Appearing in "The Hammer Strikes!"
- Hammer Industries
- Hammer's Super-Army
- Blizzard (Gregor Shapanka)
- Whiplash (Mark Scarlotti)
- Melter (Bruno Horgan)
- Beetle (Abner Jenkins)
- Water Wizard (Peter van Zante)
- 🢐 Leap-Frog (Vincent Patilio) 🢒
- Man-Killer (Katrina van Horn)
- 🢐 Porcupine (Alexander Gentry) 🢒
- Stiletto (Thomas Stuart)
- Discus (Timothy Stuart)
- Constrictor (Frank Schlichting)
- Monaco Police
- Ant-Man (Scott Lang) (Only in recap)
- Sergei Kotznin (Only in recap)
- Avengers (Only in recap)
- Bambi (Only in flashback)
- Tricky Dick (Mentioned)
- Jacques Cousteau (Mentioned)
- Alexander van Tilburg (Mentioned)
- Princess Grace of Monaco (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Humans (Main story and recap)
- Mutants (Only in recap)
- Human-Kree Hybrids (Only in recap)
- Synthezoids (Only in recap)
- United States of America (Main story and recap)
- Mediterranean Sea
- Carnelia (Mentioned)
- Iron Man Armor Model 4
- Blizzard Armor
- Constrictor's Battlesuit
- Beetle Armor MK I
- Melting Ray MK III
- Leap-Frog's Suit
- Porcupine Armor
- Captain America's Uniform and Shield (Only in recap)
- Falcon's Wings (Only in recap)
- Wasp's Suit (Only in recap)
- Ms. Marvel's Suit (Only in recap)
- Ant-Man's Suit and Helmet (Only in recap)
Synopsis for "The Hammer Strikes!"
The story opens in a beach of Monaco, where Jim Rhodes tries to explains his recent actions to the local police. They are surrounded by an angry crowd, which calls Rhodes an American pig and a Yankee hoodlum. Rhodes claims that a few minutes before, this whole beach was covered with armed goons. He was just fighting for his life. Someone then knocked his head and left him unconscious. He claims that his opponents left the beach while he was passed out. The crowd claims that Americans are liars, just like Tricky Dick. They blame Rhodes for destroying the beach, and want to teach him a lesson.
The police arrests Rhodes and one of the ringleaders of the angry crowd, intending to question them at the police headquarters. Rhodes wants the police to go after the goons, because they have abducted his boss. Rhodes further claims that he works for Tony Stark. The police officer in charge of the situation does not believe that Rhodes has any connection to Stark. He mocks Rhodes for his claim.
An extended flashback begins The flashback begins with Iron Man fighting against the Blizzard, the Melter, and Whiplash. The battle hinted at a master plan behind the villains, and it was connected to a mysterious man who was called "Hammer". Iron Man had little time to consider these clues or the existence of a possible conspiracy. The battle had caused a rift between himself and Bethany Cabe.
The flashback continues. Iron Man sought to lose himself in his work. He served as a representative for Stark International at a contract-signing ceremony for a foreign ambassador. The repulsor of the armor malfunctioned and killed the ambassador. The crowd of bystanders viewed Iron Man as a murdered. He was shocked to see the same accusation in Bethany's eyes. He managed to convince the police that the death was caused by a systems failure. The police then insisted on impounding the armor. Tony Stark reacted to the tragedy by starting to constantly consume whiskey. He eventually pulled himself together, and became determined to clear Iron Man's name. He informed the Avengers that he would temporarily step down from his position as their chairman.
The flashback continues. Tony Stark requested and received intense martial arts training from Captain America. Using martial arts was not as effective as using his armor, but it felt good to Tony. He enlisted his employee Scott Lang, sending him to interrogate the incarcerated Whiplash about "Mr. Hammer". Lang used his Ant-Man alter ego to get persuasive. Tony used the garnered information to follow the trail to Monaco, accompanied by his private pilot Jim Rhodes. They were soon surrounded by armed soldiers and got into a fight. While Stark and Rhodes were trying to escape, they ended up on a deserted beach. Then an amphibious landing craft appeared, blocking their path, and unloading an army of costumed combatants. Tony was able to hold his own in battle, and Rhodes turned out to be even more effective in combat. But then Rhodes was knocked out, and seconds later Tony was also knocked out. The soldiers proceeded to remove all evidence of their part in this battle, abandoned Rhodes at the edge of the bathing area, and dragged the unconscious Tony to their amphibious craft. The craft traveled in the Mediterranean Sea. The flashback ends.
In the present, Tony Stark awakes at Justin Hammer's Villa and comes face-to-face with Justin Hammer himself. Hammer introduces himself and claims that Tony is his primary competitor. Tony points out that he had never even heard of Hammer. Hammer replies that he goes to great lengths to avoid official attention. He distributes his influence among a great many diverse enterprises. His power and holdings in the business world are second only to those of Tony Stark. Stark International has been a thorn in his side for some time. Hammer reveals that they recently competed for the contract with Carnelia. He had made a generous offer to the ambassador to get that contract. The ambassador chose Stark International instead, because he was fascinated with Iron Man.
Hammer leads Stark to a board room, where Phillip Barnett is working on opening Stark's briefcase. Phillip reports that he and his team have been, so far, unable to override the print-lock mechanism of the briefcase. Hammer warns them not to damage the briefcase, in case it contains something important. Stark contemplates that his spare armor is in that case. Hammer introduces Barnett as the man who developed the computer system of the room. The system utilizes a hypersonic scan technique to bypass the protective coating of Iron Man's armor. The technique was used to neutralize the armor's controls on several occasions and to manipulate its actions. Tony Stark assumed that the armor was simply malfunctioning. The killing of the ambassador was one of these occasions, intended to discredit Stark International and to win the Carnelian contract for Hammer. Hammer reveals that the plan has already worked. The Carnelian consulate signed the contract with one of Hammer's subsidiary corporations, in the morning of this day.
As Hammer offers his explanations to Tony Stark, the two businessmen are surrounded by armed guards. Tony approached a guard and asks him whether he knows what a clavicle is. The guard replies that he does not know. Stark karate chops the guard's clavicle, causing the man to drop down on his knees. Tony then attempts to run away from Hammer. The other guards attempt to give chase, but Hammer instructs them to let Stark go. Hammer seems certain that Tony will not get far. Tony reaches the surrounding wall of the Villa and climbs to the top. He is expecting to escape into the mountains or woods outside. He is shocked to discover that the Villa is actually part of a giant boat, surrounded by sea. There is no way to escape, and Hammer mocks his futile efforts.
As the guards capture Tony Stark, Hammer learns that some of his returning agents will soon be arriving at the Helipad. The scene shifts to Manhattan, at the offices of Cabe and McPherson, security specialists, which also serve as the private quarters of Bethany Cabe and Ling McPherson. Bethany is getting dressed, and Ling urges her to hurry up or they will be late for their assignment. Bethany seems lost in her thoughts, and Ling asks her what seems to be wrong. She wonders whether Bethany's thoughts are for Alexander van Tilburg or for Tony Stark. Bethany admits she is thinking of both men. She comments that it looks like history is going to repeat itself. She does not think that she can take it again. The scene ends.
The scene shifts to the furnished cell where Tony Stark is held. He notices a liquor cabinet and goes in search for a drink. To his disappointment, the cabinet is empty. He calls for room service and alerts the guard outside his cell. He tries to bribe the guard to bring him some alcoholic drinks. The guard reports that Hammer's information network has noticed that Tony is drinking too hard. Hammer wants him sober and has given such instructions to his staff. The only drink available to the prisoner is a jug of water. Tony is frustrated with the guard's attitude, and decides to teach him some manners.
Some time later, the guard hears the noise of something breaking within the cell. He immediately enters the cell to investigate, and steps on a puddle of water. Tony Stark in a relaxed mood, reports that he has broke an electric lamp. He holds the lamp in his hands and points to the water. The guard is suddenly very scared and asks what Tony intents to do. Tony uses the lamp to electrify the water, electrocuting the guard. He then escapes. Tony figures that the house current of the Villa will not be enough to permanently damage the guard, but it should be enough to knock him out.
Tony does not locate any other guards on active duty, and manages to sneak out to the Villa's garden. He locates a helicopter about to land. He plans to take over the helicopter to use it as his escape vehicle, in order to return to Monaco and alert the authorities about Hammer's conspiracy. While spying the helicopter, Tony finds out the identities of three of Hammer's agents. They are the Blizzard, the Melter, and Whiplash. All three exit the helicopter, while dressed in their super-villain uniforms. Hammer has helped them escape from Ryker's Island. Hammer warns his agents that he may not help them again if they fail. He finds neither pleasure, nor profit in financing failures.
Tony sneaks away. He has realized that Justin Hammer has more secrets and plots than he expected. He wants to find out what they are. He decides to use a gimmick prepared for him by Scott Lang. The belt that Tony is wearing actually consists of 20 feet of ultra-thin and super-strong nylon weave. His belt buckle contains a hidden switch, which changes the buckle into a miniature grappling hook. After a few failed efforts, Tony manages get the grappling hook attached to the roof of the Villa. He uses the nylon rope to climb the walls of the building. He gets to a second-story window, kicks and shatters the glass, and gains access to Phillip Barnett's computer laboratory. He uses martial arts to knock out Barnett and his guards. He retrieves the armor case. It contains a spare version of Iron Man Armor Model 4 and incendiary bombs prepared by Scott Lang. Tony prepares to use the bombs to disable the computer.
Hammer warns his three agents about the consequences of failure. They suddenly hear an explosion from the computer lab. Hammer deduces that Stark caused the explosion. He sounds the alarm and calls out his reserve operatives. A small army of super-villains emerges from the Villa and responds to the call. They include the Beetle, Constrictor, Discus, Leap-Frog, Man-Killer, Porcupine, Spymaster, Stiletto, and Water Wizard.
Hammer and his agents soon enter the computer lab. A voice alerts them that Mr. Stark has been taken to safety. In his place is Iron Man, who threatens to take every one of the agents and rip them to tiny pieces. He will then come after Hammer himself. The story ends.
- As seen on page one, this issue is Story# LG 496.
- This issue contains a letters page, "Printed Circuits". Letters are published from Blair Young, Jon Green, Brian Wenzel, and Lynn Gibbs.
- The cover of this issue heavily resembles the cover of Tales of Suspence 39, where Iron Man first appeared.
- The issue makes mention of Richard Nixon's reputation for lying. Richard Nixon, nicknamed Tricky Dick, was President of the United States from 1969 to 1974. He was elected twice, representing the Republican Party. He was forced to resign the office, following the investigation of the Watergate scandal. The scandal involved Nixon financing his own team of operatives for the wiretapping of the Democratic Party's headquarters in Washington, D.C.. After Nixon repeatedly denied his involvement in the scandal, Nixon's habit of covertly tape-recording his conversations provided evidence against him. He had recorded incriminating conversations. The scandal solidified Nixon's reputation for corruption and encouraged the American public's distrust of their own government. The Marvel issue was published in 1979, only 5 years following Nixon's resignation.
- The officer who arrests Jim Rhodes, mockingly claims to work for Jacques Cousteau. Jacques Cousteau (1910-1997) was a famous French explorer, marine conservationist, and documentary filmmaker. He devoted his life to the study of the sea and of aquatic lifeforms. Cousteau did pioneering research in underwater diving and marine archaeology, improved the technology used for diving, and filmed a large number of his expeditions. He became a household name for much of the 20th century. His ship, the Calypso, was among the most famous ships of the era.
- Tony Stark makes reference to the clavicle, though he does not explain what it is. The clavicle or collarbone is a long bone that serves as a strut between the shoulder blade and the sternum or breastbone. There are two clavicles, one on the left and one on the right. The clavicle is the only long bone in the body that lies horizontally.
- For reasons of his own Justin Hammer wants Tony Stark to remain sober, and grants him no access to alcohol. This is an obstacle to Tony's developing alcoholism.
- Tony Starks mentions Princess Grace of Monaco. Grace Kelly was an American actress. In 1956, she married Rainier III, Prince of Monaco and became his Princess consort. They had three children, including two daughters and a single son. Grace was fatally injured in a car accident in 1982, dying shortly after.
- The Marvel Chronology Project, which covers character appearances, has the following information about the characters of the issue.
- Phillip Barnett previously appeared in Iron Man Vol 1 124 (July, 1979).
- The Beetle previously appeared in Defenders Vol 1 65 (November, 1978).
- The Blizzard previously appeared in Iron Man Vol 1 124 (July, 1979).
- Constrictor previously appeared in Captain America Vol 1 229 (January, 1979).
- Discus previously appeared in Power Man and Iron Fist Vol 1 50 (April, 1978).
- Leap-Frog previously appeared in Defenders Vol 1 64 (October, 1978).
- Man Killer previously appeared in Daredevil Vol 1 123 (July, 1975).
- Ling McPherson next appears in Iron Man Vol 1 134 (May, 1980).
- The Melter previously appeared in Iron Man Vol 1 124 (July, 1979).
- Porcupine previously appeared in Defenders Vol 1 65 (November, 1978).
- Spymaster previously appeared in Iron Man Vol 1 117 (December, 1978).
- Stiletto previously appeared in Power Man and Iron Fist Vol 1 50 (April, 1978).
- Water Wizard previously appeared in Ghost Rider Vol 2 24 (June, 1977).