David Michelinie and Bob Layton created Bethany Cabe for the story in Iron Man vol 1 #117 (12/1978). Michelinie wrote the script, John Romita, Jr penciled the art and Layton inked the art.
Years before she became a security specialist and bodyguard, Bethany Cabe married Alexander van Tilberg. The West German government named van Tilberg as its junior ambassador to the United States shortly before the marriage. Cabe didn't have a career at the time or aspirations to have a job. Happy at first in the initial months of the marriage, Cabe later believed that van Tilberg placed his career ahead of her and considered her a trophy wife to impress his diplomatic colleagues.
Van Tilberg became dependent on pills and angrily refused to discuss the situation with Cabe. She left him as he appeared to be ruining his life and refused any help. A month later, van Tilberg apparently died in a car accident and Cabe felt guilty about it. She considered that the accident may have been a result of drug use and that she could have saved him had she stayed with him. Then, Cabe resolved never to be dependent on anyone again on any level.
Cabe studied with different types of police officers and professional street fighters and became a highly specialized bodyguard. She became one of the world's most respected and well paid bodyguards for diplomats, royalty and socialites. Cabe and Ling McPherson, Cabe's best friend and another bodyguard, owned a firm called Cabe & McPherson, Security Specialists.
Bethany Cabe met Tony Stark at a reception at the Carnelian embassy in New York City. Stark wanted to make a public appearance to attract the attention of the first Spymaster who attempted to assassinate him. There was an attraction between Cabe and Stark as well that night. After Stark, as Iron Man, successfully captured Spymaster, Cabe and Stark become involved in a long term romantic relationship. They eventually ended their romantic ties but remained close, personal friends. They would become romantically involved on and off again over the years but usually maintained their close friendship. Cabe also became friends with James Rhodes (War Machine), Stark's best friend, during this time. After disappearing from Stark's life for a few years, Cabe returned with War Machine to fight injustice around the world. Cabe later acquired her own War Machine Armor.
Major Story Arcs
Bethany Cabe became a significant part of Tony Stark's life in the Demon in a Bottle story arc. A conflict occurred between Cabe and Stark when she viewed Iron Man as a glory hound. After Iron Man defeated the Melter, the first Blizzard and Whiplash with Cabe's timely assistance, she criticized him for fighting super-villains when he should be donig his job which was to protect Stark. The conflict between the two worsened when Iron Man was framed for murder by Justin Hammer. Despite defeating Hammer and clearing himself of the murder charges, Iron Man succumbed to his deadliest enemy in alcoholism. After his recent troubles, Stark engaged in binge drinking and alienated those close to him such as Cabe and Edwin Jarvis.
Stark eventually asked for help from Cabe and Jarvis and successfully recovered from this addiction when he admitted to being an alcoholic. Cabe and Stark grew closer together after these events and formed a strong bond between the two of them. A few months later, an ex-lover from Stark's past, Madame Masque, kidnapped Cabe. After Iron Man and Jim Rhodes located Madame Masque's Maggia headquarters, they rescued Cabe and battled a squad of updated Dreadnoughts.
Cabe and Madame Masque also had a discussion that confirmed Cabe's suspicion that Stark was, in fact, Iron Man. She doesn't tell Iron Man that she knew he was Stark. After all this excitement, Stark decided to take a safe, relaxing vacation in the Caribbean with Cabe, McPherson and Rhodes. The vacation was cut short on Stark's yacht when they were hijacked by a group of hi-tech pirates led by Force and organized by Justin Hammer.
Hammer had been running a hijacking operation on the open sea. Stark changed into his armor while Force and his men were occupied with the others. While Iron Man defeated Force's men, Force was able to escape with the yacht and the others as his prisoners. Force brought them to Hammer at a huge submarine but Iron Man was able to track Force. He defeated Hammer and Force and severely damaged the submarine. Iron Man was able to rescue the others, but Hammer and Force managed to elude capture.
After returning home, Cabe learned that van Tilberg was still alive and a prisoner at an East German security complex. Cabe made plans to rescue him without telling Stark. Cabe left for East Germany disappearing from Stark's life for the next few months. Cabe had allowed herself to be arrested in East Germany for espionage as part of her breakout plan for van Tilburg. Cabe's plan seemed to be working when she was sent to the same security complex that held her husband.
Stark learned about Cabe's arrest for espionage and went to McPherson to learn the reasons behind this shocking news. McPherson explained to Stark about Cabe wanting to rescue her husband, but had no details to the actual plan. Iron Man made his own plan using his latest stealth armor to infiltrate East Germany and the security complex to rescue Cabe. While Cabe had found van Tilberg, Iron Man took off his stealth armor and disguised himself as a guard. While he was able to find Cabe and van Tilberg, alarms had been raised warning of a breach in security.
Cabe told Stark she knew that he was Iron Man and he needed to change into his armor. Cabe had a helicopter waiting for them, but Iron Man was attacked from behind as Cabe and van Tilberg took flight. Iron Man's assailant was the Living Laser, who made a deal with the Germans that involved guarding the security complex. Iron Man was able to survive by throwing the Living Laser when his energy form goes critical and explodes in the upper atmosphere.
After Cabe and Stark were back in the U.S., Cabe told Stark that she would be staying with van Tilberg to help him recover from being a prisoner. Years later, van Tilberg was popping pills again, lost his job and ruined his career. After van Tilberg refused Cabe's help again, she decided to go to Stark, hoping he could help van Tilburg fight this addiction. Before Cabe could get to Stark, she was kidnapped by Obadiah Stane who had Dr Theron Atlanta use his mind transfer technology on Cabe and Madame Masque.
Madam Masque and Stane allied with each other in a plan to kill Stark. Madam Masque in Cabe's body would kill Stark but Cabe in Madam Masque's body prevented the assassination. Iron Man then took Cabe and Madam Masque to Dr Atlanta's mind transfer machine and restored the minds of the two women to their rightful bodies. Although Cabe still had feelings for Stark, she felt obligated to return to van Tilberg. Upon her return to Germany, Cabe decided that van Tilberg would be a hopeless cause and would continue to refuse her help.
Cabe decided to divorce van Tilberg but he had been murdered by drug dealers. Cabe was able to locate van Tilberg's killers and had them arrested by the police. Years later, Cabe was contacted by Jim Rhodes as War Machine who was recruiting close friends of Stark to help fight Ultimo. After Ultimo was defeated by Iron Man himself, Rhodes resigned as Stark's head of security. Stark then offered the position to Cabe who accepted to fill the role. At some point, Cabe disappeared around the same time as an Avengers event known as The Crossing. Cabe reappeared years later with War Machine in battle against the inhumane terrors of the world.