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 #286
"Dust To Dust"
Writers: Len Kaminski
Artists: Kevin Hopgood (Pencils) Mike DeCarlo (inks)
I the wake of Stark's funeral and the fight with Hammer's typical goon squad last issue, Iron Man (Jim Rhodes) is having his first meeting with the West Coast Avengers, and given the roster in question is Dr. Pym, the Wasp, Living Lightning, and Hawkeye, you wonder why he's holding back, really.
Rhodes tries to convince them to trust him, that he's Iron Man still, but dammit, there's going to be a fight, even though Rhodes was actually one of the founding West Coast Avengers, lived at the compound for ages and ages and really, this shouldn't be a problem. So Pym shrinks Iron Man down to Wasp size and they start beating the crap out of him.
Meanwhile, Kathy Dare, ever so slightly unhinged after Rhodes blasted her (not undeservedly) for causing this mess brandishes a gun, which is never a good sign, really. Rhodes discovers new empathy for Stark's alcoholism as Spymaster wakes up the Beetle and Blacklash and Dr. Pym enlarges some change in his pocket which is then stolen by Batman to re-do his cave. Giant money really ties the room together, you understand.
So, right when the Avengers have Iron Man on the ropes, Spymaster and his goons attack them, which finally gets everyone on the same page and they team up to break a foot off in Spymaster and company. As typically Iron Man can take them out pretty readily, this only takes half a page, and it's all a distraction anyways, as Kathy Dare takes out her gun again and shoot herself in the head.
Rhodes feels a bit responsible--last issue, he ranted at her for shooting at him, and feels guilty for driving her over the edge. While in the midst of that Rhodes sees . . .Tony Stark? (it's not really Stark, it's actually the Living Laser, of course, and we'll see that pay off in a bit) and we cut to a little later and Rhodes is beginning his romance with Rae LaCoste. Meanwhile, we cut to Stark in his cryo-unit, wherein he's reliving his past, particularly his life with his father, who alternately encouraged him towards the sciences, but also continually berated him for showing emotion. The mood swings are down to his father's alcoholism, of course, which is implied--maybe not as gently as it should have been--to be kind of hereditary.
There is a great bit later on though, where Stark talks about because he had no order in his life, he had to make his own. The assertion is, the person he couldn't be on his own, for one reason or the other, he built Iron Man to be. This reminiscence fades into Morgan Stark jamming a knife through his newspaper, thus ruining his desk, and vowing to take everything that belonged to Tony Stark.
This is a "catch our breath" issue as we tie up the Tony Stark dying business for a little while and set up Jim Rhodes being Iron Man for four or five issues while Tony Stark gets over being dead. As such, it feels a bit shapeless, although some effort is made to give it some--there's the first with the Avengers and stuff, of course, but really, the business of tying things up for a bit is the issue's chief role.
I did rather like the bit where Kathy Dare shoot herself, not because of any blood lust on my part, mind, but it was a rather subtle touch to show that occasionally when people say things they can have unintended consequence and leave the people who said them feeling guilty for maybe going to far. It's a subtle touch you don't often see in comics, really.
It's not a bad issue, but it's plainly meant to be read in series with the rest of the run and doesn't stand on its own as steadily as others might. Kevin Hopgood does his usual splendid job with the art, although Mike DeCarlo's inks make things a bit scratchier when compared with the usual inker Steve Mitchell's blockier blacks. Kaminski does his usual great job in giving Tony some actual character--we've not had this much of a look at what drives Stark . . .well, I don't know that we ever did, actually, before now. Of course, all this has been jettisoned to make him the smug douche we are completely removed from caring about today, so . . .yeah.