Iron Man #23
(December 1999)

Title: Ultimate Danger
Story: Kurt Busiek/Roger Stern
Art: Sean Chen

Summary: The story begins as Tony meets with his current lady friend, Rumiko Fujikawa and his cousin, Morgan aboard the S.S. Joseph C. Gillis; a research vessel designed by Stark-Fujikawa. When Rumiko & Morgan reveal that the ship is powered by the inactive robot known as Ultimo, Tony quickly warns them of all kinds of dangers posed by the unknown and powerful construct. Morgan & Rumiko argue with Tony over this matter and it ends with Rumiko reading Tony the riot act for refusing to relax and let it go.

Following this less-than-glowing encounter with his current love interest, a melancholy Tony decides to check in on Carol Danvers. As he arrives at Carol's Seattle apartment, Tony bumps into Tracy Burke, an old friend of Carol's from her days at WOMAN Magazine. Tracy recognizes Tony and expresses her hope that he has better luck getting through to Carol than she did.

Tony enters to find Carol drinking at her desk. When Tony mentions it, a clearly intoxicated Carol claims that she's decided to drink "professionally" in an attempt to cure her writer's block. Tony tries to explain that even occassional drinking won't work for an alcoholic, but Carol will hear none of it! Tony thinks back to his own drunken binges and how he also refused to listen to the good counsel of his friends.

The pair are interrupted by a distress call from Jocasta, who alerts Tony to an attack on the Stark-Fujikawa research vessel where he had just met with Rumiko. From Rumiko's description, Tony surmises that the ship is under attack by Goldenblade & Sapper. Hearing the names of her old foes, Carol takes one last drink and transforms into Warbird, fully prepared to join the now armored Tony. Iron Man easily distracts Warbird and proceeds to knock Carol out cold. Though regretful of his actions, Iron Man realizes there was no other way to keep the intoxicated Carol out of this fight.

Iron Man makes short work of Sapper & Goldenblade and sticks around to help with the mop-up. Naturally, he gets so caught up in his work he forgets about his dinner date with Rumiko as Tony Stark. She announces her irritation and tells Iron Man to let his boss know not to bother with her again. A dejected Tony returns home to a waiting Pepper. The two share a kiss while under the ocean waters... Ultimo stirs.

Comments: This issue features another cameo by Tracy Burke, Carol's long-time friend and former supporting character in the Ms. Marvel series. Look for Carol's story to come to a dramatic conclusion in the pages of Iron Man #24-25 and Avengers #26!


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