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 #221
"Ghost In The Machine!"
Writer: David Michelinie & Bob Layton
Artists: Mark D. Bright (pencils) Bob Layton (inks)
We spend some quality time with The Ghost, and get some sense of his motivations--he's sworn himself to destroy Accutech and Stark, and the people from Roxxon who hired him, then sent Spymaster to kill the Ghost (the Ghost killed him by materializing him in a wall last issue, because the Ghost is just that kind of evil asshole) and helpfully reminds us of the stakes--Stark has to have Accutech turn some kind of profit or he'll lose his entire business (having grossly overextended himself to buy Accutech) and the Ghost intends to strike when it's most critical, then frame Roxxon for the sabotage.
Meanwhile, Iron Man takes down Flex, your stereotypical fitness turkey who's using those stupid bendy bars to trash a Burger King. Iron Man, surprisingly, does not defeat Flex with the "give Whopper" command, but soon deals with Flex and flies off, like me, completely speechless that anyone would not only call himself "Flex" but think he could lead anything other than a comedy sketch.
Anyways, back to Stark Enterprises, where everything's on high alert due to the threat of the Ghost. Nevertheless, Accutech's beta particle technology (which is an actual thing, believe it or not) is worth the risk to Stark, and he decides to go ahead and set a trap for the Ghost, who dutifully shows up and tries to kill everyone with homing grenades. Iron Man manages to chase them down and, realizing what the Ghost is planning to do, heads for the Beta Particle Generator.
The Ghost shows up soon after and Iron Man turns on the machine, which short-circuits the Ghost's suit and throws him back. The Ghost declares that he's dedicated his life to destroy corporations no matter the cost to him and keeps moving toward the generator until his suit overloads and he melts through the floor and the Ghost is dead . . .or IS he? (answer: No. He is absolutely not dead.) and the issue ends.
Well, the first Ghost arc ends rather satisfactorily, as we get a real sense that the Ghost is a different sort of villain than most Iron Man baddies had been up to that point--having a mad-on for corporations was novel back then, you see--and portraying him as a relentless psychopath eminently capable of stealth attacks anywhere and any time made him a bit more scary then, let's say, Titanium Man.
How much of this characterisation survives to the present I couldn't tell you, really, as I have no earthly idea why Johann Krauss is in Thunderbolts, or why he insists on calling himself The Ghost. Does Mike Mignola know about this?