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Iron Man #182: Deliverance - Here's our review of one of our favorite Iron Man stories.

Image by Marvel Comics

I’ll admit that despite my somewhat young age (I’m 25 years old), I have always been more connected to what classic comic books have to offer and one of the main reasons is that they tended to offer a lot more entertainment and story in an issue. Nowadays, a standard comic book issue can cost about $5 and you essentially get what could amount to two or three scenes in a movie–there are notable exceptions, of course, and they are praised, but this is one of the many reasons that the industry has faltered in recent years.

Back in like the 80's you could get a marvelous (pun intended) issue for a lot less money with a complete story, often done in masterful fashion and providing a larger insight into the protagonist’s mind and character, which is exactly what Deliverance, issue #182 the original Iron Man series, does here with Tony Stark: taking a look at him at his lowest point and following his journey to get back on his feet.

What is Deliverance?

Image by Marvel Comics

Written by Denny O’Neill, Deliverance deals with Tony Stark at the worst point of his drinking problems, he's homeless after losing Stark Enterprises and is walking alone in the winter, looking for his pregnant friend Gretl. During this period, Tony wonders and reflects about his life, trading his coat for another bottle and finding Gritl, only to end up losing her again when she goes into labor. Tony finds himself falling asleep holding the baby in his arms.

Meanwhile, Rhodey, who was Iron Man at the time, comes back to Earth with the rest of the superheroes that were part of the Secret Wars event and tries to learn how to handle the modifications that his armor went through in Battleworld. He finds out that Tony is hospitalized and goes to visit him, with the latter saying that he has to get back on his feet and change for the better.

The issue ends with Tony leaving the hospital after a few weeks there with willingness to get his life back in place after years of struggle.

How was it?

Image by Marvel Comics

As you can see, for an issue that is only 22 pages long, there is a lot of story there and you can have minor knowledge of Iron Man and even the events going on at the time and still enjoy it while wanting to know more of what happened before and what is going to happen next. Stan Lee (and this was mastered by the editor in chief of this era of Marvel Comics, Jim Shooter) once said that every issue can be a reader’s first, so you have to put everything you've got there and provide something gripping and interesting to get their attention–that was true back then and it’s even truer now, where people perhaps have a lesser inclination to read.

O’Neill takes us to the darkest and most melancholic depths of Tony Stark’s soul and shows us a broken man, who has lost every single thing that made him who he was and who is willing to die, alone on the snow. It’s Gretl’s death and the birth of new life that shows him that there is still hope; O’Neill starts by showing the darkness and the fear of living after failing, only to contrast it later on with the innocence and beauty of a baby that is only beginning his or her existence.

Tony Stark’s alcoholism has been the central theme of many of his best stories, with Demon in a Bottle by David Michelinie and Bob Layton being prime examples, but I think O’Neill, with just one issue, succeeds in truly portraying a broken man in Stark and one who is slowly but surely going to come back–his desire to change at the end of the issue doesn’t feel forced. We found out that the story isn't trying to simplify tell a store about the immense struggle of alcohol addiction, but rather the exhausted and primal reaction of someone that is tired of being at rock bottom and wants change.

Perhaps you don’t suffer with alcoholism or any other type of addiction, but Deliverance can work as a reference for any person that feels defeated and a failure, finding a reason to carry on and do better through the loss of a special someone and trying to make him or her proud. It’s, at least to me, this is a very precious moment in Tony Stark’s character and one that truly gets to show you the character in a different light.

Add to all of this that final conversation with his good friend Rhodey, where he admits complete defeat aloud and decides to change for the better, and you have a fantastic story in a very short period of time.

What about the art?

Image by Marvel Comics

I have to put a large emphasis on Luke McDonnell’s art on this issue: it looks stunning, done with a degree of class and preciseness that you can’t help but feel in awe of. Especially in the panels where Tony is walking on the snow; it feels dynamic, artistic and done with a lot care, which enhances O’Neill’s story.

I have pointed out how older comics had a lot more story going on and this is a fundamental example of that; every single panel of this issue matters and pushes the plot forward while still putting an emphasis on Tony and Rhodey’s character, which is something that most creative teams in modern Marvel and DC don’t seem capable of doing.

If I had to say one final thing, I would point out how awesome Tony looks with the long hair and beard–that look should definitely come back.

What it represents?

Image by Marvel Comics

This issue of Iron Man is a reminder of how much you can do in comics if you put in the effort and care, thus making a short story in just 22 pages: here we get to read about Tony being at a low point in his life, his struggles with alcohol, losing a friend through labor, Rhodey’s comeback from Battleworld, his difficulties with his new armor, his conversation with Tony and the latter’s slow return to clarity–all of this in just one issue and this wasn’t something remarkable at the time, but actually quite common and it’s an art that has been sadly forgotten over the course of time.

There is a running theme and perspective that certain values and artistic styles have become obsolete just because they are old and recent approaches are inherently better just because they are newer, which is not the case. Values and artistic styles are not technology that gets replaced by a newer and more advanced machine; they are timeless and if they can make something or someone better, why not use them and practice them?

Deliverance shows us how we can make beautiful, insightful and entertaining comics and do so in just one issue, proving the (also old) proverb that sometimes less is more, if done right.

How do you like Iron Man's Deliverance? Feel free to comment below, and share this post with friends on social media. 


Kevin Tanza

Kevin Tanza is a Venezuelan writer who fell in love with stories, music and soccer/football when he was a child and since then, he hasn’t stopped writing about them. He has been published in multiple websites in both Spanish and English. You'll find his work at MusikHolics, Good Comis to Read, Gemr, The Busby Babe, Chiesa di Totti, La Soledad del Nueve, Sail Away, Colgados por el Fútbol, Genre, United’s Red Rain, Mariskal Rock, Sugati Fashion, Indie Artists Go and Music Existence. He has also published a series of short stories. Feel free to use the links provided below to follow Kevin on social media. For business inquiries, please contact him via email.

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