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 #287
Artists: Kevin Hopgood (pencils) Mike DeCarlo (inks)
We open with Jim Rhodes calling a meeting of the board he's now in charge of after Tony Stark's death. He says SE isn't broken and he won't try to fix it and says they'll continue business as usual which, of course, means it won't at all. Rhodes is so happy he sets up a dinner date with Rae LaCoste and confesses his anxiety about being in the big chair and a further wrinkle is thrown in when Rae says she wants to be more than friends with Rhodes. Not surprisingly, he's a little tongue-tied.
Cut to Stane International, when two security guards are finishing up their shift and get surprised by a freaky guy in a suit who calls himself Atom Smasher (not that one) who tells them to alert the media. The security guards, apparently the most obliging security guards in the history of anything, do just that.
Cut to Rhodes and Rae, having just slept together (if the modesty bedsheeting Rae is sporting is any indication) Rhodes tells her an interracial romance isn't easy, but Rae says she's not really that worried about it, and before things can get any saucier, the phone rings, and given Rhodes's reaction, it's obviously about the Atom Smasher thing.
Over in Subplots Corner, Marcy Pearson is cleaning out her desk and vowing revenge on Jim Rhodes, because there's nothing like losing your shit about getting fired that makes people thing "now there's someone with their head on straight) she runs into Morgan Stark, who makes her an offer she can't refuse, which will come to fruition, more or less, later on.
Rhodes takes a meeting about the Atom Smasher thing, and there's not a lot they can do, so the people around him say. Ever since Stark Enterprises bought Stane from Justin Hammer a few issues back, it's been something of a poisoned chalice (and will be moreso when we go into "Crash and Burn" post #300) Rhodes suits up in the War Machine suit and flies off to find out what's what.
Back in another Subplots Corner, Abe Zimmer and Erica Sondheim stare at Stark's corpscicle and ruminate about how impossible all this is and this is our entree to Stark flashing back to his childhood and what a hateful asshole his father was. This is the beginning of Stark's use of the word "Mallory" as his password, because he was into knights and chivalry as a child. Yes, this is all laying it on rather a bit thick.
We cut back to Iron Man landing at Stane and encountering Atom Smasher, and Iron Man follows the crackling radiation and encounters Atom Smasher, which immediately leads to a fight that goes so badly that we're nearly Busiek levels of main-character-asskicking here. Meanwhile, the U.S. Government (one assumes) decides to send in Firepower.
This is a pretty decent issue with some seriously ropey bits. The parts with Rhodes stepping up to the plate as CEO is pretty good and it's good to see him having storylines of his own and not really being Stark's appendage so much, even through in about three issues this is gonna all be reversed (and I don't know if it gets adequately followed up in War Machine before that book's new status quo overtakes everything) and this is the beginning of dealing with the consequences of Stark's buyout of Stane International.
The bits that don't work very well, are . . .well, the Stark flashbacks. OK, we get it, he realises the value of iron and he idealises knight and stuff. You don't have to lay it on with a trowel. It's a bit of a shame, because the other flashbacks, which deal with Stark's father emotional abuse and his alcoholism worked great, but this . . .er, not so much.
Also, Atom Smasher's design is . . .well, problematic.
But it's mostly good and keeps things humming along and there's more good than bad to be found here.