Friday, July 15, 2011

Didjutal Comiks: IRON MAN #203

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 #203
February 1986

"The Maze"

Writers: Denny O'Neil
Artists: Mark Bright (pencils) Akin & Garvey (inks)

We begin with some fallout from pre-issue #200, when Obadiah Stane order Dr. Atlanta to swap Madame Masque's brain with Bethany Cabe's to have a weapon of retribution against Stark in case Stane should, I don't know, blow his head off whilst using a repulsor ray as a Q-tip. This will be important later. I would also like to remind you that water is wet, fire is hot, and to keep breathing.

Stark flies in as Iron Man to pick up Bethany Masque, who does a good job of looking normal by looking really scrunched up and sinister in every single close-up. Stark flies her to his rental property and Bethany Masque entices him to remove his armour so she can shoot when when Cly Erwin comes in to remind us about her brother dying and how pissed off she is about it (and at Iron Man (sorta) and to drop in some exposition about Stark's fortune, which was frozen by Stane back when he broke his ass down--figuratively and literally.

Because nothing can ever be easy in comics it involves computer codes, a ticking clock, and some opposition called Ermarks. Not ERMAC, obviously, because the Ultimate Kombat Kode for him won't be thought of for about ten years or so.

Bethany Masque is getting a bit pissed that this fucking Erwin woman won't shut her fucking mouth so she can get on with the business of shooting Tony Stark. Really--she acts the whole time like she's desperate for a piss and the next rest area is 80 miles up the road. Stark flies off to go see Hank Pym (I'll explain that in a bit)

In the meantime Madame Cabe has escaped and hijacks a plane. You see where this is going, but then, you knew that as soon as you looked at the cover.

Back to Iron Man and Hank Pym and Denny O'Neil deciding to take the most literal possible way to regain his fortune from the computer as possible--he shrinks himself down and he flies around in the computer and encounters the Ermarks, which are space-shippy things because in 1986, really no one quite knew what "firewall" meant except auto mechanics.

Meanwhile, Madame Cabe is on her way to meet Tony Stark, hopefully after he gets over his shrinkage. He ultimately finds his fortune and everything's going swimmingly, when he gets home, starts shucking his armour and--awp--wouldn't you know it, Bethany Masque is holding her gun on him with an expression that says "fucking FINALLY!"

But just then, Madame Cabe shows up for one hell of a cliffhanger and yes, this damn well is going to be dragged out for another issue.

It's interesting that while #200 closed the book on Obadiah Stane, O'Neil takes the time to deal with the fallout, namely in terms of the loss of Stark's fortune and regaining it. The brain switching stuff Stane pulls is actually a blind to transition into the AIM plot that will start up soon after, and so this issue is a transition and as such, feels a bit thin on plot (and the damn "shrinking someone down enough to put them physically in a computer is all sorts of fucking silly) but is serviceable enough as yet another installment in an ever evolving continuing narrative.

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