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 #9
"Field of Honor"
Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Sean Chen (pencils) Eric Cannon & Sean Parsons (inks)
Soon after having the holy hell beat out of him by the Espionage Elite, the Black Widow has to fibrillate Tony Stark who immediately thunders off after the Mandarin. We're given a brief recap of the Iron Man/Mandarin feud in all its mendacious glory and I continue not to give a crap about the Mandarin, the Racial Stereotype That Walks Like A Man.
Over in Subplots Corner, Happy is beating himself up because the Stark offices got bugged on his watch and I find myself wondering why they didn't kill him off sooner, as damn near every time he's been brought back he's been made to look more and more like a sad sack and a loser because heaven forbid Tony Stark and Pepper Potts not be shoved together.
Anyways, the Mandarin is in Russia for some reason, so Iron Man runs across the Winter Guard, or this month's version of the Soviet Super Soldiers and much is made over the fact that Russia has moved past it's "evil commie" days (the Red Guardian is now the Steel Guardian, for instance) And yet Vanguard is right there, now a loyal member of the Communist Party even though he hadn't been the last time we saw him. I could complain about this, but being as this is a Mandarin story, I really want it to be over with as soon as possible.
Anyways, after the Winter Guard decides not to help out, Iron Man discovers that the Mandarin has nicked Serpentera from Lord Zedd and this being Kurt Busiek's Iron Man, he rapidly gets his ass kicked. Yes, again. Then Serpentera eats him and the Mandarin hits him with a mallet, knocking him out and saying "wow, I didn't think it would be this easy," which makes me think he didn't read the credits for this issue.
In case it wasn't obvious, I really do hate the Mandarin and every attempt that modern comic writers make to bring him back and make him "relevant" just hammers home what an awful awful Yellow Peril stereotype he really is. What is he supposed to be now? Kim Jong Il? I keep hoping sanity will break out and people will just stop trying and maybe logically try to create a new Iron Man arch-nemesis who isn't a grotesque caricature, but then I remember this is comics, and that will never happen barring some interesting cataclysm.
Also, as much as Busiek's run has great luster consider what a hot tranny mess the book was before and after it, there is way way way too much of Iron Man continually getting the shit kicked out of him--it bookends this issue, I think--and then compounding the error by going after the Mandarin while he's coughing up blood. I have no problem with this generally, as powering through the pain typically proves one a hero and all that. But it's a major stretch to expect that from a person who is smart enough to create a suit of armour that allows him to fly and shoot replusors at people. I would not even expect it from someone smart enough to say, put on a pair of pants correctly or tie their shoes.
My criticism of the general arc of the book aside, Sean Chen continues to be a fantastic Iron Man artist, and the Power Rangers fan in me quite liked the appearance of Serpentera, though I do wish Iron Man was fighting Lord Zedd.