Monday, May 30, 2011

Didjutal Comiks: IRON MAN #208

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 #208
July 1986


Writer: Denny O'Neil
Artists: Mark Bright (pencils) Akin & Garvey (inks)

Iron Man has determined, in the wake of AIM suckering him into putting a killer satellite into orbit, to go to the non-existent but real sounding country they took over (Boca Caliente) and wreck some beekeeper-suited shit.

Over in Subplots Corner, Bethany Cabe is haranguing her druggie husband and telling him she's having divorce paper's drawn up in a subplot which will be aborted, but not before he's killed off and this whole loose thread is snipped.

Oh hey, an ad for one of those watches that transformed into a robot! Holy shit, I forgot how many of those I bought, much like how I forgot the exact moment I realised those goddamn things were about as far from "cool" as you can get.

Sorry for the digression--Iron Man flies to Boca Caliente using his invisio-power thingy and runs into AIM driving people out of their village so they can recruit them for slave labour. This is appalling enough, of course, but Iron Man's even more worried about the nuclear missile launchers AIM has tucked underground.

As arms control is a bit over his head, Iron Man goes to Washington, and meets with the same stereotypical senator guy that shows up in these comics all the time (seriously, he even has a cigar) Senator Bedfellow says the US Government will do absolutely nothing, and Iron Man shouldn't go meddling either, and if you think this will in any way dissuade Iron Man from taking out the missiles, then your naivete sickens me.

Back to Subplots Corner, wherein Bethany's meeting with a midget for advice of a good divorce lawyer and exposits some more about Boca Caliente, namely that Alfredo Pechter, Boca Caliente's former president, is going to break in to the launch facility and fire the missiles at the US. His expository responsibilities completed, he's naturally shot and killed and Bethany returns fire and interrogates the guy, but he doesn't have anything to do with Boca Caliente (god DAMN I'm getting tired of typing that) which means it still counts as a subplot and can stay in the corner with Baby.

Speaking of subplots, Cly shows up and tells Stark and Rhodes that she's going to reject a job watching for Halley's Comet (ah, 1986.) and stay on with Stark and Rhodes, which would mean something if she weren't going to be largely ignored for the next eight issues and then killed off when Layton and Michelinie try to pick up the pieces of the whole AIM thing.

Anyways, just then, Bethany Cable calls Stark and passes on the exposition, and Iron Man zooms off because this is page 12 and that missile attack the cover promised us has been taking its damn sweet time getting here. Pechter breaks in with knockout gas and a handgun (which shows you that for all AIM's brilliance, their security is apparently a goddamned joke) and infiltrates the launch site while Iron Man hashes it out with Senator Bedfellow, who says he still can't go. Iron Man tells him to eat a dick and breaks his window and does anyway. Iron Man's good enough to angst about all this--in principle, the senator's right--the law is the law--but Stark feels responsible and an Iron Man's gotta do what an Iron Man's gotta do.

Finally, the missiles launch, and being that they're only three of them (very much like the end of After Burner Climax) it's up to Iron Man to stop them without triggering their warheads, which he manages to do, even though I kinda wonder if it's as easy as all that. But then, this issue has shown us that AIM can be brought to its knees with some gas and a pistol, so the notion that they have only 3 nuclear missiles and they're all duds is not as shocking as it would be otherwise.

Later, at his space station, Iron Man laments that while he may have saved the day this time, AIM is still in charge of Boca Caliente and that even though he's on the verge of opening up a new venue in space exploration, he hopes the madmen, tyrants, and bureaucrats from coming along. Oh Iron Man, you might as well have a gingerbread house in the Land of Make-Believe.

This is Denny O'Neil's last issue on the book, as he was busy getting fired because John Byrne raised a stink about how he was editing Hulk in a juicy bit of dirty laundry that Jim Shooter recently recounted on his blog. I should of course credit O'Niel for an amazingly tightly plotted an expansive storyline that spanned thirty issues and three years of the book and holds together very well.

I should also hand out a demerit because this AIM storyline was DOA from the beginning, just a muddled mess that dragged on for six issues (or so) and made barely any sense at all. The one good idea in it (AIM taking over an entire country to use as a power base, a plot point that stuck around for quite awhile) is subsumed under a lot of other stuff, namely the woeful Yorgon Tykkio, who O'Neil tried so hard to sell us on as a Bad Motherfucker, but just fizzled on the page, frankly.

However, for even that misstep, the pre #200 issues are a strong run to stand with the definitive runs on the book--er, all 4-5 of them, depending on whether you count Layton and Michelnie's 2 runs as 1 run or 2 separate runs. The book slides into fill-in mode from here until #215, when Layton and Michelenie will return, tie up the AIM plot a bit, and reposition Stark from being in the space business to something else, and return to form on the book.


C. Elam said...

I wanted to tell you thanks for mentioning the bit about Shooter's blog, because reading that suddenly made a lot of things I never understood much clearer. I read Byrne's Hulk run, and they were clearly setting up that splash page issue in his last, so I never got why it got shunted over to Marvel Fanfare. Heck, it even has a Scourge appearance!

I know it is fashionable to consider Jim Shooter an ogre, but honestly, I think his version is closer to objective reality than Denny's.

Kazekage said...

I was quite surprised by it myself, because I had always wondered why O'Neil's Iron Man run kinda fizzled and Shooter's blog pretty much answered that question.

I do remember that issue. Poor Hammer and Anvil. Defiant Ones to the last. :)