I’ve realized that I’m writing a lot more comic reviews than I can reasonably post at one per week so I’m going to post more than one per week. I hope nobody minds.
I’m a fan of Iron Man, as I’ve said before, but I tend to like some of the classic light stories, where everything isn’t always life or death. It was a couple of years ago that I decided I wanted to read the entire run of classic Iron Man, from issue #1 and while I didn’t actually make it all the way through, I made it past issue #72, which is the source material for this particular story. That’s why it has such a light, fun tone because it came from a light, fun era.
The story is simple. Tony Stark is holding a press conference to introduce the new clean energy source for Stark Tower. Out of the blue, he’s attacked by the Melter, a super villain who has copied his suit design, but in place of his repulsors, he has melting beams that attack non-organic materials at a molecular level, causing them to disintegrate. The Melter makes Iron Man look like a fool and then flies off, inviting potential buyers to watch for an auction where he’ll sell his technology to the highest bidder. Later, Rhodey is on maneuvers as War Machine when he’s attacked by the Melter and the same thing happens. War Machine cannot lay a technological finger on Melter and Melter’s beams leave the armor damaged. Tony immediately starts working to improve both suits and they hatch a wager. Whoever can find the Melter’s secret hideout first has to polish the other’s suit by hand. Rhodey is methodical and by the book, Stark is anything but. The contest is a lot of fun and the existence of J.A.R.V.I.S. as an artificial intelligence places this book firmly in the movie universe. My favorite bits were where Tony would ask J.A.R.V.I.S. if he should do something, J.A.R.V.I.S. would respond that it would take permits and fees and would probably break a number of laws and Tony would just say “Never mind, I did it”. Rhodey follows rules, Tony ignores them. They locate the Melter’s lair and are attacked, but thanks to the upgrades Stark has performed, he cannot cause serious damage to the suits. Together, they take him down and stop him from selling off his technology. The world is safe for democracy and they learn that both of their methods are valuable and nobody wins the bet.
It’s clear that this one-shot exists only as a tie-in for the Iron Man 3 movie. It’s written in the movie universe, with story by Christos Gage and art by Ron Lim, and it’s a clear throw-back to a simpler time when most Marvel comics weren’t about saving the world 6x a day, they were fun adventures. I think the comics world is missing a lot of that kind of story right now, light, entertaining fare that’s simple escapism. I’ve seen a lot of people who have criticized this one-shot, just because it’s not like all of the other things on the stands right now but I think most of these people were children of the 90s, not of the 60s when the original storyline was released. As a special bonus, they reprint the original story from Iron Man #72 in the back. Seeing it got me all nostalgic, it’s still a good read today.
Maybe the only potential downside is how silly the Melter’s costume looked. After all, since he ripped off the Iron Man armor, why is he just wearing an absurd looking helmet instead of a full face mask? There was a scene where Rhodey was just spraying the area with bullets and he was trying to shield his face with his arm. Um… design flaw? Granted, the Melter’s costume has never been all that great to begin with so almost anything is an improvement.
This was a fun read, quick and self-contained and for anyone who has been an Iron Man fan since way back, it’ll bring back memories. Good stuff!