Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Review #22: Iron Man Interrupts Taylor Swift

Stark Resilient

Writer: Matt Fraction

Artist: Salvador Larroca /Jamie McKelvie

Published: Marvel, 2011

Tony Stark is the Kanye West of the comic book world: massive douchebaggery, but he backs it up with results.

As both a CEO and a superhero, Tony strikes a chord with readers in this corporate-centric world. I would love to see a story arc in which Iron Man somehow fights a physical representation of the recession.

Anywho, Stark Resilient drops us in the middle of a storyline in which Stark Industries has taken a major hit and is basically restarting from the ground up. Tony's former assistant and current right-hand woman, Pepper Potts, has just undergone surgery to have a “repulsor” installed in her chest, similar to the one Tony has [they are essentially both cyborgs]. Also similar to Tony, she has become a hero with the help of a suit of armor, calling herself Rescue.

Justine Hammer, daughter of a deceased nemesis of Tony's [Justin Hammer] and wife to another [the Mandarin], is determined to humiliate him, both physically and financially. The Hammers have developed their own version of the Iron Man armor, piloted by Lt. Doug Johnson of the U.S. military and dubbed “Detroit Steel”. Hammer Industries is basically are looking to replace Stark Industries in the weapons market, complete with sweet government contracts.

Tony experiences a set back when his new “green” car explodes during a test run. Tony knows it was sabotage, but doesn't have any leads. The company proceeds with the unveiling of their new vehicle, with Tony behind the wheel, but the Hammers decide to attack him with some remotely controlled drones they have developed for the U.S. military. Their plan is to claim it was a terrorist attack and they send in Detroit Steel to “save” Tony, when his mission, of course, is to kill him.

With the help of Rescue and War Machine, Tony manages to dodge Detroit Steel long enough for S.H.E.I.L.D. director Maria Hill to intimidate the Hammer's military ally, a General Babbage, into calling off the dogs. Huzzah!

Apparently a lot of the right people like this series, as it has won an Eisner. I like it as well, but there were a couple problems here and there. I thought that Lt. Johnson was convinced a little too easily that killing innocent AMERICAN civilians was an OK thing to do. And it wasn't quite clear why Hill's threat to General Babbage held any weight, when she didn't have any proof that he was “in bed” with the Hammers.

Plenty of good stuff, though: the smooth artwork, the effortlessly modern feel, and of course, our leading man. The greatest strength that Iron Man has as a character is his humanity [funny, for a guy who is part robot]. Throughout his career, Tony has had an on-and-off struggle with alcoholism. He is currently off the hooch and it is interesting to see how that affects his behaviour. Tony shows an uncharacteristic lack of confidence before an important gala and talks wistfully about not being able to get drunk. Underneath the layers of booze and armor and arrogance, Tony is just as vulnerable as the next guy.

The main story line is followed by a WONDERFUL little 8-pager called “Good Morning, Tony”, which is a hilarious and touching look at a day in the life of Tony Stark, almost completely sans dialogue.

He wakes up, has his coffee, showers, drives to work [I don't know why he doesn't just fly to work in the Iron Man suit; it would save time and money], fights bad guys, has lunch, flirts with some random woman, goes to dinner with said random woman, sleeps with said random woman and then starts the whole thing over again.

The story provides a look at the mundane aspects of Tony's life. Now, wining and dining some hot blond may not be your or my idea of mundane, but it probably happens to a guy like Tony a lot. He seems to be merely going through the motions with this woman.

The only genuine happiness that Tony shows throughout the evening is at 1:30 in the morning, when his floozy is fast asleep, and Pepper calls him. Isn't that sweet.

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