By Jim Beard
His identity nearly impenetrable and his powers nigh intangible, the industrial saboteur known as The Ghost continues to impact businessman Tony Stark where it hurts the most. Their skirmishes over the years give new meaning to the phrase "ghost in the machine."
In the early days, the Ghost seemed more a man in a high-tech costume than a true phantom; these days his existence borders on the supernatural. Iron Man's learned to take nothing for granted with his wraith-like foe, knowing full well that what you can't touch may still hurt you. Take a look at March 3's INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #23 if you don't believe us.
Let's open the door now on the haunted house of horrors that encompasses the battles between the Ghost and the Golden Avenger, Iron Man!
On the loose, The Ghost eluded the leash of his bosses, the Roxxon Corp., and headed to Stark Enterprises for some mischief. Roxxon hired Spymaster to head off their former employee and a freshly-modified Iron Man entered the fray anew-only to watch as The Ghost killed Spymaster!
In the middle of a deal with his corporate enemy Justin Hammer, Iron Man's turned into a ghost-by The Ghost! Aided by his buddy James "Rhodey" Rhodes, our hero returned to normal and entered into a temporary alliance with three super villains to bag the incorporeal criminal. Only managing to briefly corner him, Iron Man stood helpless as The Ghost spirited away and Hammer's industrial complex went ka-blooey.
Years after their last encounter, The Ghost returned to vex Stark once again, this time as an agent of Iron Man's old foes, A.I.M. Pitched battles between the two opponents ensued until ultimately The Ghost attempted to "ghost" his hand into Iron Man's chest. Therein, Tony's artificial heart defended its owner by zapping the wily saboteur unconscious.
Believing he'd finally killed Iron Man, a streamlined Ghost still concerned his new employer, the third Spymaster. The Avenger's death proved to be a ruse, of course, and crafting a clever trap for his old sparring partner, Stark actually negated his powers of intangibility. Alas, The Ghost once again slipped the noose and made off like a-ahem-ghost in the night.
Though out of action at the time, The Ghost hurt Iron Man in incalculable ways with one single, small event; promised rewards by Norman Osborn, Ghost opened Tony Stark's secret vault of Iron Man armor and allowed the former Green Goblin to craft a perversion of the Avenger and everything he stood for: The Iron Patriot.
Iron Man's brain shut down by his own hand, his friends and colleagues gathered around the former hero to try and make things right again. Unfortunately, Tony's old flame and current enemy Madame Masque hired The Ghost to eliminate Stark once and for all-and the warped wrong-doer closed in for the kill...to be continued!
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