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 #156
"The Mauler Mandate!"
Writers: David Micehelnie
Artists: John Romita Jr. (breakdowns) Pablo Marcos (finishes)
Scott Lang is taking inventory from a warehouse recently acquired from Edwin Cord by Stark and finds the Mauler suit. Finding it odd that it's not listed anywhere (has he checked Daredevil?) he gets knocked unconscious with a slapjack (no, really) by a guy with a stereotypical Irish accent so ridiculous Black Tom Cassidy would plotz.
Meanwhile, Stark is making time with the ladies and trying to let go after Bethany Cabe dumped him a few issues back. Stark gets Rhodey to gas up the jet so he can take his new girl to Acapulco and Yvette Avril pops in to make time with Stark, but never mind that shit--Here's Mauler! And Iron Man, soon enough. Needless to say, punches are thrown and Iron Man gets his ass temporarily flattened, only to be rescued by Rhodey hitting the Mauler with a fire hose. The Mauler acts like he knows Rhodes and flies off.
We get caught up on the purpose of this in the next scene--Ridiculous Irish Guy is actually Brendan Doyle, who's been hired by Cord to snag the Mauler suit and also a tape implicating him in the Mauler's construction. Cord plans to accrue money after he gets out of jail by "renting" the Mauler out to the highest bidder. Doyle vows to do the job he was paid for and decides to go after Rhodes.
Rhodes gets bullied into smuggling the Mauler through Stark International's security and Stark, having twigged something's wrong, suits up as Iron Man and it's Iron Man vs. Mauler round 2. Meanwhile, Rhodey gets the tape transmitted to every Stark International branch, thus ensuring that there's no possible way the Mauler could destroy all of them. Having been fought to standstill, the Mauler declares the debt he owed Rhodes paid and flies off, resolving to freelance from now on.
Yes, well, the Mauler. The Iron Man villain that somehow ended up in Frank Miller's Daredevil before he got over to Iron Man. There's not much to him, really--and I think the next time he's used is during the Armour Wars, where he just hands over the Mauler suit to Iron Man without a fight (barring the time in a later Iron Man Annual when Rhodes wears the Mauler suit and declares that whoever designed it "had the I.Q. of lawn furniture"--take that, Frank) and is generally a footnote in Iron Man's history. I should add the idea of "Mercenary who knows Jim Rhodes meets up with him later and leaves a battle because he owes Rhodes" gets used almost exactly about 17 years later when the bad guy War Machine shows up.
There's not much to say about this issue, really--Bob Layton's already left to do his first Hercules mini-series (man, does anyone remember that apart from me?) and Michelnie's doing a few bits and bobs before handing the book over to Denny O'Neil, so this is an odd sort of coda. I should also add that the art team of John Romita Jr. and Pablo Marcos together give the book a softer, almost Gene Colan-esque style this issue, which places it even further out of the Layton/Michelinie "style" we'd come to expect.