Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Didjutal Comiks: IRON MAN #217

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 #217
April 1987

"Metamorphosis Oddity"

Writers: David Michelenie & Bob Layton
Artists: Mark Bright (Pencils) Bob Layton (inks)

In the wake of the last two issues, Stark is working on his armour, namely trying to figure out why the "chameleon effect" circuitry is screwing up his central nervous system and decides to stop using it until he can do some more research on it.

From there we move to showing off the brand-new Stark Enterprises, as Stark decides he needs a better executive secretary, and goes to the official unveiling of the new company to the press. We say hello to Marcy Pearson, who will eventually become SE's Head of Public Relations, but for now is just a news reporter with ridiculous 80's shoulderpads. Stark's impressed by her and hires her on the spot.

Meanwhile Jim Rhodes gets a package from a helicopter company (do they really deliver helicopters in big crates like that? It seems unlikely) It transpires that this is actually a booby trap, as the helicopter traps Rhodes inside, sprouts legs, and starts rampaging through the SE campus. Stark suits up as Iron Man and flies back to SE to fight the rogue helicopter.

The helicopter has a hell of a cool gimmick, as whatever Iron Man does to it, it just adapts, changes its method of attack, and keeps going until it finally bores itself into the ground and activates its self-destruct mechanism. Iron Man stands ready to blast it away (which will kill his friend in the process) but Rhodes pulls wires in a panic and ends up shutting the thing down before it could explode.

Cut to later in the day and Stark takes a call for Justin Hammer, who reveals he was the one that sent him the helicopter as a "welcome back" gift that was actually more like a warning--don't let Stark Enterprises become a problem for him like the last company did. Stark vows that if Hammer tries anything like this he's going to slap the taste out of Hammer's mouth.

This is Layton and Michelenie's third issue back, and they're briskly setting up a new status quo for the book, which is not unlike their approach in the old days--big company, large supporting cast, plenty of opportunities for plot generation, and this story is pretty much an exemplar of that in that it exists to do little more than show off the new direction of the book, put in an action sequence so Iron Man can do something, and then on to the next thing. In other words, it's a typical Marvel comic of the era.

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