Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Didjutal Comiks: IRON MAN #149

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 #149
August 1981


Writers: David Michelenie & Bob Layton
Artists: John Romita Jr. (Pencils) Bob Layton (inks)

Oh wow, I just heard on the radio that Blue Oyster Cult is headlining a baby food festival. Helpless babies on picnic blankets scream bug-eyed as they wait for "Burnin' For You," I guess.

Oh wait, this thing--sorry, was distracted. This is, as you might have guessed, tied in to our recent wanderings with Iron Man and Dr. Doom that tend to come with these sorts of anniversary issues. We open with a big fight between ships and a helicopter and a lot of narration to get us up to speed. Apparently a ship is being hijacked, or was until Iron Man shows up to throw down on some fools. It takes a page and change, and Iron Man, acting on behalf of Tony Stark, orders the ship to turn around and return to port.

Iron Man flies off to change back to Tony Stark, which gives us some time to catch up on the various subplots working their way through the book--Blacklash setting fire to Stark International, Bethany Cabe off in East Germany (back when that was a thing) and we hop to the point of the thing with the ship--apparently it was full of electronic components being shipped to Latveria, a non-existent but real-sounding country that as we all know is the home to one Dr. Doom. Of course, at the present time Doom is deposed and replaced with an apparently benevolent ruler, but Stark sees through that shit right away.

Speaking of the good doctor, he's busily kibitzing with a sorcerer and they do some business that, once concluded, allows Doom to hop on the time cube and return to the present for some exposition. Doom's assistant, Hauptmann, is the brother of a character killed pre-Fantastic Four #100 who works for Doom out of fear and a desire to bide his time for vengeance. He explains to Doom that the shipment of electronics from SI is delayed and Doom handles it with the equanimity we've come to expect from him--by threatening Hauptmann and going after Iron Man with a ridiculous submarine tank. This is what they call in the psychiatric line "projection."

Ridiculous though it may be, it manages to kick Iron Man's ass and give them time to steal some of the stuff . . .and drag it through the ocean? Oh, wait, no, it can fly too. Yeah, dumping electronics in seawater would be stupid. Iron Man flies after them, but they get away and Iron Man vows to chase after them.

Stark flies over to Latveria because the book's halfway over and we gotta get a move on. The government in power gives him all the info needed to find Doom and move about the country because they figure he's going to try something and really, it would be better for everyone if Iron Man would take him down.

And take him down Iron Man shall . . er, try to. Iron Man meets with Doom, who tells him he doesn't talk to errand boys, but luckily, he will damn sure fight with one. He busts out the molecular expander (man, that move was so useful in Marvel vs Capcom 2, wasn't it?) and Iron Man returns fire and they fight and fight and fight and fight and fight, when just on the last page they end up on the time cube, which Hauptmann activates, then smashes, declaring he got his revenge because they're trapped in the past forever.

"Forever," of course, meaning "One double-sized issue."

As happened a hundred issues later, the Doom/Iron Man fight is teased in the issue leading up to the big anniversary, and paid off in the next. It ain't half bad, featuring as it does a hell of a lot of action, the beginning of Dr. Doom constantly punching holes in Iron Man's boat by calling him "errand boy," and a subplot with Brother of Background Character Who Died That One Time which, if you care about such things, probably provides you some sort of thematic closure. It's pure set-up, but good set-up, and so, why not?


C. Elam said...

Dammit, you made me look it up. There is a National Baby Food Festival site. Apparently, one of the events is an "Adult Baby Food Eating Contest".

...I sure hope that gig pays well.

Anyway, I am loving the Iron Man reviews. My sure-to-be-unfilled wish is that after you finish the runs you like, you start reviewing Mantlo's run. Because yeah, Jack of Hearts was the breakout character, man!

Of course, I dunno if your blood pressure could stand reviewing Mantlo's Iron Man stories.

Kazekage said...

Yeah, I'm not really sure how to feel about it, because if I were recruiting bands to play a baby food festival . . .well, nothing personal, but BOC wouldn't be on my list.

Thanks, man! Glad you're liking them! I haven't decided yet what will happen when I've finally reviewed every issue in this cache, but I'm sure I'll come up with something.

Well, The Crossing/Teen Tony run is utterly incompetent, Frank Tieri's run is head-explodingly stupid, and Mantlo's run is generally just mediocre. Of the three, he's most likely, because he's the path of least resistance.