richards could be so careless.

The following evening, Iron Man returns to Avengers Mansion for a late-night meeting. The Scarlet Witch opts to take a stroll through Central Park instead, only to be kidnapped by one of the mutant-hunting robots known as Sentinels. When the Avengers fail to stop the abduction, Quicksilver becomes hysterical and quits the team, vowing to rescue his sister singlehandedly. Returning to their headquarters, the Avengers spend the night trying to track down the Sentinels. They are soon contacted by Peter Corbeau, who reports that his new space station, Starcore One, has detected an energy beam emanating from Australia that is destabilizing the sun and may cause solar flares powerful enough to wipe out all life on Earth. The Avengers race to the Australian outback, where they discover the energy beam is being fired from the Sentinels’ secret base. Fighting their way into the underground complex, the Avengers rescue the Scarlet Witch and defeat the Sentinels. Unfortunately, Larry Trask, the son of the man who created the Sentinels, is killed in the battle. The team then seals off the installation and makes its way back to New York.

Upon their return, the Avengers find that Quicksilver has vanished without a trace, prompting the Scarlet Witch to initiate a desperate search. Her first lead takes the Avengers to Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America, where a trio of Chilean scientists has been abducted by strange men with superhuman powers. Iron Man joins the Scarlet Witch, Vision, Hawkeye, Black Panther, Thor, and Sif on the mission. When they arrive, the team discovers a tunnel that leads them into the mysterious Savage Land. While making their way through the prehistoric jungle, they are attacked by the Savage Land Mutates—Amphibius, Barbarus, Brainchild, Equilibrius, Gaza, Lupo, and Lorelei. Iron Man defeats Equilibrius in single combat while his teammates take care of the rest of their foes. Freeing the scientists, the Avengers march the Mutates out of the Savage Land and turn them over to the Chilean authorities to face kidnapping charges.

The next day, back at Avengers Mansion, the Scarlet Witch continues to search for clues to her brother’s disappearance. Fandral offers to help her, to give himself something to do. She soon calls Iron Man, Hawkeye, and the Black Panther into the communications room to show them a news broadcast Jarvis had recorded while they were away. Suddenly, however, the console shorts out, and Iron Man is baffled when he finds the device has been completely rewired. While the others leave to check out the Scarlet Witch’s lead, Iron Man remains behind to put the communications system back together.

In the morning, Tony takes Marianne to tour the Brand Corporation, another large research & development installation on Long Island. Still looking for new directions to take Stark Industries in, Tony is curious about the cutting-edge research into genetics being conducted at Brand. They meet a prickly young researcher named Hank McCoy and his sexy assistant, Linda Donaldson. Marianne insists to Tony that her ESP indicates that Linda is not what she seems, prompting Tony to return after nightfall as Iron Man to investigate. He is immediately attacked by a shaggy, ape-like creature that calls itself the Beast, but Iron Man is able to knock his assailant unconscious. The Brand security team arrives then, but Linda Donaldson shows up and tells them to stand down, certain that Iron Man must have a good reason for being there. The Beast revives and tackles Iron Man from behind. The guards open fire, but the Beast proves to be bulletproof. Inexplicably, the Beast goes into a trance for a few moments, then suddenly leaps through the nearest window, screaming about having killed Iron Man. Confused, Iron Man departs, leaving the Brand personnel to protect their own factory. Impressed with Linda Donaldson, Tony dismisses Marianne’s intuition about her.

Iron Man checks in at Avengers Mansion the following day to see how the search for Quicksilver is progressing. The Falcon turns up to warn the team that a Captain America impostor is on the loose. The real Cap is vacationing in the Bahamas with his girlfriend, Sharon Carter, and the Falcon needs help getting down there to warn him about the impostor. When the Vision reports that Captain America took over monitor duty just ten minutes ago, the team realizes that the impostor must have just discovered Cap’s whereabouts. They provide the Falcon with a Quinjet and he takes off immediately for the Bahamas.

Iron Man is testing his armor’s defensive systems at the Stark Industries proving ground the next morning when the Beast appears, wanting to discuss their recent altercation. A couple of security guards come rushing up and one of them shoots the Beast in the shoulder, but the wound heals instantly. Iron Man rebukes the guards, then shakes the Beast’s hand, calling him a brave man. The Beast appreciates being called a man and they part on friendly terms. Iron Man then fires his trigger-happy employee.

Two days later, Tony is in his office when Marianne rushes in, distraught over a psychic vision of Iron Man dying when a catwalk gives way and he falls into a vat of acid. Tony tries to assure her that it was just a bad dream, but she has another flash about danger at Avengers Mansion. To humor his fiancée, Tony decides to check it out and flies over to the team’s headquarters as Iron Man. Sure enough, he finds the Super-Adaptoid has returned, and they get into a fight that carries them across the street into Central Park. Iron Man manages to overpower his android foe, leaving the Super-Adaptoid buried under a pile of rubble. However, the power-levels in Tony’s armor have been drained to life-threatening levels. He hurries back to Avengers Mansion to recharge, finding Marianne waiting for him on the roof. She panics and runs away, though, convinced by her psychic visions that she will cause his death. Desperate, Iron Man drags himself inside, shedding parts of his armor as he goes, and finally manages to plug his chestplate into a wall socket. When his life-support system is fully charged, Tony gathers up his armor and returns to his factory, stunned and angry at the way Marianne deserted him when his life was in her hands. Over the next few hours, Tony convinces himself that he needs to break off their engagement.

Later, while announcing Stark Industries’ shift in priorities to the media, Tony is attacked by Princess Python and her gigantic snake. She tries to hold Tony for ransom, but he causes his chestplate to emit a powerful electric shock that stuns the serpent. Tony flees the scene, changes into Iron Man, and returns to capture Princess Python. He pursues her into a nearby factory building, where he ends up tossing her pet python into a large vat of acid. Clearly hysterical, the villainess makes a suicide jump off a catwalk, but Iron Man catches her before she falls into the vat. As soon as they’re back on the catwalk, though, Princess Python shoves Iron Man off the edge, hoping he’ll follow her snake into the acid. He saves himself with his boot jets, though they’ve been malfunctioning intermittently. As his unhinged foe is taken away by security guards, Iron Man notes the similarities to Marianne’s prophecy, but becomes more convinced than ever that her ESP is a sham.

That evening, Tony is frustrated when the rocket scheduled to carry his new weather satellite into orbit malfunctions shortly after launch and self-destructs. He returns to his private quarters and is infuriated to find Marianne there. They argue about her earlier behavior and Tony breaks up with her, demanding that she leave her engagement ring with his secretary. Humiliated and furious, Marianne storms out. Just then, Tony gets a call from one of his research teams, begging for Iron Man’s help. Tony puts his armor back on and flies over to their lab. Seeing the distraught Marianne running blindly towards the danger, Iron Man swoops down, snatches her up, and deposits her on a catwalk in a nearby chemical-storage warehouse. Marianne babbles about her psychic visions, but Iron Man ignores her and flies away. Smashing into the research lab, the Golden Avenger discovers a scary-looking robot with a huge battle axe that calls itself the Cyborg-Sinister. As they fight, they crash into the warehouse where Marianne is, and she screams to Iron Man that he should flee for his life. Annoyed, Iron Man blasts the Cyborg-Sinister with his repulsor rays, but the recoil causes him to fall off the catwalk toward a large vat of acid. Using his boot jets to avoid death again, Iron Man yells at Marianne to get out of there and never come back. As she runs off in tears, Iron Man tips the vat over, spilling the acid onto the Cyborg-Sinister. The creature is destroyed, so Iron Man orders the clean-up crew to seal its remains in an airtight container and put it in storage. Tony is left with no clue as to where the Cyborg-Sinister came from or why it attacked him.

Soon after, Tony’s executive secretary, Claire Greer, leaves the company to go have her baby. One of the girls in the secretarial pool is promoted to replace her. Upset about his breakup with Marianne, Tony retreats into his private lab for several days and tinkers with his Iron Man armor, upgrading its offensive and defensive capabilities. He designs a solar-powered recharging system to prevent any more brushes with death like he just experienced.

A couple weeks later, on Halloween, Iron Man joins Hawkeye, Scarlet Witch, and Black Panther in searching Manhattan’s East Village for a man who reportedly vanished into thin air. The four Avengers soon fall into a trap set by the Space Phantom and his new partner-in-crime, the Grim Reaper. The Grim Reaper considers the Vision to be his “brother” (since the synthezoid’s mind is based on the brain patterns of his actual brother, the late Simon Williams) and is confident the Vision will soon join him against the Avengers. Iron Man struggles to free himself from the Space Phantom’s anti-gravity field, but to no avail.

November 1965 – Some hours later, Iron Man is relieved when Captain America and the Vision come to the rescue. The Avengers then storm through the underground complex and fight with a horde of HYDRA agents under the Space Phantom’s command. Unfortunately, the Space Phantom’s alien technology is able to subdue the Avengers, and they soon find themselves trapped once again in the anti-gravity field. The villains leave to hunt down the Scarlet Witch, who has escaped. The Vision explains that the Grim Reaper had offered to use the Space Phantom’s machines to transfer the Vision’s mind into Captain America’s body, in exchange for help destroying the Avengers. The synthezoid decided to play along until he could devise a plan to defeat the villains. Soon, the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper return, having captured the Scarlet Witch, Rick Jones, and Edwin Jarvis. The Space Phantom decides to assume Rick’s form while he kills the heroes, but is unexpectedly thrown back into Limbo due to Rick’s shared existence with Captain Marvel. Materializing in Rick’s place, the Kree-born superhero frees the Avengers, and they make short work of the HYDRA goons. The Grim Reaper surrenders, and he and his henchmen are all turned over to the authorities. When the team returns to Avengers Mansion, Iron Man is surprised to learn that the Vision and the Scarlet Witch have fallen in love.

When Ant-Man goes missing for several days under mysterious circumstances, Iron Man phones the Wasp to find out what’s going on. However, she puts him off, not wanting to talk about it. Tony then turns his attention to the second attempt at launching his new weather satellite into orbit. This time, the mission is a success, which gives Tony hope that he will be able to pull Stark Industries out of its current slump and make it profitable again. He is stunned, though, when the newspapers report that Ant-Man and the Wasp are believed to have perished when their home in Southampton, New York, burned down. Iron Man meets Bill Foster at the site of the fire and scans for the Pyms’ insect-sized bodies. Finding nothing, Iron Man assumes their remains were consumed by the flames. Foster insists that they might still be alive somewhere, but Iron Man doesn’t want to give him false hope. However, Ant-Man soon turns up alive, fighting with a supervillain called Doctor Nemesis in the lower levels of Avengers Mansion. When the villain is defeated, Ant-Man leads Iron Man, Captain America, Black Panther, and Vision to rescue the Wasp from a secret A.I.M. installation on Long Island. The Avengers then invite the Pyms to return to active duty, but they decline, saying they prefer their private lives.

Tony takes a trip out to Los Angeles, California, where he checks in with his business interests on the west coast. He also spends a few days golfing, sailing, scuba-diving, and dating numerous women. He convinces himself that his engagement to Marianne only tied him down, and now it’s time to move forward again. At a beach party, Tony spots a wildfire starting up in the Santa Monica Mountains and decides he’d better lend a hand as Iron Man. This leads him into conflict with a man calling himself Raga, Son of Fire, who can generate intense heat from his body, enough to turn the ground molten. Raga is part of some kind of hippie cult led by a mysterious figure called the Black Lama, who uses his mystical powers against Iron Man. The world seems to melt away as Raga grows to giant-size, claiming that their battle will take place on a “mystic plane.” Nevertheless, Iron Man presses his attack and overcomes his foe. As things return to normal, the Black Lama announces that Raga has lost the fight and teleports away. Growing fearful, Raga loses control of his powers and causes an avalanche that carries him into the Pacific Ocean, where he drowns. After making sure the forest fire has been extinguished, Iron Man returns to the beach party and changes back into Tony Stark.

December 1965 – At Avengers Mansion, Iron Man chats with the Scarlet Witch, whose search for her missing brother continues. They also discuss her burgeoning romance with the Vision, and Iron Man worries that a relationship between a mutant and a synthezoid won’t go over very well with the general public. Later in the day, Hawkeye disappears from the mansion. After two days, an oddly-worded letter arrives in the mail informing the team that Hawkeye has accepted a business opportunity with a notorious corporate tycoon known as Champion. Knowing Hawkeye to be hot-headed and impulsive, Iron Man doesn’t think much of it.

Tony travels to Seattle, Washington, to visit his facilities there, which have been hit hardest by the company’s change in priorities. Seeing his employees need a morale boost, he flies to the plant as Iron Man. However, he suddenly loses control of his armor and finds himself flying out over the Pacific Ocean. When the Sub-Mariner appears, Iron Man is forced to attack him. As they fight, Iron Man tries to convince Namor that he’s not in control of himself, but Namor doesn’t believe him. The battle quickly moves from the sky to beneath the waves, where Iron Man is at a disadvantage. Spotting a submarine lurking nearby, Iron Man assumes whoever is controlling his armor must be inside. An errant repulsor-ray blast strikes the submarine and damages it, freeing Iron Man from the unseen villain’s control. He beats a hasty retreat, leaving the Sub-Mariner far behind. Tony then spends the next week hanging out with his employees in Seattle.

Returning to New York, Iron Man attends the Avengers’ Fourth Annual Christmas Charity Benefit. A couple days later, the Scarlet Witch convinces her teammates that Hawkeye’s letter is a forgery and he may be in trouble. Iron Man, Thor, Vision, and Black Panther join her in traveling to California, where they find Hawkeye held prisoner by Champion in the Mojave Desert. The Avengers overcome Champion and his horde of masked henchmen and foil their plot to detonate a string of bombs along the San Andreas Fault. Hawkeye refuses to rejoin the team, though, so the Avengers leave him in California and fly back to New York.


Notes:

January 1965 – Tony Stark’s adventures continue in Iron Man #39 and following. While under the influence of Shara-Lee and the White Dragon, Tony creates the weaponized prosthetic hand that Lionel Dibbs is seen using in Amazing Adventures #8. At this point, I doubt Tony would have agreed to do it otherwise, so it makes for a convenient explanation. Iron Man is still under his foes’ mental domination when he appears in Avengers #88, though his memories of those events are erased by Psyklop in any case. Presumably, Reed Richards informed Tony of the failure of their joint project to cure the Hulk soon afterwards. When he has recovered from his brainwashing ordeal, Iron Man joins with the Avengers to fight the Skrulls in Avengers #93. For more on President Morris Richardson, see OMU: POTUS – Part Three.

February 1965 – The Avengers are drawn into the Kree-Skrull War across Avengers #94–97, during which Iron Man meets the Inhumans and travels into outer space for the first time. The Mister Kline storyline kind of fizzles out here, but will be resolved in Daredevil #84. Tony never learns the truth about Mister Kline and his mysterious master, which is probably for the best. The Avengers then foil Ares’ scheme of interdimensional conquest in Avengers #98–100.

March 1965 – Towards the end of the month, Iron Man finds himself dealing with the end of the world—along with everyone else on the disintegrating planet—during Thor #185–188, but luckily Odin erases those events from the timestream, so they never happened.

August 1965 – Tony Stark builds the Jarella LMD behind the scenes in Hulk #148.

September 1965 – Iron Man meets Thor’s entourage in Thor #204.

October 1965 – Tony oversees the confinement of the captured Hulk in the first part of Hulk #153. Iron Man then helps deal with the threat of Leonard Tippit in Avengers #101. Later that same day, the Avengers appear at the Hulk’s trial, as depicted in the latter half of Hulk #153. This is followed immediately by Avengers #102–105. Iron Man makes a cameo appearance during the “negative time” effect in Marvel Team-Up #7. It is Spider-Man who rewires the Avengers’ communications console, which causes it to short out when time resumes its normal flow. Iron Man then meets the newly mutated Beast in Amazing Adventures #12 and is hanging out at Avengers Mansion when the Falcon shows up in Captain America #154. The Beast comes to find Iron Man at Stark Industries in Amazing Adventures #14. Unknown to Iron Man, the “Cyborg-Sinister” that he battles in Iron Man #51 is really the Super-Adaptoid, which has been retrofitted by a diabolical mastermind from the Microverse. Following his bad breakup with Marianne, Iron Man is captured along with his fellow Avengers by the Space Phantom and the Grim Reaper, as seen in Avengers #106–107.

November 1965 – The Space Phantom / Grim Reaper story concludes in Avengers #108. Iron Man then appears in Marvel Feature #9–10 for the conclusion of Ant-Man’s brief revival series.

December 1965 – Iron Man helps the Avengers rescue Hawkeye from the megalomaniac Champion in Avengers #109. The team’s annual Christmas charity benefit occurs behind the scenes, as usual. This brings us up to Iron Man #54, in which the Golden Avenger is forced to battle the Prince of Atlantis by Moondragon (who for some reason is calling herself “Madame MacEvil”), though Tony remains unaware of this fact.


Jump Back: Iron Man – Year Three

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