Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Didjutal Comiks: IRON MAN #1

Digital comics are the future of comics, so says everyone on the Internet and everyone trying to justify their purchase of an iPad and leveraging that into a desperate attempt to generate content for their blogs and stuff. It is in this spirit that the management at Witless Prattle continues the following new, exciting, weirdly specific and slightly iconoclastic feature.

Iron Man #1

February 1998

"Looking Forward"

Writer: Kurt Busiek

Artists: Sean Chen (pencils) Eric Cannon (inks)

A whole lotta infodumping frames a pic of new-look Tony Stark (who's traded in his porn 'tache for a goatee) and the new Iron Man armour which no one but me seemed to like as Iron Man flies around looking at the new community center he's built to help out after the whole Onslaught business and as soon as we've established that Stark is feeling good and Chekhov's Building is established, Iron Man's off to stop of a hostage situation. Iron Man defuses the situation pretty handily (he came too late to prevent someone getting shot that he knows but he never met, which is an effort to set up the new direction at the end of this issue) but it allows us an action scene before we cut back to . . .

. . .a big dinner party featuring cameos by damn near every supporting character in comics at the time, including Foggy Nelson and Rosalind Shape (as Paul O'Brien sagely observed, everyone in the Marvel Universe hires Nelson and Murdock) and the mingling sets up newer plots and fills in some the blanks with everything that happened during Heroes Reborn while Stark angsts and angsts about what he's going to do now.

Because it wouldn't be a first issue without a recap of Iron Man's origin, we get one of those and cut back to Stark visiting Chekhov's Building as he decides he wants to be in the thick of things rather than in some ivory tower (Man, what happened there?) and just then, he's attacked by the Death Squad, who could not look more like mid-90s Wildstorm characters (one of them's even named "Boobytrap"--I am not making this up. ) if they tried. Stark runs of and changes into Iron Man and fisticuffs ensue.

Anyways, the fights ends in a bit of a draw, as some of the Death Squad gets away and Chekhov's Building gets wracked and Stark is all frustrated and makes a decision: He's forming Stark Solutions, a consulting company that exists more as a way to provide a satisfactory storytelling engine for the book without really getting in the way of the more important plot mechanics of the book. We get a few reaction shots from various bad guys (including Midas, who I was like . . .really? They really dug him up?) and the issue ends.

Oh, we had such hopes back then. This is a pretty good start to the book that sets up a new status quo in a way that feels more logical, we get some of the requisite action sequences (including some clever uses of Iron Man's armour to prevent collateral damage) and as yet the formula of Iron Man getting is ass kicked up and down the woodpile all the time hasn't happened yet. Plus we have a swank new armour design that doesn't involve a smokestack backpack (which again, no one liked, as it soon got tweaked and then jettisoned altogether when it came alive due to the Y2K bug. Yes, they tried to walk it back, but that was just them running from the truth of their failure.) and I remember being excited as hell to read what would happen next because it had been . . .man, three years almost, since Iron Man had been a competently-written book.

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