The Invincible Iron Man 24 (May 2010)

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Larroca’s inspiration for illustrating Captain America appears to be Chris Bachalo. Yuck.

Here’s where Tony comes back and saves everyone from the Ghost. Should have happened two issues ago. Anyway, some big problems–the injuries. The Ghost attacks Rhodey and Dr. Strange. It looks like, from the amount of blood, he does real damage.

Apparently not.

More problems–Tony’s adventures in slumberland come to a conclusion, with all the people whose deaths he feels responsible for (Happy Hogan gets a cameo, no Steve Rogers). More inexplicably, it turns out Tony’s hard drive is pre-Civil War. Guess he found a way not to make a deal with Mephisto.

Fraction’s metaphysical conclusion is pretty dumb–Tony abandoning his parents who live in a kingdom of blood (it’s about arms manufacturing, right?).

But Fraction also skips any resolution with Pepper or Maria; kind of makes all the Pepper and Tony stuff moot.

CREDITS

Stark: Disassembled, Part 5: …..; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 23 (April 2010)

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What’s that smell? Oh, it’s Fraction inserting the Ghost into this narrative and messing it up.

This issue features Pepper and Maria finding out Tony slept with both of them. It features little Tony’s adventures in slumberland finally paying off narratively–oh, I think Howard is supposed to be Howard Stark, not Howard Hughes. It was a lot more interesting my way.

Anyway, then the Ghost shows up and it’s bad. It’s almost indescribable how pedestrian the whole issue becomes.

Because before, it was also Pepper dealing with no longer being amped up on the repulsor technology, which was a really good scene.

Then she gets punched out by the Ghost or something. Not a good scene.

And Larroca’s doing his inconsistent face thing again here. Dr. Strange starts changing features between panels.

I think the problem’s the pacing. Fraction’s dragging this story out, it should have been three issues.

CREDITS

Stark: Disassembled, Part 4: Ghosts in the Machine; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 22 (March 2010)

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Yeah, this issue sort of realizes all my issues with a supervillain threatening Tony’s recovery. After Pepper finds out Tony’s not back–which is an effective scene, but it also depresses (Pepper certainly seemed like she would have made an interesting superhero only to have it plucked out of her as it were). Then Maria finds out the Ghost is around so she has to get everybody to hide out, since Captain America, Steve Rogers, Rhodey and Thor are all gone.

Because that scurrying makes sense. I mean, if Norman Osborn found out Tony could be rebooted, it’s not like he’d be upset. Let’s leave him unguarded.

Then Dr. Strange shows up (with Bucky) to get Tony out of his unconscious or whatever.

But bringing Dr. Strange in ruins the awesome scene of Tony powering up in his unconscious and coming back in time to save everyone from the Ghost.

CREDITS

Stark: Disassembled, Part 3: Is It Safe?; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 21 (February 2010)

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This issue might be one of Fraction’s best. Well, it’s one of his best in being this really big, but really thoughtful superhero issue. Rhodey brings in Steve Rogers to convince Pepper to bring Tony back–nice how it all fits, timeline wise (was Reborn even done at this point though?).

It then proceeds to have Tony–via recording–tell them how to resurrect him. To tug on the heartstrings, it requires Thor and Captain America (well, the shield) to do it–thank goodness there’s no real technology in the world as good as going MacGyver with the Avengers’ gadgets.

Unfortunately, there’s Madame Masque. I’m giving Fraction the slack of having Tony stuck in his head, but Madame Masque and the Ghost (I think it’s the Ghost) figuring out how to kill Tony via telephone wiring….

It adds this rather unnecessary supervillain nonsense, ignoring the humanity of the issue’s events.

CREDITS

Stark: Disassembled, Part 2: Digging in the Dirt; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 20 (December 2009)

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I think it would have been a lot bolder if Fraction hadn’t included Tony Stark on the ethereal plane with Howard Hughes.

Especially given the big development of Pepper Potts not being sure Tony gets to come back from the dead (thanks to the hard drive backup Fraction made obvious last story arc). Pepper was just getting busy with Tony the last twelve issues and she’s not sure he should get to come back from the dead?

Fraction writes a great Tony monologue for the beginning, gets in the drama with Madame Masque deciding she’s going to kill Tony against Norman Osborn’s wishes and has that Pepper Potts thing.

So does having Tony digging through a wasteland of his mind ruin it?

No.

But it does make the comic pretty traditional. I guess it makes sense it’s traditional, but I wish Fraction could have come up with a subversive device.

CREDITS

Stark: Disassembled, Part 1: Counting Up from Zero; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 12 (November 1987)

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Okay, The Mask is supposed to be incomprehensible. Badger’s first line in the story is about it being incomprehensible. In a lot of ways, it’s the best continuing serial in Dark Horse Presents so far. I can’t understand it, not with Badger’s art purposely intended to confuse, but at least the writing is ambitious. It’s ambitious in a really, really small way–this issue it’s showing realistic dialogue at a party–but Badger’s definitely trying something.

On the other hand, this issue’s Concrete is pretty tired. Chadwick’s showing how lonely it is when you’re stuck in an enormous alien, stone body. He could have done something akin to Chekhov’s Misery, but doesn’t because he’s got to keep the comic relatively upbeat. Nice art at the beginning though.

Nelson’s contribution is a five page time travel story. The plot’s decent if predictable and familiar, but the art is exquisite and beautiful.

CREDITS

Concrete, Next Best; writer and artist, Paul Chadwick; letterer, Bill Spicer. The Portheus Project; writer and artist, Mark A. Nelson. The Mask; writer and artist, Mark Badger; letterer, Tim Harkins. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

Dark Horse Presents 11 (October 1987)

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Is The Mask supposed to be understandable? Badger’s writing seems straightforward enough–two CIA agents are trying to find a Cuban priest who’s in New York City, but his art makes it completely incomprehensible. And it’s hard to imagine how the titular Mask (Masque) is going to figure into the priest’s story. I also can’t figure out if it’s supposed to be pro-Cuba or anti-Cuba.

West writes a little history lesson about the Battle of the Somme. Moiseiwitsch’s art is more like etchings and the text is set to them and somewhat related. It’s unsuccessful but not ambitious either.

Roma limps to its finish. Some nice art from Workman but the writing’s incredibly weak. He’s also basically only doing closeups now, which is odd since the story’s got a big finish.

The best thing in the issue–by far–are Nelson’s two Dinosaur Tales pages. Absolutely wondrous art.

CREDITS

The Mask; writer and artist, Mark Badger; letterer, Tim Harkins. Forgotten; writer, Ross Evan West; artist, Carel Moiseiwitsch. Roma; writer, artist and letterer, John Workman. Dinosaur Tales; writer, artist and letterer, Mark A. Nelson. Editor, Randy Stradley; publisher, Dark Horse Comics.

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