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Tony Stark wakes up from a coma. He sees himself in a hospital. Pepper, Rhodey and Happy are standing around him, trying to sympathise him and caring for him. This is when Rumiko bursts into the room and flings a paper on Tony's lap. The paper shows that "Tony Stark is Iron Man". Tony is stupefied. He thinks that a joke is being played on him, when Rumiko adds that a small kid had lifted up his visor to reveal his identity. Pepper asks Tony whether he will erase their memories again. Rumiko gets very angry and leaves the room.

Later, Tony is sitting inside the Stark labs, connected to the dream machine. Jocasta tells him that Pepper, Happy and Rhodey have all been given paid leave and sent to an unknown place for their own safety. She adds that Tony must stand up against the rumors. Tony says that he does not need her lectures and goes out of the lab. He comes to a wine cellar. He had given up drinking long ago but he starts again. The Avengers come online on his intercom and inform him that they are to remove him from his post in the Avengers and regret doing it. Tony smashes the tv screen. He picks up a cellphone and dials Rumiko's number, only to find out that she's already married. He sits down on the floor but suddenly stirs, when Ms. Marvel comes to his aid. He rebukes her, saying that he doesn't need her help. This angers Carol and she storms out of the place.

Suddenly, Jocasta comes online, chanelling worldwide news through the laptop. Tony hears that all his beloved and near and dear ones are dead. He also hears a a broadcast, proclaiming that Tony Stark is Iron Man. Tony finds out his armor and hurls it out of the shelf. He passes out.

Tony regains his senses, only to find out a booming sound coming from the outer wall. To his astonishment, Mandarin comes in. He puts the armor on Tony and challenges him to fight. He adds that he had raped Rumiko before killing her. This angers Tony and he lashes out at Mandarin. Mandarin powers up all of his 10 rings and blasts at Iron Man. Tony blocks the blast and reaches Mandarin, crushing his fingers to pulp. Mandarin starts laughing, but Tony delivers a fatal chop at his neck. Tony feels his chest on fire. He tries to reach for his bottle and the world dims around him.

Lightning. Thunder. Rain. Tony comes around, finding himself lying on the street. He is surprised to find that his visor is still on his face. His chest is really on fire. Tony hears the pathetic voice again, pleading to him to help it survive. Tony is confused and flies up into the air. He shuts down all unnecessary systems. Still he hears the voice. When he asks its identity, the voice confirms itself as "

Iron Man

". Tony is dumbstruck.

Later, in the Stark lab, Jocasta runs calculations and tells him that the armor is really alive. She adds that Tony needs rest because he suffered a heart-attack last night.

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dmstarz's favourite marvel comic cover no184 0

Okay, this is contraversial. In 1979, Bob Layton produced a very famous image for Iron Man 128, which showed a desperate Tony Stark in front of a mirror with a bottle of whiskey, glass on its side. Stark has broken out in a cold sweat and is unshaven. It was a very brave cover for its time. Don't get me wrong - it made the shortlist from which I composed my top 250, but didn't make the cut. Why? In the end, I just couldn't bring myself to like Layton's take on Stark. It just looked odd. I someho...

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