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Cover Of The Day 10/30/15

Marvel’s recently launched All New All Different branding yielded a new Invincible Iron Man series by Brian Michael Bendis considered to be one of the cornerstone titles of the new Marvel U. Prior to this series beginning Bendis had been hinting at a second Iron Man series that would run concurrent to Invincible. My money was on a Mary Jane series since it had been solicited that she was going to become a major player in Iron Man’s world. Well, we recently got our answer along with this gloriously pulpy cover:

international-iron-man-59bde

The second series is called International Iron Man by one of my favorite creative teams, Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. You may remember them from Daredevil, or Spider-Woman, possibly even Moon Knight. Tony Stark will be globe trotting and (hopefully) based on that cover doing his best James Bond impression. My only qualms is that while Maleev is a great artist, his timeliness leaves a whole lot to be desired. Late books is one of the things I dislike most about the medium, so lets hope they can keep it together. In the meantime let’s just take a moment to really soak in that cover of issue #1.

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Pulp Corner: Iron Man Noir

A few years ago, Marvel introduced a line of noir stories taking place outside of current Marvel continuity. Most of these were dark gritty 1940’s reimaginings of popular characters like Spider-Man, Luke Cage, Punisher and even the X-Men. Iron Man Noir decided to take a different approach and lean more heavily on pulp aesthetic rather than noir and honestly, it’s a much better book because of it.

Iron Man Noir cover

Released in 2010 as a 4 issue miniseries it contains some of the first comic book work of famed Batman scribe, Scott Snyder. Tony Stark is transformed into a Doc Savage/Indiana Jones type adventurer searching for mystical artifacts all over the world that could possibly cure his ailing heart condition. Able to finance these quests because of his vast wealth, Tony has them chronicled for a men’s adventure magazine which has made him into an international celebrity.

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Evil Geek Book Report – Invincible Iron Man (Part 2)

In Part 1 of this review, I bored you to death with my personal history with Iron Man and went over the first story arc of the recently concluded “Invincible Iron Man”. We left off with Stark Enterprises torn asunder by Ezekiel Stane’s bastardized Stark tech. Also, Pepper Potts was gravely wounded and her life saved only by having a repulsor of her own installed. This was followed immediately by an interlude guest starring Spider-Man where, in addition to doing the usual superhero stuff together, Fraction explored the leftover drama from Civil War, where Stark essentially put a hit out on Spider-Man.  It was a nice break from the fast-paced action of the first storyline. And the next story actually dealt with the fallout of another Marvel event: Secret Invasion. Norman Osborn had turned the tide against the Skrull invasion and in doing so earned himself a key position  in the United Nations… unfortunately, it was the position occupied by Tony Stark.

So, Norman rebranded S.H.I.E.L.D. as H.A.M.M.E.R. and Tony Stark cleared out his cubicle and hit the bricks, but like most disgruntled employees he did some damage on his way out, although in this case it was an act of altruism. Instead of stealing a few reams of copier paper, Tony destroyed the registry of superhero secret identities so that Norman “The Green Goblin” Osborn couldn’t use it for evil. That always looks good in the eyes of future employers.

Now, when most people get fired they play video games in their underwear for a week or two, but Tony didn’t have that luxury. You see, the only backup of the information was stored in Tony’s noggin and it certainly wasn’t beneath Norman Osborn to get that information by any means necessary. A while back, Tony had injected himself with a weaponized nanite system called Extremis, essentially a 21st century Super Soldier Serum. Because of this, he could interface directly with his armor and in doing so become one with his armor. However, it also left him with his memory and personality stored as computer data. So in order to protect the superhero community he had put at risk, he realized he needed to wipe the ol’ hard drive upstairs even if it meant making himself a vegetable.

iron man derp

You have an army? We can count to potato.

As you might imagine, Norman Osborn scrambled to get his hands on whatever was left of  that sweet, sweet brain and get a little revenge in the process. So Tony is in an ugly situation. He has progressive brain damage, he’s got H.A.M.M.E.R.’s every resource going after his ass, and the costumed vigilante community at large is still none-too-pleased with him after that  nasty business of the superhero civil war. He calls in some old favors, and some familiar faces come out of the woodwork.   Black Widow, Maria Hill, and Pepper Potts (in her own suit of non-combat armor called Rescue) have a fun little Marvel Team-Up style “initially at odds” adventure. Bucky Barnes (at that time Captain America) helped out where he could. And eventually, when Stormin’ Norman finally gets his hands on what’s left of Stark and beats him mercilessly on live television,  Tony’s estranged friend and Avenger’s co-founder Donald Blake shows up to take custody of the comatose Iron Man, having been granted power of attorney as part of Stark’s master plan.

starkseleven

It’s like the Ocean’s Eleven Movies, only more plausible.

See you in a few, geeks.

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Evil Geek Book Report – Invincible Iron Man (Part 1)

Taking a break from our recent Marvel Now reviews, let’s take a look at one of the volumes that ended to make way for the new direction!  I’ll be honest. I was gonna review the new Iron Man series, but I couldn’t make it through the first issue. So instead I’m going to take a few days and review the full run of the first Iron Man series I enjoyed start to finish.

Growing up on comics, Iron Man was a character about whom I couldn’t bring myself to care. Sure, I respected him as an Avenger and I loved the Silver Centurion armor, but there weren’t many stories that I found interesting. There was Demon in a Bottle, where Tony Stark struggled with alcoholism and lost his company only to quit drinking and take back his company. That one was sort of a push, huh? There was Armor Wars, where all of the armor-themed villains and Iron Man had it out… that’s pretty hard not to enjoy.  And then there was Armor Wars II, where that more or less (but kinda less) happened again but with John Byrne and John Romita Jr. handling it.  And really, that was it.  They also brought in Fin Fang Foom, a partially clothed Chinese dragon who had first appeared in Marvel’s monster comics. But I wouldn’t appreciate how awesome that was until later on.

Foom

I sincerely hope that this is what Stan Lee and Jack Kirby had in mind.

So, I went right on ignoring Iron Man comics while they introduced War Machine. I didn’t flinch when they turned Tony Stark into a teenager, or when they relaunched it as a Heroes Reborn series. Or as a Heroes Return series. I will say that I read Extremis, the Warren Ellis storyline that comprised the first few issues of what I believe was volume 4. It was definitely a well-written science fiction story, and it was without a doubt beautifully illustrated. But it didn’t feel like an Iron Man story to me, and furthermore I stopped reading the series as soon as that story was finished. And Tony Stark, Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. didn’t exactly drag me back in. I found the character boring, and the amount of times the character had arbitrarily been reinvented told me that I wasn’t alone. They had messed Iron Man up pretty bad…

But then came the first Iron Man movie, and Robert Downey Jr. made him interesting. Thankfully, Marvel did another reboot just around that time and used an interpretation of Stark which was more in line with the film version. Matt Fraction was writing it, which was also exciting to me because of his and Ed Brubaker’s fantastic run on the Immortal Iron Fist which had made that character totally credible. If Iron Fist could be made relevant, imagine what could be done to a character with a bit more mainstream appeal. The art duties fell upon Salvador Larroca. I find his art to be sort of hit or miss. I enjoyed his mid-90s work with Marvel, but it was very cartoonish. In the 2000s, he took a turn toward photorealism, and made a much bigger name for himself in doing so. I think that he relies a bit too heavily on photoreference.  I don’t think he’s the type of artist who outright lifts panels from photos and film (like Greg Land, the artist of the Marvel NOW Iron Man relaunch), but he definitely uses stock backgrounds from time to time and he bases his character designs on famous actors which can be distracting. Tony Stark is Josh Holloway, Sawyer from Lost. Pepper Potts is occasionally Nicole Kidman and later on we have characters based on Tommy Lee Jones and Bill Paxton’s rather distinctive faces.

While it takes you out of the story from time to time, Larroca still puts out a very good looking book and I have to give him credit for doing for four over years without missing an issue.

As the first storyline “The Five Nightmares” kicks off, Tony Stark is still the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., so he’s busy overseeing the security of the free world when Ezekiel Stane starts using bastardized Stark technology for terrorist action across the world. Now, it may seem as if Stane was used only because his now deceased father was being used in the concurrent Iron Man film, but they didn’t just put another name inside the Iron Monger armor. Ezekiel was a brilliant young engineer who also happened to be a sociopath. He wasn’t attempting a hostile takeover of Stark’s business. He, as they say, just wanted to watch the world burn. And he does a decent job of it, actually. He effectively ruins Tony Stark by destroying Stark Enterprises in a series of crippling terrorist attacks before he’s carted off to prison.

ezekielstane2

Problem Child

After stripping Iron Man of the family business, Fraction’s next storyline “World’s Most Wanted” goes after his day job as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.

And we’re going to tackle that part next time, because it’s a doozy.

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30 Days Hath Novembeard – Day 29

The secret of the Stark armor: It’s actually made by Norelco.

The Novembeard finish line is finally within site!  We’ve been going through a veritable who’s who of the beard world this month and for the penultimate salute to facial fur, we’ve saved the ultimate uber-geek:  Tony Stark!  Aside from Reed Richards, Tony’s the brainiest guy in the Marvel Universe. He’s got a TON of cash and he manages to reel in a non-stop stream of ladies. There is simply no other goatee as powerful as the one adorning the inside of the Iron Man helmet.  This fashion forward facial hair can afford to buy and sell anyone on the planet! It’s half a beard, but it’s still got enough clout to run the show in the Marvel U!  Sure, there have been a few missteps in this beards career, no one’s going to argue that.  Maybe we had a little bit of a Skrull infestation under the watchful gaze of this glorious beard.  There was also that unfortunate business with a Hulk invasion and maybe Tony eventually ended up resigning in disgrace as the head of S.H.I.E.L.D. but you know what? No one’s perfect, so don’t blame the beard.  He wasn’t the one calling the shots, he was just along for the ride.

That’s not sweat running down his face, that’s vodka. Pure, unadulterated, vodka.

That’s a confident beard, a mighty beard.  A beard that counts a thunder-god and a living WWII legend among his best friends.  Gone are the days when that beard was basically a gin sponge; that’s now a beard of authority!  Just look at it; perfectly symmetrical, not a single follicle out-of-place, and angles razor-sharp enough to shred an entire head of cabbage.  That’s a beard that’s had the pleasure of teasing the inner thighs of many a gorgeous Marvel U heroine.  Just ask the Black Widow!  That’s a beard deserving, nay, DEMANDING respect!  Skrull children tell ghost stories and hold candles in front of mirrors during midnight seances chanting “BLOODY TONY, BLOODY TONY!!” whilst cowering in fear of the ferocity of that beard!  It spends so much time shielded behind the face plate of Tony’s armor, not because it needs to be defended from evil doers, NO! It’s shielded because those evil doers need to be shielded from IT! Beards like this are specifically why we created Novembeard, that’s why we’re dedicating today’s post to Tony Stark!

Tony may be a little banged up, but the goatee? Still sparklingly impeccable!

All images and characters depicted are copyright of their respective owners.

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