Super Readers, you're just in time for Invincible Iron Man #3. Good job.
Hate spoilers? Too bad, because:
There are SPOILERS ahead.
And they start right about now.
Iron Man and Doctor Doom have a complicated history where they try to kill each other. A lot. Usually involving time travel.
While Tony Stark isn't Reed Richards, he's still found himself in conflict with Victor Von Doom on numerous occasions. Granted, so has the rest of the Marvel Universe but when Doom and Stark get together, it's a particularly memorable time.
This time is no different. Except... it's totally different.
Doctor Doom has his face back and instead of trying to KILL Tony Stark, he's actually trying to WORK with Tony. To that end, he's given Iron Man the item that Madame Masque was trying to steal: A Wand of Watoomb.
Just about as weird as Doom playing the good guy is Madame Masque trying to steal items of mystic power. Whitney Frost is usually more of the "shooting guns and making clones" type.
Tony tracked her down to a hotel in Montreal where she had just jumped in the shower after killing some people.
Stark had the upper hand in the eventual fight because he was wearing his armor in stealth mode which made it look JUST like he was in plain clothes. When Masque tried punching him to death, she ended up breaking her hand.
And that's when Tony got overconfident. Thinking the fight was over, Iron Man walked up and asked Whitney to surrender.
Instead of doing THAT, Madame Masque hit Stark with a magical attack.
But what about Doctor Amara Perera?
She's the loverly Sri Lankan Biophysicist that Tony met at a conference in Dubai. They went on a date in the first issue. It was kinda cool and kinda awkward.
Amara is insanely smart and for the first time in a LONG time, Tony was actually feeling stupid in comparison. To compensate, he decided to flaunt his money and Avengers connections. After he finally admitted to how out of his league she was, things they actually started connecting.
By... talking about how she had invented a cure for mutants hidden in her brain. That got the romance flowing.
Unfortunately for Tony, Doctor Perera wasn't willing to kiss on the first date because Stark has a rep for being a player.
Invincible Iron Man #3
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Color Artist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer & Production: Clayton Cowles (from Virtual Calligraphy)
Assistant Editor: Alanna Smith
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Katie Kubert
In this issue: Iron Man's fight with Madame Masque continues and Tony Stark has an awesome meeting with Doctor Strange.
• Madame Masque and Iron Man continue their brawl in Montreal with Tony's armor blowing up and whisking him off to safety before most of it comes back together to keep the fight going strong.
• Later on at MIT, Doctor Amara Perera finds that Tony Stark has broken into her office while she wasn't looking.
• He tells her about his fight with Madame Masque and how this latest adventure is rocking him to his core.
• Or something.
• After an inspiring speech, Amara is so moved that she ends up kissing Tony right before he gets a call from Doctor Strange.
• Tony kisses Perera one more time before taking off to visit Doctor Strange.
• Tony and Strange high five.
• OH... they also talk about the situation and locate Madame Masque.
• Iron Man hits California in Stealth Mode, visiting Madame Masque's already empty quarters.
• Tony plays a tape where Masque says a lot of crazy but warns him to stay out of her way and that there are more dangerous people chasing her that will not kill him.
• Those dangerous people arrive.
• They have lightsabers.
You see that cover right there? It's pretty slick and is vaguely basted on the cover for Invincible Iron Man #118. That cover looked exactly like this:
OK, on with the issue. We left off in Montreal, where Madame Masque was using her newfound magical powers to kill Iron Man. you can tell it's magic because it's purple. Tony's AI assistant, Friday, activates the "Emergency Protocols" over Tony's protests. He wants his suit to scan Whitney Frost's powers so he can counter them. But that's not going to happen right now.
"Emergency Protocols" means detonating the Iron Man armor and getting Tony to safety. It's an automatic response for any time that Tony is in mortal danger. And he WAS in mortal danger.
So while bits and pieces of his armor get him to a safe location, the rest of his suit reassembles to continue the fight with Madame Masque. Because it can DO that now.
We'll continue with this fight later but for now, let's head into the near future at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. This is where Doctor Amara Perera works. Amara enters her secret PIN to get into her office to find Tony Stark inside.
Yeah. Tony worked his way inside Doctor Perera's office and is just hanging out there, waiting for her. That is... absolutely stalkerish. And they've only been on one date!
At least he didn't interrupt her while she was working. That's a line he claims he'll never cross.
So what's he doing here? Well, it seems that his fight with Madame Masque really unnerved him. He's had her on his mind all day and, post battle, he decided he needed to see her to tell her that he totally freak out and race off because she wouldn't kiss him. She tells him she never thought he did.
Anyway, Mr. Stark needed someone to talk to but for a variety of reasons, he doesn't really HAVE a lot of people to share his thoughts with. So this is him sharing. With the girl he just had a date with the other day. After breaking into her office.
Sounds like win.
Tony tells her about his fight with Madame Masque. Rather, he talks about how he remotely controlled his suit to fight Masque while he remained a safe distance away. What's great about the new suit is that it's made to come apart. It's little bits of suit that can combine in any way you Tony Stark can imagine.
Also: coming apart might not be an benefit if Tony is actually IN the suit but since he's piloting it remotely, it's working out well for him.
Except, while he's putting his suit back together, Madame Masque uses her new magical mojo to teleport away. This probably explains how she's been able to trot all over the globe over the course of the first two issues.
With the battle over, Tony recalls his Iron Man armor and tells Friday to fill in the police on what happened. He muses about having to buy the hotel but he's not REALLY in a place to afford it without "selling an armor."
He expresses his frustration over this ENTIRE experience, all the way from Madame Masque rocking magic to Doctor Doom trying to team up with him. It's all rattled him something fierce. Amara still isn't convinced that he's here to talk about his super-hero problems and she's partly right. He's also here because he's a creepy stalker. But at least he's realized that, how he is right now, Doctor Perera is too good for him.
So he says "I can't shake the idea that becoming the man that would actually deserve you... would be a very good goal in life at this stage of the game."
It's a little chauvinistic ("DESERVE you?") but the IDEA is admirable. And it's enough to get Amara Perera to kiss him.
Tony's AI personal assistant, Friday, is just here to ruin the mood. She tells Tony that she finally got a hold of Doctor Strange. Friday's been trying to reach Strange since Iron Man's encounter with Doom last issue. Tony's frustrated but this is a call he has to take.
And it's the moment where Amara realizes that Tony DIDN'T run out on their date because she wouldn't kiss him because they JUST kissed and he's gotta run again. He takes the call and agrees to meet with Doctor Strange in ten minutes. When Doctor Perera reminds him that he's at MIT, Stark adjust his ETA to nineteen minutes.
Before he leaves, he apologizes to Amara for not calling first but Perera is happy he made an unexpected visit. They kiss again, stare deep into each other's eyes... and then Tony gets all serious and says "Hail Hydra."
Amara looks confused but you can tell that Tony is thinking this is TOO perfect so it's gotta be some evil trap. She passed the first test!
Iron Man bursts into the air. Doctor Amara Perera watches him leave but the look on her face isn't one of happiness. She looks sad. Maybe concerned.
At Doctor Strange's Sanctum Sanctorum, Tony fills Stephen in on his latest adventures. They discuss how strange Doom is acting. Tony shows Doctor Strange his Wand of Watoomb (not a metaphor). They both wonder why they didn't notice items of this nature dropping into their reality (Tony's Wand is from an alternate universe-- still not a metaphor).
Doctor Strange uses his magical abilities to locate Madame Masque. Unlike the purple magic used by Doom and Masque, Strange's magic glows orange. That's the color of good! With the villain found, Tony armors up to take her down. But first, an awesome bit of comics happens. It looks like this:
Iron Man arrives at Marina Del Rey, California in his armor's stealth configuration. This isn't the mode that makes the armor look like he's not wearing it. This is the more traditional stealth look. Black armor, undetectable to radar and probably other forms of detection.
When he arrives where Madame Masque is supposed to be, she's already gone. There's traces of magical energy in the air as well as a tape recorder and a note that simply says "PLAY ME."
After thinking it over and making sure that the tape recorder isn't a bomb, our intrepid hero presses "play."
What he gets is a whole lot of crazy from Whitney Frost. She's giving him one last chance to leave her alone. If he pursues her any further, she's going to murderize him with 100% more killing. Masque also has words to say about his obsessive nature and how he CAN'T leave her alone. He's just like her!
She also talks about how she KNEW he was coming and planned this "meeting." Finally, she tells him that he's not the only one looking for her. On cue, the room fills with heavily shadowed ninja-type characters with lightsabers. Tony notices them at the same time Friday's sensors detect them.
Iron Man switches from stealth mode to the more traditional Iron Man configuration as Madame Masque explains that the people pursuing her will end up killing him FOR her. Because that's apparently what they do.