How do you wrap up a dangling plot threat and talk about self esteem issues in a comic book from 1970? You make the story about a Minotaur and contrast that character’s issues with that of your hero’s current love interest. And that is exactly what we get in Iron Man number 24. If you remember, the Midas story arc from issues 17-19 ended with Whitney Frost, AKA Madam Masque, ending up adrift in the ocean where it could have been assumed she was dead.
She wakes up only to be knocked out again by the terrible Minotaur, whose name is Miklos. More on him later.
Meanwhile, a separate SHIELD investigation finds that Madam Masque’s mask has been sold to an international fence who gets busted. The mask is then examined and returned to our faithful SHIELD agent Jasper Sitwell since it relates to his investigation of the Maggia.
And that’s the set-up, getting all of our characters on paths that are bound to intersect.
To get to the core of the issue we get a bit of back story about how Miklos became a Minotaur…
…and we see that Miklos has some serious self-esteem issues.
Oh, and that Miklos’s crazy scientist father pawns all of the things that Miklos steals from the villagers to fund his research, and out of greed has decided to create an army of Minotaurs to steal from everyone. Meanwhile both Iron Man and Jasper are hot on the trail of Madam Masque.
Iron Man stumbles upon Miklos and they fight:
Dr. Vryolak attempts to transform Madam Masque,
But it all ends poorly:
All of this gets Miklos thinking about what it mean to be an outcast and how Madam Masque, who is horribly disfigured, still seems to be loved.
Then more fighting:
The fight shatters a rock that is holding up the cave and it looks like victory for our villains is secured:
But Miklos has a crisis of conscience and sacrifices his life, and that of his father, so that Madam Masque, Jasper and Shellhead can escape leaving us with these panels:
Oddly enough, even through all of the death and destruction, Madam Masque finds hope out of how Tony and Jasper feel about her and she wanders off to make herself feel worthy of their love.
This is actually a pretty heavy concept for something that was, essentially, a kid’s book. I do realize that much of the point gets lost in the fact that 1) there is a Minotaur and 2) the final point is reached with the death of the two antagonists, but this issue just goes to show that there has never been a time when young people haven’t felt like outsiders. If we look back on our own teenage years and are really honest with ourselves, I’m sure we can all remember times when we felt like an outcast. I know I can. And this issue’s message, that there is hope and that people who care about you care about you no matter what you look like, is still relevant today. With bullying being a major point of social awareness and unfortunate events like school shootings happening more than anyone wants it’s important to realize that the underlying issues are not new.
Now, I don’t think Iron Man #24 is going to solve any of these bigger world issues, but maybe the angst of a teenage Minotaur is enough to get some conversation going and conversation is something.
Do you relate to Miklos’ plight? Are you still dealing with feeling like an outsider? Let’s talk about it in the comments. At least you’ll know you’re not alone.
See you next time.