Wednesday, April 9, 2014

IRON MAN #157

"SPORES!"
Plot/Pencils: Alan Kupperberg | Script: David Michelinie | Inks: Dan Green
Letters: Joe Rosen | Colors: Bob Sharen | Editor: Jim Salicrup
Editor-in-Chief: Jim Shooter

The Plot: Tony is working late at night on his armor when the power to his lab goes out. Changing to Iron Man, he finds that a Stark employee named Sylvia Karnowsky has drawn energy to her experiment through his lab. Before he can reprimand her, Iron Man is beamed to a sentient spaceship in orbit, where he helps the ship fight off some alien spores. Following the skirmish, Iron Man is beamed back to Earth.

Continuity Notes: This has to be an inventory issue. It's a done-in-one adventure, with absolutely no references to ongoing continuity. Presumably, with Michelinie leaving the series, Jim Salicrup ran this story while looking for a new writer.

My Thoughts: So this is how the David Michelinie/Bob Layton run ends -- not with a bang, as they say, but with a whimper. Though to be fair, I suppose last issue was really the end of Michelinie's term as writer. This is just a lackluster coda. Still, though, it's always a little depressing to get to the end of a classic comic book run and watch it fade slowly and limply to its conclusion. Much like watching the final season of a formerly favorite TV show right before its cancellation.

But I would rather remember this run for its strong points, and there were many of them. Michelinie and Layton gave us several elements which have become integral parts of Iron Man's mythos: the specialty armors, Jim Rhodes, Bethany Cabe, Mrs. Arbogast, the rivalry with Dr. Doom, and of course, the alcoholism.

I don't know a lot about Tony Stark's characterization prior to this run, but I've always had the impression he was a bit of a stick in the mud. If true, then it was Michelinie and Layton who gave us the carefree playboy version of Stark -- the iteration with which most people are familiar thanks to the movies. This Tony is also flagrantly rich, dropping tons of cash on the smallest problems, socializing at exclusive clubs, flying around in a private jet and vacationing on his own private island. He's the sort of character you love to read about because you feel a little jealous of his lifestyle.

And of course, there's Layton's artwork. Whether paired with John Romita, Jr. or another artist (or penciling himself), Layton's Iron Man always glittered, his armor impeccably waxed and shiny. Layton's men were handsome beefcakes, and his women were gorgeous and sexy. It would be hard to find a style more perfectly suited to Tony Stark's world than Bob Layton's.

It's been a fun forty-three issues. I'm not certain when I'll get back to Iron Man around these parts. There's a lot more other stuff I'd like to cover. But the Denny O'Neil run and the second Michelinie/Layton run are both available in full on Marvel Digital Unlimited, plus I have an IRON MAN BY KURT BUSIEK & SEAN CHEN OMNIBUS burning a hole in my bookcase, so who knows? At the very least I would like to cover all the remaining Michelinie/Layton issues... someday.

2 comments:

  1. how do you feel about the run after dave michelinie?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I have to admit that I haven't read a lot of IRON MAN outside of Michelinie/Layton. I've read bits of the Denny O'Neil run that immediately followed them and I found it to be kind of depressing. I really like their second run, though I've only read about half of it. And I've read John Byrne's brief run from the early nineties, which was all right but didn't exactly blow me away.

      Beyond all those, the only other extended run I've read was the one by Kurt Busiek and Sean Chen. I recall liking it well enough, but for me it couldn't hold a candle to Busiek's AVENGERS run which was ongoing at the same time. Someday I do want to re-read that run though, to see if it holds up better in one big chunk.

      Delete