Welcome back to Super Reads! Today, we're tackling Invincible Iron Man #5.
Maybe "welcome back" was assuming too much. If you are new, be aware:
There are SPOILERS ahead.
Let's take a look at our players and the plot.
In Chicago, Illinois, Mary Jane Watson opened up a club called "Jackpot."
She did this because the only thing you know about Mary Jane is that she's hot, that she made a deal with the (Marvel) devil to make her marriage never happen, and she likes to say lines like "face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot."
So if it wasn't "Jackpot," it would have been "Tigers." And that would have been a lot sweeter club. After all, if you enter a club called Jackpot, you would probably expect some gambling.
Why would she go all the way to Chicago to operate a night club? It's because she REALLY wants one and her efforts to run one in New York City ended in destruction. Because of all the super-villains. Chicago is known for it's organized crime and murder but, in the Marvel Universe, it's got a lot less super-crime.
Now, go read All-New X-Men to watch as the Ghosts of Cyclops terrorize the Chicago area.
Of course, on opening night, MJ's new dance club is the setting for Madame Masque's latest magical temper tantrum. She kills one of her former informants as he's partying within.
You may know Whitney Frost (Madame Masque) as that hand-to-hand combat and marksmanship expert who wears a mask and gets into fights with Iron Man. That's her usual MO. However, she spent a lot of time as a member of the Hood's Syndicate, a criminal organization that ended up fighting the New Avengers. A lot.
Like, all the time.
Frost and the Hood had a relationship. He even fixed up her damaged face when he got his hands on some Infinity Gems.
The Hood is an interesting connection because his powers were derived from a magical cloak and boots. The magic came from a mysterious source that was eventually revealed to be... the demon lord, Dormammu. Eventually, Dormammu ended up using the Hood's body as a puppet.
Which is called "demonic possession."
When troubled started at Mary Jane's new establishment, Iron Man and his new best friend, Victor Von Doom, were there to save the day!
Yep. Doctor Doom.
If you've read through Secret Wars, you know that it ended with Victor's face being restored. In earlier issues of Invincible Iron Man, we've learned that it's not just Doom's face that has changed. His entire outlook on life has switched from "Super Evil" to "Maybe Good?"
This is a good thing because Tony Stark is a smart guy but is absolutely terrible with magic. He sees it as science he doesn't understand and that means he's out of his element when dealing with Madame Masque's new arsenal.
So Doctor Doom is helping him out. The whole reason that Iron Man and Doom appeared so soon after Whitney started trouble is because Doom gave Tony the 411 on her whereabouts. It's too bad they didn't get here before the club started getting destroyed but these things happen.
Invincible Iron Man #5
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: Tony and Doom trash Mary Jane Watson's Chicago night club while exorcising a demon from Madame Masque. Stark offers MJ a job.
• Iron Man and Doctor Doom face off against a magically super-powered Madame Masque.
• When Stark is about to get murdered, Mary Jane Watson hits Madame Masque in the face with a mic stand.
• Tony traps Masque in his suit of armor so that Doom can begin exorcising the demon that is possessing her.
• When the exorcism is over, the night club is even more destroyed and Tony Stark is knocked unconscious.
• When Stark wakes up, Doom is gone.
• Doctor Strange shows up and takes Madame Masque away to help heal her up before turning her over to SHIELD.
• Three days later, Tony offers Mary Jane a job, managing his personal life and brand.
It's a hell of an opening night for Jackpot, Mary Jane's latest attempt at owning a night club. The place hasn't even been open for an hour and it's already host to it's first (and last!) super-villain/ super-hero throwdown. And all this happened RIGHT after MJ made a speech to the crowd about how she opened this club in Chicago specifically to avoid super-criminals.
Anyway, it's a mystically powered Madame Masque versus Iron Man and Doctor Doom. Before things get off the chain, Tony tells all the innocent bystanders to stop bystanding and get clear of the super awesome fight that's about to happen. It's not worth filming and posting to YouTube. We don't see any innocents in the background for the duration of the battle so I take it most people listen... except the very upset Mary Jane Watson who is still moping up on the stage.
For an opening move, Shellhead traps Whitney Frost in a bubble of zero-point energy (which should keep all her crackling energy at bay) while Doctor Doom projects the best magical forcefield he can. It helps for almost a whole page before Victor is overcome by whatever magical energies are powering Madame Masque.
With the magical shield down, Iron Man is completely vulnerable. As Frost rants about murdering Stark, Tony desperately tries to keep his energy bubble up. The first sign that this is a lost cause is when his personal assistant AI, Friday, goes from helpful status updates to talking complete gibberish.
The zero-point energy bubble shatters right after that. the explosion of energy causes Doctor Doom's body to fly across the room and smash into a wall. Even Mary Jane is flipped upside down and she definitely didn't have ringside seats.
Just moments ago, Iron Man was so sure he was going to win this thing without trying that he was positively monologuing. Now, it's the Golden Avenger who finds himself on the ropes.
Well, at least he's done talking about how awesome he is. Instead, he tries to talk Madame Masque down even though she's still ranting about killing him. Like, Whitney's getting into DETAILS, now.
Tony tells Masque that there's no way her body can handle this kind of energy. She needs to stop what she's doing because she's about to ruin the image and the style that she's used to. Madame Masque drops Iron Man to the ground and gets ready to tear off his smug little faceplate.
Which is when Mary Jane intervenes, hitting Whitney Frost in the face with the mic stand. This knocks Madame Masque off of Tony but also sends her face mask flying. It also puts her life in immediate danger because MJ just got Frost's full and undivided attention.
On the plus side, this means she's no longer exerting any of her considerable energies keeping Doctor Doom catatonic or disrupting the Iron Man systems. Doom gets back on his feet and Friday is back online. As Victor re-engages Madame Masque, Tony pulls Mary Jane out of harm's way. With magnets!
Iron Man thanks MJ for the save. MJ tells him that he just ruined her dance club. It's a great meeting.
Now, you're probably wondering if Tony RECOGNIZED Mary Jane. When she was married to Peter Parker, MJ took up residence in Stark Tower. This was, like, four Stark Towers ago. There was even a rumor going around that Mary Jane was shacking up with Tony. However, thanks to a little Spider-Event called "One More Day," all of this history is called into question.
Sure, most of Spider-Man's history happens just like it happened. It's just that instead of being husband and wife, the two were boyfriend and girlfriend. So MJ probably lived in the Tower and everything. EXCEPT you also have to account for Peter's secret identity going from "publicly known" to "only known by a few close friends." What all of this means is that Tony thinks Mary Jane looks FAMILIAR but can't remember why. Friday tells him her name and that she's a supermodel. And that's that.
Let's get back to our crazy magic fight. Remember when I told you Madame Masque lost her mask? She looks like this now.
That is called "symptoms of demonic possession."
Doom has been knocked down again so it's up to Iron Man to pull a win out of his armored suit. He does this by... taking off his armor and putting it on Whitney Frost. It comes apart in particles and reforms around the possessed villain. If you're wondering, Tony still has full control over the suit.
That's going to be tested right now. Tony lays her down on the ground and Victor begins preparing things for a classic demon exorcism. Tony still isn't sure he trusts Doctor Doom but he's got no real options, here. Doom wants him to keep the armor pinned down no matter what so that's what Stark is going to do his best to do.
Once the faceplate is removed, the exorcism gets going. It's full of purple magic goodness.
Tony has Friday place another call to Doctor Strange as well as warning the locals. When Masque's form proves difficult to keep down, Doom suggests using repulsor blasts. Stark has his armor put it's hands up and then lights up the repulsors. The body is successfully pinned.
In time, Doctor Doom is able to properly exorcise the demon in Madame Masque's body. This achievement is marked by a massive purple explosion. It shoots right through the top of Mary Jane's club. Poor MJ watches the whole thing from outside.
Tony is knocked out by the mystical explosion. When he come to, Doctor Doom is nowhere to be seen. Friday claims that he's not on her scanners but that means NOTHING. Doom has already proven that he can easily evade when he wants to.
Madame Masque is still wrapped up in Tony's Iron Man armor. He scans are also coming back normal... but maybe this is something that should be checked over by an expert.
Enter: Doctor Strange.
As Stephen Strange checks on Madame Masque's condition, Tony fills him in on Doom's involvement. When things appear satisfactory, Tony retrieves his armor and puts Whitney's mask back on her. She hates it when that thing comes off.
Doctor Strange tells Stark that he'll heal Madame Masque up "metaphysically" and then let SHIELD do the rest. Tony notes that there seems to be a lot of magic-related stuff happening lately and Stephen agrees. There's a troubling amount.
As Strange gets ready to leave with Whitney Frost, Tony thanks him for showing up.
Doctor Strange: "Of course. I had to. We're awesome facial hair bros."
Tony Stark: "Wow. All of this was totally worth it just for that."
Three days later, Mary Jane Watson is sulking in Chicago's Grant Park. She's got a good reason so I'm not judging her sulk. It's not every day that you lose a dance club and in her life, she's lost TWO to super-villain attacks. She's probably not got a future in a third night club.
In walks Tony Stark. MJ tells him to go away because she can't stand getting "hit on at her lowest point." Stark assures her that he isn't here to pick her up. After all, he's got a girlfriend he's stalking and everything. He's also happy that THIS is her lowest point because "it's not the-end-of-the-world low."
That was LAST week.
Tony tells her that her club is already being rebuilt (by Damage Control, no less) but since her dance club days are probably behind her, he's wondering if she'd like a job.
He needs someone to manage his personal life. His AI, Friday, can handle the business and tech stuff but he's got philanthropic obligations as well as, y'know, just being famous... that stuff needs a good manager. MJ's been in that life before and after having a hand in destroying Jackpot, Tony feels bad. She also has unspecified super-hero shenanigans in her past.
After telling her one more time that he isn't hitting on her, Tony armors up and flies off. The job offer is in her email. If she likes the job, great, if not, she can leave any time.
Mary Jane's captions have been narrating randomly throughout this whole story and they come in at the end to give us her final thoughts... which are pretty much the same as they've been all issue.
"Super heroes. Again. I remain so completely and entirely screwed."