No Communists Were Injured Making This Comic
I'm a big fan of Cold War Silver Age baddies, which is what drew me to this special. Alas, this issue does not include good ol' Boris or the late lamented Gremlin (a somewhat benevolent chap whose death was caused by Tony without any repercussions). Instead the Titanium Man that appears is simply the robotic pawn of the first story's villain. While moderately fun, the tale was marred by a solution so simple that falls under the "so why didn't you do this right away?" category. Tony using a racist term in an "oops I didn't mean it like that" way was cheap and unnecessary. In general this was one of those potrayals of Tony as being smarmy and somewhat unethical. I don't have a problem with that per se, just with how he acts like that yet generally gets treated as a highly respected hero. Maybe he should change his name to Teflon Man.
The second story was the best offering in my opinion. It starred Pepper Potts, looking quite nice as drawn by Nuno Plati. The villain here was the Mauler. Like the first tale, this wasn't a familiar face in the suit. But while I did miss that brogue, this Mauler and his cronies had fleshed-out personalities. Pepper showed a lot of grit and ingenuity, proving she's not simply the beneficiary of Tony's toys.
The third story was decent but it suffered due to two things. It was set pre-Civil War, making the interaction between Tony and Maria Hill meaningless because we know he becomes head of SHIELD and how he treats her there. It also involved Ultimo being beaten in a few pages. A classic case of villain degradation, a robot that once took Tony to the limit and required an Iron Legion to beat is now background material.
The last installment was a standard in Iron Man anthology stories... someone hacks the armor. Not a lot of depth to it and pretty short.
Overall, a decent collection but not a must-have. The primary story was fun but flawed, the second enjoyable, and the last two quite forgettable. I think I would've preferred a reprint of a classic Titanium Man tale instead of some of the latter half's material. And I will be starting campaign to bring back the Gremlin.