(OCTOBER 1977)



"Run For The Money!"
(17 pages)
(Part 1 of 5)

Cover pencils - George Perez
Cover inks -
Mike Esposito

Story - Bill Mantlo
Art - George Tuska
Inks - Mike Esposito
Colours - Phil Rache
Lettering - Anette Kawecki
Editor - Archie Goodwin

Letters page - Printed Circuits (1 page)

"Jasper Sitwell, Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., thought heading up a huge corporation in Tony Stark's absence would be dull! That was before he discovered theft and treachery at Stark International and became embroiled in a ... run for the money!"




Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. Jasper Sitwell is minding the store while Iron Man is out of the coutry, first fighting the Mandarin in China and then Dreadknight in the grounds of Castle Frankenstein in Switzerland. Unfortunately, things are not as calm as Sitwell was expecting them to be, as he discovers that Tony Stark's personal secretary, Krissy Longfellow, along with employee Harry Key, has been involved in industrial espionage and selling out Stark Industries behind his back to one Mordecai Midas (first introduced in Iron Man #17, September 1969), an individual obsessed by Ancient Greece.

Following a car chase Longfellow and Key manage to shake off Sitwell, but when Key has to admit his failure to Midas in regard of procuring one of Iron Man's spare armour suits, he is pushed to his death off of Midas' Flying Fortress (which resembles a flying akropolis). His co-conspirator Krissy Longfellow then reveals herself to Midas as being Madam Masque.

Meanwhile, in France, Tony Stark is on his way back home from Switzerland and, in his Iron Man identity, boards a plane from Paris to New York by commerical jetplane. Upon his arrival, however, he discovers that Midas has bought out much of the Stark Industries board and has de facto taken over the company. Following a brief skirmish with Jack of Hearts at the company's facility, Iron Man also learns who Krissy Longfellow really is - and gets told by Midas that he is fired after Stark has now lost everything. Thunderstruck, Iron Man grabs Madam Masque and takes off, while elsewhere Tony Stark's telepathic ex-girlfriend Marianne Rodgers is released from a sanitarium.



Iron Man #103 kicks off a five-issue story arc which would be concluded in Iron Man #107 (February 1978 cover date). Most people don't rate it too highly, while some even consider it to be a true lemon. The plot is somewhat scattered and some of the character concepts are outrageously overblown even for a 1970s comic book, but there are a few nice touches here and there.

Written by Bill Mantlo, the first four instalments were the final Iron Man issues pencilled by George Tuska and inked by Mike Esposito before Keith Pollard and Fred Kida took over as of Iron Man #107, after which Pollard became the book's regular penciller following a brief stint by Carmine Infantino for issues #108 and #109.

Bill Mantlo (born in 1951)was a prolific writer for Marvel from the mid-1970s to the early 1980s, working on many major titles (such as Iron Man and Hulk) while really making a name for himself through his handling of licensed properties comic book adaptations, most famously ROM and Micronauts. He co-created a number of characters (e.g. Rocket Raccoon) and was the first writer to have Luke Cage exclaim his now famous tagline "Sweet Christmas". It was a career which had developed out of not too promising beginnings:

"I was unemployed (...) and then an old college friend, Annette Kawecki, called. Seems she had gotten a job as a letterer at Marvel Comics, and wondered if I'd be interested in doing past-ups and mechanicals for them. (...) I was interviewed by the late John Verpoorten, hired, and became his assistant, doing the most mindless production work there is." (Bill Mantlo in BEM, 1979)

Mantlo was more than modest regarding his self-appreciation ("I would write any character quickly and, while my plotting was weak, everyone liked my dialogue", BEM 1979), but for many he was indeed simply Marvel's fill-in king, "able to write quickly and help multiple series avoid reprints or delayed releases when regular writers missed deadlines" (McMillan, 2017). When it came to Iron Man, however, his plotting and writing was spot on most of the time, and he penned numerous great stories between 1976 and 1978 while also adding some nice touches along the way.

Mantlo's ability to add some comic relief on the fly also shows in Iron Man #103, when an Iron Man desperate to board a jet home is struggling with French airport security -after all, it is true that "anyone could wear such a costume".


Original artwork by George Tuska (pencils) and Mike Esposito (inks) for page 6 of Iron Man #103 (scanned from the original)
the same page as it appeared in print (colouring by Phil Rachelson)

At the same time, the reference to Iron Man's reason of being at Paris Orly (en route from Castle Frankenstein in the Swiss Alps) is also a pointer to a lesser piece of work by Mantlo from 1975: his scripting for Frankenstein Monster #18, the final issue from that series before it was cancelled. A muddled closing to a title on the slide, Mantlo felt he wanted to give readers who remembered the dangling plotlines some closure - and thus sent Iron Man to Switzerland where, indeed, some open questions from Frankenstein Monster #18 were answered in Iron Man #101 and #102.

Mantlo left the comic book industry in the late 1980s after having successfully attended law school. In 1992 he was struck by a car and suffered severe head trauma; thanks to a new deal struck with Marvel Comics over his creator rights for Rocket Raccoon and the Guardians of the Galaxy movies Mantlo has been able to move from a nursing home to his own flat in 2017.


Original pencil and ink artwork by George Tuska (2008 commission, scanned from the original)

George Tuska (1916 - 2009) was already a seasoned comic book industry veteran who had started out back in 1939 with Fox Comics. His first work at Marvel Comics was for Tales of Suspense #58 (November 1964) where he pencilled the last "Tales of the Watcher" feature to appear in that title (Captain America moved in to replace them).

Thus already close to Iron Man (who at the time starred in Tales of Suspense before getting his own title in May 1968), Tuska finally found himself pencilling Ol' Shellhead for the first time in September 1968 (Iron Man #5).


George Tuska in the 1960s


It would prove to be a definitive match as Tuska went on to pencil Iron Man for what would turn out to be a period of almost 10 years (with a few brief interruptions here and there). During that time, Tuska developed and shaped the visuals of the character into what became nothing less than the iconic look of Iron Man for the entire Bronze Age.

He gave the armour weight (something which had previously been lacking most of the time) yet added a dynamic to the look which made it just so more believable that this guy could actually fly. His knowledge of both anatomy and mechanics resulted in physical poses and technical gadgets which just sat perfectly right, and as he also had an eye for composition he managed to convey movement in a way which could make some panels seem to almost pop right out of the page.
In short, Tuska and Iron Man were a perfect combination (although he also brought his pencilling talent to a number of other Marvel titles throughout the 1970s).

"[George Tuska's] layouts were certainly more imaginative than the standard at the time, and the way in which characters (...) held a lot of their strength in their shoulders and punched from their legs up through their torsos betrayed his knowledge of strength and fitness. His signature flourish may have been characters in arrested motion, coiled in preparation for violence (...), legs splayed in the form of a near-base ready for what might come next. (Spurgeon, 2009)


Iron Man #57 (April 1973)

Which is why, even though Iron Man #103 has a few stutterings on the level of plot and storytelling, the issue still comes across as visually dynamic. It's also what made Tuska so valuable for Marvel: he could keep even a mediocre tale from sinking and still give it a spin.


Iron Man #103 went on sale in the US on 26 July 1977; two variant cover versions exist: a limited distribution (i.e. price increase reception test) 35˘ price cover and a Whitman edition.

The colourists name is given as Phil Rache in the credits on the splashpage, whereas his correct full name is actually Phil Rachelson.


Most of the single page letters page (aptly called "printed circuits") of this issue is taken up by Bill Mantlo^s background notes on Jack of Hearts, who would become a recurring character in future issues.

Other than the airport security scene, Mantlo stuck another humorous piece into this issue by actually featuring Mary Jo Duffy as an autograph chaser on that Air France flight. Essentially an in-joke, her remark "wait'll I show this back at the bullpen" is a clue - Mary Jo Duffy actually started work as an editor for Marvel Comics in 1977.

Iron Man #103 has so far not been reprinted, although the Masterworks series will no doubt eventually catch up with it. It has, however, been published for the French market by Editions Lug (Strange #105, September 1978), in Swedish by Atlantic Förlads AB (in Atlantic Special #1, 1981), in Norwegian by Atlantic Forlag (in Atlantic Spesial 31, 1981), and for the Spanish market by Panini (in Biblioteca Marvel: Iron Man #21, 2007).



BEM (1979) "Bill Mantlo and the Micronauts", interview originally published in BEM Fanzine #24 (July 1979)

McMillan Graeme (2017) "Beyond Rocket Raccoon: Bill Mantlo's Often Overlooked Comic Book Career", in Hollywood Reporter, 4 May 2017

Spurgeon Tom (2009) "George Tuska, 1916-2009", in Comics Reporter (16 October 2009)


The illustrations presented here are copyright material.
Their reproduction for the review and research purposes of this website is considered fair use
as set out by the Copyright Act of 1976, 17 U.S.C. par. 107.

(c) 2017-2018


uploaded to the web 1 January 2018