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 #243
Writers: David Michelenie & Bob Layton
Artists: Barry Windsor-Smith (pencils) Bob Layton (inks)
Tony Stark is being rushed to the emergency room after being shot by Kathy Dare last issue, while doctors surrounding him fret over the notion that they're going to lose him (Hey man, you just got him in the hospital for Christ's sake! A little positivity wouldn't hurt in this situation) and Jim Rhodes is handling it about as well as you might imagine--on a short fuse and ready to smack the hell out of any reporters who get too nosy.
Meanwhile,the new breathlessly fills in the larger story or those of you who didn't read last issue and the larger story--Kathy Dare is arrested and meets up with Bert Hindel, former head of Stark Enterprises' legal dept. Having been fired for making a pig's ear of the litigation for the Armor Wars, he's now looking for revenge and a six-figure book deal, in a scene that would seem really venal and cliched if this kind of thing didn't happen all the time.
Rhodes reacts to this by kicking in the television set and Mrs. Arbogast tells him to fucking get ahold of himself and then further enhances her "awesome" credentials by fighting off a photographer with a squeegee (making her the most successful squeegee wielding combatant ever, besides Sid Eudy. Yes, that's probably the most obscure reference ever in didjutal comiks history) The new ripples outward as Scott Lang reacts to it and of course, mentions he's Ant-Man.
But not all his friends are sitting and pacing the floor. Rae LaCoste has flown in a very high quality surgeon, Dr. Ingwe, who hopefully will keep Stark from dying. In the meantime, Marcy Pearson is made acting head of Stark Enterprises and acts like a real bitch about it, and Rhodes isn't best pleased, and really, who can blame him. Continuing the slow rollout of the news among everyone, Justin Hammer hopes Stark croaks (of course,) Tigra shows up to send him some flowers and ruminate about their history.
We cut back to a news story on Nightline that gives us an opportunity to recap Iron Man's origin and the high and low points of his history and we fill in more about Kathy Dare, namely that there's a high probability that she's tried to kill other people before. Then we go from there to the Today show where Dr. Ingwe announces they've kept Tony Stark alive, but he will never walk again ("never again" meaning "five issues and an annual")
This issue is a little unfocused, but I think it's more a matter of intent than accident. The intention is to give a very fractured you-are-there quality to the proceedings and make it feel . . .well, a lot like when we see major shit happen on the news and we try to fill in bits and pieces as they come. In any event, it's basically an issue to set up the new status quo for a little while and make sure people know there are Serious Consequences (well, before editorial pulled the plug) and as such it's not a very action-heavy issue, but given how many stories kept spinning out of him being shot, it's sort of essential reading just for all that spun out of it.
Barry Windsor-Smith pops in for another guest stint as penciller, making this feel even more like a proto-Valiant issue than usual. It's not bad, but given that BWS's style was so illustrative by this point, and this is a very kind of middle of the road issue where there's no action, there's not much that's interesting for him to draw. All the Iron Man stuff kicks back in in next issue's mildly befuddling double-sized issue. However, this is another solid installment of a continuing narrative, and keeps the story humming along well enough.