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 #250
Writers: David Michelenie & Bob Layton
Artists: Bob Layton (Pencils) Bob Layton (inks)
Iron Man and Dr. Doom fall through the time tunnel and we follow the panel progression from Iron Man #150 almost exactly. Soon enough, Merlin shows up, explaining that he set up the whole business with the McGuffin from last issue to bring them here. Merlin puts Doom in his place and Iron Man moans about how much he hates magic and we meet Kid King Arthur--yes, England's champion has returned and unfortunately, he's still in short pants. Iron Man thinks this is nuts, but Kid Arthur has some info only King Arthur or someone who read #150 would know and Iron Man's in.
We finally get some plot going, and learn that a group named A.S. Industries has put a bunch of kill-sats in orbit that were supposed to be decommissioned, but have been taken over by a "dark power" and may be used against Earth. Doom says he's not down for this, and leaves, Iron Man goes to Radio Shack to get some stuff to go into space, and sees one of the kill-sats zapping a city and killing everyone. He moves to stop it, but encounters Andros Stark, wearing the armour of Iron Man 2020, who kicks Iron Man's ass up and down the woodpile and sends him tumbling back to Earth.
Meanwhile, Doom tries to make his time cube thing work, and it doesn't because of Merlin. Andros flies off to meet his co-conspirator, who is a fully robotic Dr. Doom (of the future!) and they scheme a bit. Apparently FutureDoom is going to use the kill-sats to sweep the planet and kill everyone who might defy him. He needs Andros, but naturally this alliance has "gonna kill this chump at the first opportunity" written all over it.
With no way back, Doom throws in his lot with Merlin and Iron Man, and Iron Man gets Excalibur and flies back to the kill-sat. Doom flies off because he knows where to go. With Excalibur, Iron Man is able to make short work of the kill-sat and Andros while Doom encounters FutureDoom, and is utterly appalled by the state of himself in the future, not just the fact that he's almost entirely a robot, but also that FutureDoom is really half-assing his anti-personnel measures. Doom declares FutureDoom not worthy to rule and blasts FutureDoom away, declaring however bad things are, he won't ever become that.
With the crisis over with, it's time for the wrap-up. Merlin sends them back just as Dr. Doom reveals he's been reading some history in this time and reveals he knows Iron Man is Tony Stark. Stark says something that unmistakably like "FUCKING REGISTRATION AAAAAAAAACCTT!" and they end up back in the present day. Their memory of their time in the future wiped clean, they part in confusion, certainly vowing to do this kind of thing again at some point in the future.
The end of Layton and Michelenie's second run is a homage to issue #150, and while John Romita Jr. pencils are missed this time, it's great to see Iron Man and Dr. Doom playing off each other (they have very good chemistry) and each getting to do some cool stuff. The moment where Doom confronts FutureDoom is a great character moment, which is something you rarely get from Doom outside of the odd Fantastic Four issue, and Iron Man vs. Iron Man 2020 (kinda) is one of those things you can't imagine why they didn't do sooner. The whole thing hums along rather well and has a great sense of fun to it.
Of course, with Legacy of Doom stuck between the two stories, things become a bit strained in terms of continuity, but we covered that before, and well, it doesn't detract from how much fun this issue is. From here on in, we're thrown to the wolves with a ton of fill-ins, several attempts by Bob Layton to start his solo run on the book before he just says "fuck it," and goes over to Valiant, then John Byrne's run, about which the less said the better. For all intents and purposes, really the book's not going to be all that readable or enjoyable until about #280 when Len Kaminski's run starts, which means there are three years of rather bolshy comics yet to come.