I think the last one of these got a bit too “blow by blow” so I’ll be pulling back for a wide shot here. I’d read these a few days ago but held off because I wanted to polish off the last few issues in the event. But then I ended up spending my spare time reading Chinese cultivation novels and the Age of Sigmar:Soulbound RPG. Hopefully get them done this week and be done with Disassembled. I have the feel the speed will pick up a lot when I get to a single title.
I’m going to talk about the art first of all both because it’s very noticeable and because the difference between the cover and the interior art is night and day.
I like that cover art quite a bit. I think a more mechanical, almost “mecha” like look works really well for Iron Man and its an aesthetic I prefer to some of the “second metal skin” approaches because despite the name I want to see a guy in a suit not a man of iron. Then we have the interior art. Clearly the artist felt like the bad Captain America faces were a challenge and boy did they step up.
Where do you even start? It looks like bad rotoscoping from a student sci-fi film or 3D art that’s been painted over after the models melted for some reason. Tony Stark looks like a drunk Poirot impersonator of the love child of David Suchet and Basil Fawlty. The female character in all those pages is meant to be the same person. If you’re thinking “Oh she must be shape changing mutant” you would be wrong as she’s nominally a normal human. The Iron Man suit also looks shit. I will give the artist kudos for this clever little bit where a character is watching footage of Tony’s speech and its the panels from the Avengers comic.
I’m not gonna lie I disliked the artwork so much I was just going to skip this but I pushed ahead anyway and the story arc had its good points. It starts of with Tony trying to find out why he went bonkers at the UN, which is confusing as this is meant to occur after the last Avengers issue. What’s makes it more confusing is that later he knows it was Scarlet Witch but despite this story being continuous he never goes to find that out. As Tony talks to Happy Hogan about how he’s losing his mind (his friend, Pepper Potts husband) it switches between him, his ex-girlfriend Rumiko and what’s going on at the Stark building. Which is about four tedious pages of secretaries and execs gossiping before Iron Man busts in the window and kills the board of directors and nearly kills Happy and Pepper. As he flies off Rumiko heads to the US while reminiscing (flashback stylee) about their relationship.
This issue was pretty solid, if confusing at times and ugly. You’re fairly sure it wasn’t Tony who killed the board but with recent events you cant really be sure.
The next issue is more Rumiko travelling and flashbacking (to her having dinner with Tony and being interrupted by an asshole industrialist called Clarence Ward) while Pepper and Happy deal with a SHIELD investigation and talk about is or isn’t it Tony who did it. Rumiko gets to Tonys house to find it swarmed with protestors. Hap and Pepper are at home watching senators debate about Tony killing the board with an associated flashback where he stops Al’Queda buying weapons from Clarence Ward. In the present we see Tony in an isolation tank reminiscing on how hes spread himself too thin and he shout put the armour on ice for a while. Rumiko and her assistant/friend come inside. The friend gets incinerated by Iron Man and the Rumiko gets blasted as well. Tony comes out of a side door just in time to cradle her in his arms and watch her die. Then he gets punched through a wall.
Rumiko’s death was terrible. Maybe it was the terrible art. Maybe it was how sudden it was. Maybe it was the complete lack of any emotional resonance. But it fell completely flat. She was a pretty important character in the Iron Man universe at this point and she was killed off for no reason and what would be no narrative pay off. The rest of the issue was fine if a little dull. It was nice though having characters you could tell apart purely from the dialogue.
The next issues was basically one long extended (televised) fight with some side stuff where Potts goes to Stark enterprises to trigger a failsafe built into all Starktech (which seems like an incredibly bad idea in the Marvel Universe not least because if hacked it would shut off Tony’s heart) while some soldiers in vintage Iron Man suits (who seem to be a unit Tony made when he was secretary of defence) get ready to take care of whichever Iron Man’s left standing. This issue was workmanlike. The villain does the usual jealous ranting along with referring to a shadowy backer. Though some of the villains rhetoric about how Tony was stupid for having a public identity and how he loves the fame did land pretty well. I’ve never found Stark convincing as a hero. He reeks of privilege and his big “call to action” was saving his own life. The issue ends with the telegraphed reveal that it’s Clarence Ward inside the suit. Again the artwork really took away from what was clearly written as a spectacle issue.
Tony beats up Ward. Potts shuts off all suits in the vicinity. The captain of the soldiers puts one in Ward’s head as Tony storms off. There’s then some particularly unconvincing grief laden soliloquys from Tony at Rumiko’s funeral and that’s basically the last she’ll ever be mentioned. Her death was so incredibly underwhelming. Made even more so with the next few pages where Tony gives a glib speech mentioning “some mistakes were made” while announcing he’s stepping down from everything (including Iron Man) to focus on scientific research. But someone will still be Iron Man. Later in the car with Pepper and Happy we discover that someone will be him, quelle surprise. So in short he learned nothing from this event nor from Rumiko’s death making the entire thing feel incredibly pointless (just like the end of the first Dr Strange movie). The issue ends with the reveal that the son of The Mandarin was Ward’s shadowy backer. But honestly, who gives a fuck? (Especially as this is the last issue of Iron Man in this volume).
Overall it was grand. There was some good to great characeriation and dialogues (mostly from Rumiko and Pepper) but the plot felt very poorly paced and ultimately pointless. It felt like treading water.