Wednesday, January 29, 2014

IRON MAN #137

"CHAPTER I: FAÇADES"
Plot/Writer: David Michelinie | Plot/Artist: Bob Layton
Letterer: John Costanza | Colorist: Ben Sean | Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: During Stark International's third annual employee appreciation party, the gathered employees watch the debut of Tony Stark's newest invention, an offshore sonic borer, via a TV monitor. But the borer malfunctions, and Iron Man races into action to save the day. In the chaos, the borer's power supply, a prototype energizer link, is stolen by the project's head, Ted Calloway. Iron Mana attempts to catch the fleeing Calloway's helicopter, but is stopped by an electrical cage generated by Calloway's weapon.

Later, back at Stark International, the real Ted Calloway turns up in a supply closet. Tony begins to ponder who could have impersonated Calloway when he receives an urgent call from Bethany. He partner, Ling McPherson, has been brutally beaten while on bodyguard duty, and is in critical condition at the hospital.

Continuity Notes: Tony notes that he just returned from London the morning of the party. And the party itself is attended by pretty much every Stark employee shown by Michelinie and Layton to date: Rhodey, Mrs. Arbogast, security chief Vic Martinelli, Scott Lang (with his daughter Cassie), Hal, an employee who appeared in the Hulk two-parter, Mr. Pithins the P.R. man, Dr. Erica Sondheim, who performed the Hulk's operation, and Yvette, the secretary from Stark's Paris branch (!). Iron Man himself, as an employee of Stark's, is present as well.

There are also a few employees in attendance who I either didn't recognize or are making their first appearances here, including a fellow named Mike, a Dr. Trudeau, and Dr. Ehrmann, Stark's head of medical services. A handful of friends have also been invited -- Bethany is there, as is Mrs. Arbogast's sister Uranus Bliss, who, in an utterly stupid "bit", is the same annoyed old lady who Tony manhandled twice when racing to change into Iron Man (issues 120 and 123). Lastly, Jarvis is also present, serving hors d'oeuvres.
A footnote reminds readers than Iron Man increased the heat resistant properties of his armor in issue #135. Ling's beating comes as an ambush meant for Bethany, by several thugs working for the Director, last mentioned as the Dreadnought's master in issue #129.

My Thoughts: I don't know if I've mentioned this before, but Bob Layton draws some really pretty women. His Bethany Cabe is always ravishing, and Ling McPherson is extremely cute as well. Unfortunately, Layton's grasp of anatomy is occasionally lacking, so when he pencils an issue, there are a handful of awkward poses and unnaturally elongated limbs. Beyond that, his layouts aren't usually terribly inspired. But the art is passable, at least.
As for the story, it's nice to see the Director revisited after eight issues. The "chapter one" in the issue's title would seem to indicate a multi-part storyline, which is something Michelinie and Layton have proved more than capable of handling, so I look forward to seeing what develops. Hopefully this will be of a similar caliber to the Justin Hammer storyline.

Also, I should note that we seem to be back to Bethany suspecting Iron Man and Tony are one and the same, as she enigmatically thinks, "Be careful, hero" as Iron Man flies into action. I'm really confused as to Michelinie's and Layton's intention with this thread, if indeed they even have some sort of intention.

1 comment:

  1. If I recall correctly, Bethany is on her way to becoming the first Marvel Girlfriend to figure out the Hero's secret identity on her own, rather than having it revealed to her, as Daredevil did to Karen Page and Tony to Whitney Frost. That's a milestone…at least until the "Mary Jane always knew" retcon.

    —Dan

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