Monday, February 7, 2011

Back Issue Alphabet: I is for Iron Man: Director of Shield #31

Iron Man: Director of Shield #31 With Iron Hands Part 3 of 4 (Stuart Moore, Carlo Pagulayan, Steve Kurth)

The cover is a very nice drawing of Tony in armour, which is lost in a sea of hundreds of very nice drawings of Tony in armour just sort of standing around or flying. I really wish comic book covers were more like they were in the 80s and earlier, where the cover was relevant to what was actually going on in the book itself.

I’ve been following Iron Man comics since Matt Fraction took over in 2009, so it was interesting to see this issue come up in my random selections. In “With Iron Hands,” Tony has to deal with the consequences of being brilliant and rich. Well, that sounds quite sarcastic, but when people rise above the masses they become easy targets for the disgruntled and the jealous.

According to the introductory blurb, Iron Man and SHIELD’s Alpha Team (guys with Iron Man style armour) are investigating the terrorist threat in Eastern Europe when they’re ambushed by mercenaries with the ability to shut down Stark Tech. Back in the States, a SHIELD scientist by the name of Nicolas Weir has it in for Tony Stark. When Stark became the Director of SHIELD he gave the organization access to Stark Tech, which completely overshadowed Weir’s years of work. To get revenge, Weir tampered with a Cold War-era device, and now he’s a giant flying metal brain trying to kill Iron Man. Yeah, it sounds lame, but the Weir/Machine hybrid is actually really creepy and cool.

Tony Stark is at his best when he’s being a smart ass. There are a few great moments in the book where Tony is trying to remember who Weir is and calm him down.

If you recall my Hypervelocity review, a lot of dramatic tension in Iron Man comes from redirecting power and rebooting the system. Unfortunately, IM:DoS #31 is no stranger to that trope, with Tony reaching deep within himself (literally, sort of) to reboot his Extremis Armour at the binary level. In the 1960s, Iron Man had transistors for mysterious all-encompassing explanatory technology. Nowadays it’s nanomachines. You say “nanomachines” and everybody shuts up because, hey, nanomachines. Who knows how they even work, right?

Besides relying on that old crutch, IM:DoS #31 is a good read. Tony gets some good lines in and goes up against a freaky villain with a cool design. Because of the intro blurb and the clear labelling of the story number “part three of four” it would be really easy for a new reader to pick up the two preceding issues and follow the current storyline.

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