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 #289
"The Light At The End"
Artists: Tom Morgan (pencils) Brad Vancata (inks)
The Living Laser is back and he's pissed off, ready to kill someone. Jim Rhodes, in a rather darkly humourous little bit, acts like the whole thing's no big deal--The Laser's here to kill Tony Stark and Rhodes shrugs his shoulders and says "well, you missed your shot there, dude's dead." The Laser is a bit taken aback by this (apparently not quite understanding how death works in these here funnybooks) because he had this whole master plan to screw with people's heads by pretending to be Stark and now it's all shot to hell.
But he tries to make lemonade by saying "OK, if Stark's dead, then I'll kill Iron Man." Rhodes shrugs his shoulders and says "I fired his ass, because he was one of the old guard and I wanted people loyal to me." And to further confound the Laser, Rhodes offers him a job to keep him on the back foot until he they finish the silver coating on his armour.
This naturally leads to a fight, withe the Leaser steadily losing his shit and Rhodes fighting back with the twin advantages of the War Machine suit and a strategically deployed "yo' momma" snap, and kicks the Laser into a wide-beam communications laser aimed at the Andromeda Galaxy. The Laser excoriates Rhodes for being so cruel to dangle the possibility of a new life at him and then punt him into another galaxy.
Rhodes takes that pretty hard, and who can blame him. In the wake of the battle, he goes over to Rae LaCoste and angsts about it for a couple pages while we wander over to Subplots Corner where Morgan Stark is talking to a Japanese guy about some eeeeevil plan they're cooking up that starts paying off next issue.
Later on Rhodes is finally let in on the secret--Stark's not dead, he's simply pining for the fjords. Rhodes takes this as well as you might imagine--namely he gets seriously pissed off and quits SE. This particular fissure will last through a healthy portion of the next twenty issues or so as Kaminski tries to give War Machine his own identity and more easily spin him off from the main book.
So, this isn't a bad issue at all, really. The fight with the Laser has a bit more at stake than the usual slugfest and the resolution is actually pretty novel. It's also to Rhodes' credit as a character that he's not exactly happy with what he's done--and is absolutely enraged by Stark's whole "death" charade.
But the whole "death" thing really doesn't work as leverage to divide Stark and Rhodes, and it the longer Rhodes stays pissed off, the more it seems a little forced and frankly, Rhodes comes off as an asshole. Thankfully, we'll get this tied up in "Hands of the Mandarin" (only good thing to come out of that, really) but for now, expect a the following scene to happen a lot: Stark tries to apologise, Rhodes tells him to piss up a rope and leave him alone. It happens a lot from here on in.
Tom Morgan does a guest stint here, continuing the longest running audition for a spot on the regular book in history (seriously, he'd been drawing it off and on for like, ten years or so by now) and acquits himself well. He does shiny stuff very well, and manages to keep John Romita Jr.'s Living Laser design and integrate it well into the mood of the book.