Tussling with Titans

There are times in a man's life when he realizes his goals may not be shared by all. Tony Stark, for example, mused on this line of thought as he sat before the man whose name was stenciled on the door behind him.

Bolivar Trask was a man much like himself. The Trask fortune had been largely built by Bolivar himself, but where they compared was the how. Trask's knowledge of electronics was perhaps only equaled by Stark's. Stark had thought Trask called him to present a new type of transistor.

"So Mr. Stark, as you can see, the prototype is perfected. With Stark Industries behind me I can have a full army assembled by the end of the quarter."

Stark was sick to his senses. In front of him was a small model robot. At first he thought Trask had designed a new toy. Then Trask broke out the slides. Bizarre armored beings were whipping humans.

Robots, larger than the model, flew in and began to blast and rend the humanoid creatures apart. Trask animatedly began to describe the robots other capabilities before Stark stood up and left. Trask paled. "Wait, where are you going?"

Stark ignored him until Trask gripped his arm. Turning on the inventor, Stark's fury made Trask step back. "I'm leaving this horror show Trask. I came here because you promised to show me something that would save the world, and instead I see a sick and demented fantasy!"

"Sick? The mutant threat is real Stark! My Sentinels will be the only hope humanity has, don't you see? Your Iron Man suit is pretty, but what happens when you try to take down a mutant who can manipulate metal? Or one that could read your bodyguard's mind? What then?"

"And what if your self –aware machines decide to cut out the middle man and attack humans? I will not allow my technology to be used for senseless slaughter!"

"What?" Trask gasped. "You sell weapons to the army, what do you think they're using those for?"

"Defense of a nation is one thing. What you're describing is a holocaust." Stark shook his arm free.

"You can't walk out on me Stark!" Trask snarled. "I've seen the future, and it holds no place for humans like us! You think that tin suit of yours will protect you?" He grew manic. "Or maybe hanging around those Avengers freaks has blinded you?"

Trask never saw the punch, but he did feel it. Stark rubbed his knuckles and walked out the door. Greeted by his secretary Pepper Potts, he straightened his tie as they walked out to the waiting limo. "Pepper, get my lawyers on the phone. By the end of the day I want to be chief stock holder in this company."

"Oh, did the meeting go according to plan?" Pepper was nervous.

"No, but I want to do everything in my power to shut Trask down."

Trask was not a man to let insults go. After a brief side trip to the company doctor he went to his private lab. "That billionaire buffoon thinks he can humiliate me? I'll prove the mutant menace is real!"

"And I'll have his own lackey help me!" Trask picked up a large rifle. The end of the barrel was flared out. He loaded a large disk inside the chamber. A large box with a glass display began to ping loudly. "A mutant in the area? Perfect, this will give me the opportune test run!"

Betty Ross grumbled as Stark entered the limo. "You know, Doris Day once sat in that same seat?" Tony smiled.

"Yeah, but did she wait for two hours?"

"You had Happy." Tony pointed the driver, his current chauffeur and former boxer.

"Yeah, who's too scared to talk to me." Betty grew annoyed. While not the Hulk, she had been displaying more of a temper recently. "I only have so many hours to myself before I have to report back to the brass, and I waste it here?"

"Sorry, but you did say you wanted to see the coast." Stark rolled down the window, allowing the gulf breeze inside the car. He noticed, not for the first time, how well defined her arms were.

"True, but I had hoped it would be on the beach." Betty cupped her chin in her hand. "But I guess I shouldn't have imposed."

"Nonsense." Stark opened up a small compartment and took out a pair of glasses. "I know you don't get out much, and Iron Man said you needed some friends outside the cape and cowl set."

"True." Betty did feel a bit self conscious. She was the only one of the Avengers whose identity wasn't a secret to the rest of the team. She was annoyed when the group decided to keep their masks on, "Like they don't trust me?" She huffed.

"Tell you what, why don't you go ahead to the airfield, and I'll have Iron Man fly you to a great little place I know in the mountains?"

She raised her eyebrows at that. "He can do that?"

"Sure, just let me signal him" Stark's words were cut off when something crashed into the back of the car.

"Boss, some nut just rear ended us!" Happy Hogan's voice rang out from the intercom.

"I am aware of that Happy!" Tony glanced at Betty. She hadn't changed, and he was grateful. "I doubt my Rolls could take a Hulk-out, not to mention my insurance."

Grabbing his attaché case, he opened the door. "Happy, gun it! I'll roll free and signal Iron Man! Betty, I need you to contact the other Avengers!" he jumped free of the car over her protests.

"I am so thankful I wore my new boots under my suit!" Tony had jumped clear of the car just as it rounded a sharp curve near a steep cliff. Going over the side, he powered his rocket boots to slow his descent. Landing, he quickly stripped free of the ruined suit and opened the case.

Instead of the usual bulky golden armor, he pulled out a sleek red and gold helmet. "No time like the present to test equipment!" With a series of hisses and snaps he was encased in the armor of Iron Man. "Now to see who wants Tony Stark dead this week."

Trask cursed loudly as Stark fell out of the car. "Blast it! If that fool dies it could ruin all my plans!" He slammed on the brakes, allowing the other car to speed away. "I've got to ditch this car before his underlings call the police!"

He felt his own car shake. "What?" Opening the door, he paled when the wheels were no longer touching the road. "Who's doing this?"

"That would be me." Iron Man casually propped the car, upside down, against the rocky mountain wall. "Mind telling me why you were trying to kill my boss?"

"To get your attention!" Trask fell free from the car, rifle in his hand. He managed to fire the disk onto Iron Man's chest before the Avenger could fire.

Electricity arched and surged as Iron Man tried to remove the disk. "What is this thing doing?" Internal sensors screamed in protest.

"Overriding your controls." Trask reached into the car's backseat. Flipping down the cushion, he reached inside the trunk and pulled out a complicated looking control panel. "Now I am in control."

"What are you going to do? Use me to get back at Stark?" Iron Man tried to move as his limbs refused to budge.

"No, that pompous fool has sealed his fate. " Adjusting the monitor, he smiled as it began to ring. "My scanner has just detected the presence of a mutant." Stark's blood ran cold. "And you, my gold knight, are going to hunt it down and kill it."

"Warren, what's the matter?" Candace Southern, better known to her friends as Candy, glanced at her passenger.

Warren Worthington III, otherwise known as the Angel, took his attention away from the coastline. "Sorry, just day dreaming I guess." To be honest, he wasn't dreaming. The X-Men had made their presence known, and he was worried. "Candy deserves to know, but how can I tell her?"

His concerns were pushed aside when Iron Man fly around the bend and hovered before them. "Candy, look out!"

Iron Man raised one arm and fired a repulsor blast from his glove. The ray punched through the engine and front tires, sending the car into a spin. Crashing into the rocky outcropping, Warren gingerly raised his head from the dashboard. "Candy?"

She was slumped over the wheel, her face bloody. "Candy!" Unbuckling his seat belt, he moved towards her when Iron Man fired another blast, this one tearing through the back seat and setting the car on fire.

Tearing his shirt and jacket free, Warren unclipped the harness that kept his wings bound against his body. Pulling the torn seat belt free, he carefully picked Candy up and flew free as the car burned. "Candy needs a doctor, but I can't move her anymore!" Flying to the top of the cliffs, he set her down among the tall grass before Iron Man followed. "I have to draw that killer away and fast!"

Swooping down, he sailed behind the golden avenger and slammed a large rock against his helmet. "You're not fighting a helpless girl now monster! Let's see how you do in a real dogfight!"

Tony Stark tried to clear his vision as his suit turned. "Radio's jammed! I can't warn the Hulk or the Avengers and now this winged kid is trying to kill me! Think Tony, think!"

"Look, I appreciate the concern and all, but don't worry." Betty slipped off her shoes. Pepper wrung her hands together.

"Lord, the things I have to deal with when I started working here," she muttered under her breath. "Mr. Stark said to take you to the airfield and that Iron Man would handle it."

"Yeah, and neither of them is here." Betty snapped back, her eyes giving off a faint glow. Her dress already felt two sizes too small. "I'm going to track them both down, then I'm going to find that jerk who tried to run us off the road."

"This might help." Pepper pulled a small electronic device from her purse. "Mr. Stark said if we couldn't locate Iron Man, this tracker should lead us to him."

"Could come in handy, thanks." She held it carefully as her dress split up the sides. Wrapping it carefully in a fold, she took a running jump as the device began to ring. The back of her dress, as well as most of the front, exploded from the expanded mass of muscles.

Happy Hogan whistled as she bounced away. "Wow, what a woman!" Pepper narrowed her eyes at him.

The Hulk landed with a thud. Pulling herself out of the crater, she looked around. There were the smoldering remains of a car and nothing else. "Thing says Tin head is close, but where?"

Climbing up the hillside, she gasped when she spotted the prone form of Candy Southern. Pulling a walkie-talkie from the shreds of her dress; she always carried a communications device with her, she radioed Pepper. Ignoring Pepper's questions, she barked orders. "I have a civilian down, possible internal injuries, if she was involved with the crash. Radio the hospital and tell them to get a medic evac out of here ASAP." Shutting the device off, she resumed using the tracker.

"Strange, this says he's right here?" A shadow fell over her. "Aw nuts."

Several minutes before the Hulk arrived

The Angel was going for blood. Tony had to admire the kid. His suit was built to fly, but the Angel was made that way. Trask's controlling of his suit slowed the movements down, allowing the Angel to hit and run, a tactic Tony hadn't taken into consideration when designing the suit. "If I survive this, I'm putting that at the top of the list for new suits."

Using a piece of metal, possibly a crowbar, Tony wasn't sure, the Angel swooped down and slammed it over his helmet. At such a height, Trask couldn't see clearly and the controls were weakening. Not weakening enough, however, as the Angel flew back again and shoved the metal piece into his left boot's exhaust. It shot the obstruction out almost at once, but the damage was done. "Losing altitude already? I'll have to tweak that later." His right boot quickly cut out too, sending him into a freefall. Rushing past the clouds, he saw a distant speck growing bigger. "Is that the Hulk?"

The Angel, already maddened with rage and suffering a massive head injury, saw not a fallen opponent but his enemy's escape. "No, you won't get out so easily killer!" Swooping past him, the Angel gripped Iron Man by the back and aimed him like a bomb. "I'm going to splatter you across this forest!"

The Hulk looked up in time to see Iron Man being guided towards the ground by a winged man. "Don't know who that bird fella is, but I don't have the time right now." Leaping, she met the pair head on.

Knocking Iron Man free, she shielded him as they fell. Absorbing the impact, she rolled him to the side as the winged man swooped down. "Working with him? Then you are my enemy!"

The Hulk put her hands out. "Hold it. I've been in too many situations where I've been labeled the bad guy. I just want to talk."

He landed softly. His eyes darted around, unfocused and confused. "Candy, Candy's hurt. He hurt her." The pipe slipped from his fingers as he staggered away.

Trask watched the scene intently. "Blasted Stark tech! That mutant must have damaged its internals too much, the suit is useless now!" Putting the controller aside, he focused his binoculars as the large gray woman approached the Angel. "Another one? Dash it all, I'll have to return to the factory. I hope Master Mold can use what I took from Stark's little toy."

The Angel explained, or tried to, as blood suddenly flowed from his nose. She caught him before he fell. "Candy, tell Candy I'm sorry, I meant to tell her…" He suddenly sounded very small.

She was unsure what to say. "I'll tell her, don't worry." She carefully held his head up as she went back to Iron Man. "Ok, what happened?"

He slowly lifted a hand. "Losing power, not sure, lost control of suit."

Trask stopped his loading. "Hmm, perhaps I can still make some use of that fool after all." He picked the control back up and took aim.

Warning klaxons began to scream inside the armor. "Hulk, get away!" His arm went rigid as power began to surge into his repulsor. The Hulk, seeing the glowing light in his palm, quickly turned around, taking the full burnt of the blast but shielding the Angel. Slowly moving towards the blaster, she reached with a free hand and ripped the glove off his arm, crunching the metal in the process.

Another warning began to sound. "Hulk, power fading, I need," He coughed as his chest plate felt heavier. "Charger, in car…"

"Great, and that little stunt of yours just blasted the only radio I had." The welcome sound of a helicopter interrupted her. "Uncle Sam came through for once?" She briefly considered trying to preserve some modesty, but shrugged her shoulders and handed the injured Angel and Iron Man to the medics.

Trask had stayed late in his office. Sending everyone home, he sealed off the labs and stood before his masterpiece. "Master Mold!"

A large, humanoid shaped robot, it sat on a massive throne like device. "With the information I took from Iron Man, I can put it to use in my Sentinels tonight!"

A knocking at the lab door broke his train of thought. The door rattled in the frame before finally snapping free and falling. Trask dropped his notes and leapt towards his desk, pulling a pistol from a drawer. "Who's there?"

The Hulk strolled into the room, leaving footprints on the heavy iron door. "Dr. Trask?"

"You!" He fired once. The bullet flattened against her forehead and fell harmlessly to the ground. "You mutant freaks are too late! Once I power my Master Mold, nothing on Earth can shut it down!"

The Hulk smirked. Stepping off the door, she picked up the nearly half tone piece of scrap and tossed it like a discus. It sailed through the air in a masterful arch. It hit the main power lines, severing them neatly before bouncing and hitting the seated Master Mold in the chest.

It fell apart and caught fire at once. "No! You can't do that!"

The Hulk loomed over him. She casually wiped her hands on her bodysuit. "I talked to Iron Man and that kid you tried to murder. Seems you had heated words with Mr. Stark, and then you went and tried to force his bodyguard into killing two kids. Not a bright idea doc."

Trask paled but stayed defiant. Another piece of Master Mold exploded, showering the room with flame and shrapnel. "I don't care what happens to me. Someone will carry on my work. You mutants must be eradicated!"

"You finished?" She slapped him once, knocking the scientist to the floor. "You tried to kill me and my friends. I'm going to make sure that never happens again." Trask forced his head up, his eyes widening in horror.

The Hulk, ignoring the flames, picked up the broken pieces of Master Mold and began to destroy everything before her. Large computer banks were crushed under her attack, their magnetic tape unspooling into the fire.

"Stop it! Stop it!" Trask pleaded. "All my work, I couldn't rebuild!"

"That's the idea!" she dropped the pieces and picked up a large filing cabinet. With a mighty heave she tossed it across the lab into Master Mold's head. The metal screamed in protest as the weight tore the head free, sending it to the floor. Hoisting Trask up by his collar, the Hulk narrowed her eyes.

"I've been hunted and hounded by jerks like you for too long. I can handle that, but when you try to kill my friends?" Her voice dropped. "How do you think I'm going to react to that?"

Trask paled and brought his gun up. The Hulk smirked and dropped him. "That toy isn't going to hurt me pal."

Trask spat, "I know that! You think this changes anything? My work will live on, long enough to save the world from you freaks!" before he turned the gun on himself. The Hulk turned away from the body as the roof began to sag. Flames licked at the support beams. She calmly walked out of the inferno as a section of the roof collapsed, burying Trask's body under a ton of flaming rubble.

There would be reports, of course, and inquiries. "And I'll tell them the truth, right after I make sure these robot things are gone. There's enough junk in the world as is." She walked outside as the fire claimed the rest of the building. The winged kid and his girl were still laid up, but the doctors expected a recovery. "Looks like we have some new players in the field. I wonder if they're connected to those yellow and black mooks I ran into?" She mentally filed the information away as the flames hungrily licked the walls. As the lab collapsed, the Hulk stared at the burning rubble without saying a word.

The end

Sensational Lore

Things have a funny way taking detours, don't they? Anyway, this issue takes place between Avengers 2 and 3, and was based on "The New Iron Man Meets the Angel", which first appeared in Tales of Suspense I#49 (January 1964), with credits to Stan Lee (script), Steve Ditko (pencils), Paul Reinman (inks), and Sam Rosen (letters). All rights reserved

Extra special thanks to Darci for proof reading this

Next time-a surprise visit from the most unlikely of guest stars! Plus Lady Thor!

Now on to the fan mail

From Wolvmbm

How is this version of the team different from the original?

Well, you can find out by checking out the latest issue of the Avengers. Seriously though, there are going to be some differences, but hopefully in ways that will surprise you.

From They Call Me Bruce

Loved the fight scene

From Tiffani

That was kind of a trippy story, but I liked it. You did a great job.

And from Darci

Betty must be a lot more familiar with magic than I recall, because the odd environment didn't phase her at all.

Well, she's used to weirdness by this point.

And be sure to keep an eye out for the next all thrilling tales

Tales to Astonish#14-Music to Die To!

Amazing Fantasy#7-Claws of the Cat!

Journey into Mystery#17-Lady Thor meets Mr. Hyde!

The Avengers#3- the Space Phantom Strikes!