Monday, July 25, 2011

Didjutal Comiks: IRON MAN #315

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 #248
April 1995

"Old Soldiers"

Writer: Len Kaminski
Artists: Tom Morgan (Pencils & Inks)

We begin with Iron Man tearing through into a reactor core which is melting down and which seems to be alive, like living slag (Foreshadowing--your key to quality literature!) This is all the fault of Ted Slaught, whose Alzheimer's one would think would preclude him from operating a major science experiment, but everyone's in some kind of collective denial about it, so Stark exposits about how important Slaught was to him when he was a kid. Slaught returns the favour by running in and screaming at him for being ungrateful and stabbing him in the back with trying to get him dismissed from the project.

But that's a problem for three issues or so from now. For now, Stark's jetting off to Russia with his new pilot (do we ever see her again? I doubt it) and the Black Widow, resplendent in a dress which positively thunders "Look! I'm wearing now underwear" from every rooftop. Innuendo is slathered on with a trowel for a bit and we're off to Russia . . .

. . .where the Titanium Man is in Lenin's Tomb, and lamenting the state of post-Communist Russia. He decides to do something about it (what that something is, isn't quite clear, but then again, dude is barking mad) and he flies off while the generals in Russia decide to call Valentin Shatalov, lately the Crimson Dynamo, to deal with him. There's a whole TON of backstory here (most of it from Fabian Nicieza's wonderfully insane Soviet Super-Soldiers one-shot) that involves Titanium Man and Shatalov being teammates, but all you need to know is that . . .well, they were teammates. Also: track down that one-shot some time. It's hilariously daft.

Anyways, cut back to Stark kibitzing with Gorbachev and other Russian dignitaries, when the Titanium Man storms in (Man, no one noticed the nine-foot tall guy in powered armour with the glowing eyes? Shit--Russia is in bad shape) Stark suits up as Iron Man, and a throwdown ensues. Iron Man and Titanium Man debate current events while they zap each other and Iron Man calls Titanium Man's armour is obsolete.

And Iron Man pretty much gets his ass kicked for mouthing off. We end with Titanium Man about to give Iron Man the Bane/Batman thing and then it's continued next issue!

We're close to the end of Kaminski's run on the book, and the he closes out with a three-part story and a issue that ties up the stuff with Slaught before he leaves and the Crossing stuff starts (less said about that the better) and it's serviceable enough. It's only natural that given the no. 1 supplier of bad guys for Iron Man back in the early days was the Soviet Union, that he should go back and see how things have changed and positioning Titanium Man as a relic of the Cold War works as well. I don't know that it needed to be three issues, really--not much happens in this first part when you get down to it. But even if it would work better as a two-parter, it's sound enough in concept that you don't mind so much.

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