Tony Stark has it all… good looks, billions of dollars, beautiful women fawning all over him, but hey, every guy’s got to grow up sometime and begin his search for a classy partner. Thanks to my recent acquisition of a small collection of tattered, yellowed comics from the 1970s and ’80s, I discovered one of Tony’s efforts to woo an elegant and intelligent woman.
Now one as to bear in that this particular courtship came at a difficult time in Tony’s life. He was just beginning to realize that booze might be something of an issue for him (blackouts, you see… time to ease off on the hooch, though not to cut it out entirely). His erratic behavior as Iron Man has also caught the attention of some longtime friends. Why, the Lions Club even cancelled Shellhead’s regular appearance at their New York conference! And you know when you lose the Lions, there’s just no way to save face.
In any case, a nice night on the town with a beautiful, engaging woman such as Bethany Cabe ought to address any bruised ego, right? So let’s see… where to take her? It’s New York, so the possibilities are endless. The Rainbow Room? Nah, too predictable. Famous Original Ray’s Pizza? Not fancy enough. Where to go, where to go…?
Oh, I know…
The Playboy Club.
I was dumbfounded as I made my way through this Marvel comic from 1980. I know that the publisher expanded its readership into the college crowd in the 1970s, but the notion that a Marvel hero would be shown among the Bunnies of a bygone era floored me. Even mind-boggling is the fact that Tony Stark (looking more like Burt Reynolds than Robert Downey Jr., thanks to artists Jerry Bingham and Bob Layton) sees that one-time hotspot as a perfect place to wine and dine an eligible bachelorette is at a place with a brand synonymous with naked college-age girls.
The Playboy Club chain is no more, with only one club left in the United States (in Vegas, appropriately enough). I always thought of Playboy Clubs as a 1960s phenomenon, not a creature of the 1980s.
Of course, the club isn’t the only noteworthy, famous element to turn up in this issue. Remember that Lions Club gig that Iron Man lost? Well, somebody had to fill the slot, and apparently, the Lions of the Marvel Universe turned from a hero who had lost respect to a comedian with no respect: Rodney Dangerfield himself.
I knew real-world figures turned up in Marvel titles from time to time, but I hadn’t heard about this cameo. Writers David Michelinie and Bob Layton gave the late comedian his due, though. He maintains his trademark humor and demeanor even cowering in the face of one of Iron Man’s deadliest foes, the Titanium Man. I would imagine Real World Rodney might have lamented that Marvel Rodney ended up facing such an obscure villain rather than Doc Doom or the Red Skull.
No respect, I tell ya, no respect.