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 #239
Writers: David Michelenie & Bob Layton
Artists: Jackson Guice (pencils) Bob Layton (inks)
We begin with Boomerang, Blacklash, and the new Blizzard are stalking through a factory on the hunt for the Ghost, who despite melting through a floor last time we saw him, is alive and well. The Ghost makes them look like chumps (not that that's an all-day job or anything) and declares he's going to attack Electronica Fabrizzi because that's just what all polite comic-book villains do: announce their next target in dramatic ways.
Meanwhile, we check in with Stark deep in Subplots Corner, asKathy Dare is getting ever more clingy, especially as she cockblocks Stark while he's trying to make time with Rae LaCoste. Stark goes from there back to the office and Felix Alvarez drops by for some exposition--apparently Stark is trying to acquire Electronica Fabrizzi, and they got it despite putting in a low bid. Stark reckons there's something going on, and starts having a nose around and decides to go to Rome himself.
Cut to Boomerang, Blacklash, and Blizzard going to see Justin Hammer and get a good dressing down for being pantsed by the Ghost. Stark suits up as Iron Man to fix a weld because it's page 18 and Iron Man hasn't shown up yet while the Ghost rants and shoots things, like you do.
Stark learns that Justin Hammer is behind Electronica Fabrizzi, and meets with Hammer to learn the whys and the wherefores behind all of this. Hammer's idea is that Iron Man will take care of the Ghost and offers up Donald Gill (the Blizzard) as a bargaining chip--if Hammer will leave him alone, Stark can work to rehabilitate him (I'm not sure this ever really goes anywhere) Stark stalks off after the Ghost.
Iron Man goes to Electronica Fabrizzi and encounters the Ghost, who's upgraded his bag of tricks since they first fought. Of course, so has Iron Man, so they appear to be evenly matched at first, at least until the Ghost surprises him, slaps a gizmo on Iron's Man chest turning him completely intangible. The reasoning goes like this--Iron Man, having no way to remove it or deactivate it, will starve to death, very slowly (well until page 3 of the next issue, anyhow) and the Ghost, satisfied, stalks off.
Man, remember when every issue has a cliffhanger like this? I admit--it doesn't really hold up when you're not waiting a month to see how Iron Man gets out of it, but at the time, comics were still kinda disposable reads and the intent was simply to provide a monthly thrill.
And in that respect, this mostly succeeds. The Ghost--perhaps the last enduring Iron Man villain to be created that had any enduring potential (Dark Aegis doesn't count)--returns, and he's even more maniacal than ever. The trap he devises to deal with Iron Man is rather novel and echoes the imaginative and sadistic way he offed Spymaster before the Armor Wars, and it's cool to see him back. The rest of the book is just a few subplots humming over (Kathy Dare, the Donald Gill thing that really goes nowhere) but as the first part of a two-parter . . .it ain't bad, I guess.