Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Didjutal Comiks: IRON MAN #11

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, exciting, weirdly specific and slightly iconoclastic feature.

Iron Man #11
December 1998

"Schedule Conflicts"

Writer: Kurt Busiek
Artists: Sean Chen (pencils) Eric Cannon (inks)

Sorry--I wanted to start with a #1 in light of recent events, but I'd already done it, and my V-neck hasn't arrived from Jim Lee yet.

I could have probably skipped the credits--if Iron Man's getting his ass kicked in his dreams, you can probably guess. Anyways, in the wake of the battle with the Mandarin, Tony returns to his new house to confer with Jane Foster who goes over the fact that Stark should be be in a hospital, as his recent string of ass-kickings has caused multiple entries. I should also add here that water is wet and fire is hot. The practical upshot of this is that he's healing too slowly (the reasons for it will become clear next issue) and he's ordered to reduce his stress and allow himself time to heal. He's got a meeting at a company called Astrodyne, but it's just a meeting, and really, what's the worst that could happen.

Meanwhile, Sunset Bain is testing her company's new Good-n-Plenty shooting cannon and takes a call from a man named Clarke and she tells him and his partner to get ready to arrange a hole in Tony Stark's schedule.

Let's check in at Subplots Corner, wherein Warbird gets a job as a writer for a tech magazine and shops her novel around (did this ever go anywhere?) and spotting Stark out of the corner of her eye and goes out to yell at him so this plot can spin its wheels yet again. Thankfully, it only lasts 2 pages and then we're back on to the other subplots--Tony finds another dead Madame Masque. We get a flashback to their history together and before we can get more distracted, Stark gets a call that Astrodyne is under attack and he suits up as Iron Man to get is ass flattened--I mean, go find out what's going on. Oh, and Happy Hogan mopes because Pepper's more interested in Tony than him. God knows why I should care.

So, hey! It's War Machine vs. Iron Man! Iron Man, owing to his injuries (right) gets his ass beaten by War Machine, just in time for Warbird to show up and get an ultimatum--either let War Machine finish wrecking the plant, or he'll hurl Iron Man to his death.

You can find out what happened by reading the next issue, reviewed right here.

As much as I like the idea of War Machine as Iron Man's nemesis, which I will give Busiek all credit for--it's a good damn idea--the rest of this issue is choked with a bunch of subplots that just don't work. The problem with Stark accumulated injuries is that it's basically established a pattern in the book that Iron Man will always get his ass kicked. Of course, he always wins despite this, the problem is that the point where he's beaten down (or, to use a wrestling term, "Playing Ricky Morton") lasts WAY longer than the rally from the brink of defeat and so the book just feels like "Iron Man gets his ass kicked by everyone all the time," and if the book's character is constantly being jobbed out like this . . .one begins to wonder why they bother reading it?

I've complained about the Madame Masque subplot before, and I won't repeat that here--it's another subplot that gets wrapped up somewhere else. Speaking of non-functional subplots--Warbird is in full bitch mode here, and while we're supposed to feel bad about her alcoholism, which she's in denial about, we really don't. The reason Denny O'Neil's run with Stark drinking himself to death, is that we saw the psychological breaking point behind it--they story wasn't about him drinking, the story was about him trying to commit suicide by drinking. We get no real genuine moment where Warbird is suffering, so it just seems like she's just being a real bitch and supposedly drinking a lot.

Oh, and having read them, I don't see why Pepper Potts is so damn important, unless one thinks just because she was in the book a long time ago, it automatically follows that she must be in the book for all time or she's Stark's One True Love or whatever, which doesn't work at all because it's an argument based on a bunch of informed attributes about why she's so wonderful, because it's definitely more told than shown.

So this isn't a complete well of negativity (Y'know, for once) I should add that Sean Chen and Eric Cannon do a great job with the art, giving Iron Man his usual slick high-tech sheen and giving War Machine a gritty finish to better contrast the two of them (double points for actually drawing the original WM armour, which is full of all sorts of fiddly details) and for making the action in the fight have some real force to it--I don't know how to explain it other than Chen really makes two armoured guys punching it out have a real heft to it.

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