Iron Man #25
(February 2000)

Title: Ultimate Devestation!
Story: Kurt Busiek/Roger Stern
Art: Sean Chen, Bob Layton, Bernard Chang, Tom Lyle & Yancy Labat.

Summary: The story opens with the rampage of ULTIMO!!! IronMan and US Air Force troops attempt to stop the mechanical menace but are stymied when they learn that Ultimo has adapted defenses that protect him from the tactics used against him in the past. Iron Man calls for help, but the Avengers are still in Slorenia repairing the damage wrought by Ultron. Iron Man's attempts to call for aid are futile.

Meanwhile, Carol Danvers awakens in a hospital room. She is greeted by her doctor who is surprised to see that she has recovered so quickly from the severe alcohol poisoning she was diagnosed with. The doctor warns that she did extensive damage to her liver and internal organs and recommends extensive rehab or detox. She also warns that if Carol takes another drink, it will kill her! Carol demands her clothes and leaves against the doctor's recommendation.

Meanwhile, Iron Man works on a strategy to stop Ultimo. He calls on the aid of Sapper & Goldenblade whose submerged spacecarft is Ultimo's ultimate target. The pair of misunderstood mechanoids agree to assist Shellhead, much to the chagrin of the SHIELD agents in charge of them. Meanwhile, Pepper & Happy take steps toward reconciliation. The trio of armored warriors manage to keep Ultimo occupied while Pepper, Happy & Rumiko work to upload the commands used by Stark-Fujikawa to control Ultimo.

In Seattle, Carol goes to a bar unwilling to believe her doctor's prognosis. She sees the battle against Ultimo and charges out of the bar, transforming into Warbird! Feeling drained and woozy, she "borrows" some power from some exposed power lines being worked on nearby. The energy recharge helps her gain her bearings and brings back memories of what happened last issue when she battled Iron Man and nearly crashed a commercial airplane. Seeking to make amends, Warbird rushes to the battle with Ultimo. At first, Carol thinks that Goldenblade & Sapper are assisting Ultimo. Tony quickly sets her straight and warns her that if she's been drinking to stay out of his way. Warbird assures him she's sober and Iron Man sends her to retrieve the equipment needed to stop Ultimo. Carol quickly returns with the equipment which enables Tony to infiltrate Ultimo's command center and take control of the robot. Together, the pair of Avengers manage to halt Ultimo's rampage before he reaches Spokane.

The story draws to a close as Sapper & Goldenblade use Ultimo's own power source to recharge Sapper's starship. The pair then leave the planet with plans to restore Sapper's people on a new planet. Ultimo himself is dismantled for study. Tony realizes that he is not truly addicted to his armor, but compelled to be a hero by whatever means available. The armor is merely another tool he uses to make the world a safer place. The final scene takes place in Seattle where Tony and Carol attend a meeting of Alcoholics Anonymous. Here are Tony's thoughts:

"Carol Danvers is one of the bravest women I've ever known. She's been a spy and a super hero. She's battled cyborgs, elementals, and alien on earth and beyond the stars. She's endured trotures and heartaches the likes of which I can only begin to imagine. But the simple act of crossing a room full of strangers...may be one of the bravest things I've ever seen her do. I know it's one of the hardest. It's never easy to admit you have a problem."

With that, Carol takes the podium and says ....

Comments: This marks the end of Kurt Busiek's run on Iron Man. It also wraps up Carol's ongoing alcoholism problem. In Avengers #25, Iron Man states that Carol has been in AA "for weeks". Warbird next appears in Avengers #26.