Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Didjutal Comiks: IRON MAN #317

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 #317

June 1995

"Strange Bedfellows"

Writer: Len Kaminski

Artists: Tom Morgan (pencils & inks)

In the swank new Crimson Dynamo armour, Tony Stark (yes, Stark is the Dynamo, being assisted by Black Widow and Valentin Shatalov) races off to confront the berserk Titanium Man (Stark is wearing the armour because Shatalov wants it kept a clean fight between Russians) and try to talk him down before he kills a lot of people because he's a big green grump because there's not a Soviet Union anymore.

Shatalov tries and fails to talk down Titanium Man, who starts beating on Stark so hard I think I'm reading one of Kurt Busiek's issues. Subplots Corner makes one of two appearances this time as Force Works calls in to ask if they can be any help and keep the tension between them and Iron Man ticking over (which will ultimately come to naught, as Tony Stark will be going all Hal Jordan here in a couple issues as "The Crossing" utterly demolishes the book)

Meanwhile, the Dynamo and Titanium Man take their fight to Baikonur, because of course the best place possible to have a fight between a giant berserk lunatic in armour and a guy who's not used to the suit of armour he's flying around in is a place loaded with explosive rocket fuel.

Black Widow grabs the mic from Shatalov and tries to reach Titanium Man on a personal level, talking about her regrets about turning him into the man he is today. This does the exact opposite of calming him down, so Shatalov decides to blast Titanium Man in the face with a fusion cannon, which ends up killing him (whether or not this particular death took, I have no idea, as I think there's been like, 9 Titanium Men and like, 25 Crimson Dynamos since this story)

Stark bitches out Shatalov for using him to kill Titanium Man, but Shatalov takes the bullet, both from Stark and from the government, who reprimands him and confiscates the Crimson Dynamo armour from him. To Kaminski's credit, he really does play it out to the hilt and it's genuinely sad when he realises that he's been set up to fail.

Later, Stark enjoys a little angst (the effect of which is broken up by a two-page ad for the Sega 32X, which causes me to chuckle) and he fears he's being snuck up on, but no, it's just the Black Widow wearing her old costume and popping in for a little sexy time to cheer him up, because after a long day of punching a guy out and blasting him in the face with something as hot as the sun, what better way to unwind than a little erotic cosplay? I mean he can't drink, so a pitcher of margaritas is out . . .

Stark gets a hearty laugh out of the fact that the Titanium Man's real name was Boris (Boris Bullski, actually, a name which is as Cold War as you can get) and the Black Widow's real name is Natasha, and if you don't get the reference, please stop reading now and ask your grandparents.

Oh, and Suplots Corner sets up Kaminski's final issue as Ted Slaught, Stark's former-teacher-who-changed-his-life-but-we-ever-knew-about, who'd been showing up obviously wracked with Alzheimer's, as he emerges from an experiment gone bad as the gooey Slag, whose superpowers seem to stem from the "chrome" filter in Photoshop.

I should also mention this issue originally was a flip-book, featuring part 3 of a series with War Machine, Hawkeye, and USAgent. I didn't cover it here because well, it's part 3 of a story runing through two books I didn't read, really never amounts to much because of various things, and features them going up against Sundance, Hazzerd [sic], and Troubleshooter, and dammit, even I have standards.

So, this issue isn't that bad, really. I really did like the new Dynamo armour, but apparently no one else did, because they either made a new one or just riffed on the 1980s design whenever they brought the Dynamo back. It was kind of nice to have Iron Man return to Russia and face his prototypical Evil Commie bad guys in the wake of all the changes post Cold War and while it could have maybe used one more issue for breathing room, it's not bad all things considered.

Tom Morgan (finally the regular artist after about ten years of filling in on Iron Man here and there) doesn't do too bad, however, his style is resplendent of the style of the time with lots of extreme posing and stuff in the battles, though the talking heads bits are a little more understated.

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