Tuesday, October 19, 2010

More Iron Man

Watching IRON MAN 2 a couple of weeks ago perked up my interest in the character. I’ve written on here before about the stack of comics I got from a couple of my cousins on Christmas Day, 1963, and there was an issue of TALES OF SUSPENSE featuring an Iron Man story among them. In recent days I’ve read three collections that reprint a pretty long run from the current Iron Man series: WORLDS MOST WANTED, VOLUMES 1 and 2, and STARK DISASSEMBLED. The storyline that run through all three volumes finds Tony Stark on the run from Norman Osborn, the bad guy turned good guy (but really still bad guy) who runs H.A.M.M.E.R., the organization that replaced S.H.I.E.L.D. during the whole Civil War mega-event. Osborn wants all the secrets to Stark technology that exist in Tony’s brain, so Tony takes the desperate step of shutting down certain areas of his brain and turning himself stupid, just so Osborn can’t get the information he’s after. Tony has a plan to “reboot” himself, though, but in order for it to succeed, he needs the help of numerous allies like Captain America, Thor, the Black Widow, and Maria Hill, the former director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

The scripts by Matt Fraction, who continues to write the ongoing Iron Man series, are pretty good, with sharp dialogue and quite a bit of action. I think the stories could have used a little more humor, but that’s just me. Fraction does succeed in making me actually like Maria Hill as a character, when every time I’ve encountered her before she came across as either so bland as to be invisible or too abrasive to be sympathetic. The art by Salvador Larrocca is okay, too, although he’s no Don Heck. (And I’m surprisingly serious about that comment, since we tend to like what we grew up with and I grew up first with Heck’s version of Iron Man and then Gene Colan’s, under the pseudonym Adam Austin).

These three collections brought me almost up to date on the current Iron Man series, which I’m going to start reading again. I still don’t like the fact that everybody knows Tony Stark is Iron Man (again, I grew up in a time when superheroes had secret identities, blast it), but the character seems to be in pretty good hands these days, after a long time of wandering in the wilderness. (Teenage Tony Stark? Really? Tony Stark secretly under the control of Kang the Conqueror since AVENGERS #8? Really? Man, what was Marvel thinking . . .)


beb said...

I read Iron Man in the 70s b ut he was not my favorite character. At the time i was reading all the Marvel titles and that included him. (I can't imagine anyone trying to read all the Marvel comics these days. I don't even have a clue how many they publish but it must be two dozen or more a month.)

Your comment about Don Heck's art is what caught my attention. Back then I hated - really hated Heck's art, and didn't care much for George Tuska's work either. In any ways Heck was the antithesis of Jack Kirby and it showed. but as I look over modern comics I find myself revising my feeling about Heck. Whatever else you might think about him, he always presented a clear vision of what was going on. Which is something I think has been lost on current comic book artists (not to mention the whole world of action manga)

James Reasoner said...

The only Silver Age artist whose work I had trouble following at times was Gene Colan, and that was only on Dr. Strange and Tomb of Dracula. Colan's superhero work was pretty straightforward. And it was good enough I liked the more phantastagorical stuff, too, even when I had to look at it more closely to figure out what was going on. Kirby and Ditko were my favorites from that era, but I liked just about all of Marvel's artists, especially guys like Dick Ayers.

I don't know how many titles Marvel publishes now. I've started reading just the basic superhero books, minus the X-Men and related titles, and that's about 15 per month. Don't know how long I'll keep it up, but right now I'm having a great time with them.