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Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #30

Posted: Tuesday, June 17, 2008
By: Paul Brian McCoy

Stuart Moore
Roberto de la Torre, Carlo Pagulayan, Steve Kurth, et al.
Marvel Comics
Editor's Note: Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. #30 arrives in stores tomorrow, June 18.

"With Iron Hands: Part Two of Four"

What we've got here is a failure to communicate. Sort of. There are two storylines going on, and they are barreling towards one another as fast as a giant robotic brain can fly, but I'm not sure they really mesh very well.

And I'm definitely enjoying one storyline over the other. See if you can guess which one.

In one story, Iron Man and S.H.I.E.L.D. are starting to deal with the reality of miniaturized nukes with nanotech enhancements that essentially eat the radioactivity. This means, that you get atomic bomb blasts with none of the messy gums-bleeding-hair-falling-out-painful-sores-etc. that one would associate from using nuclear weapons. Apparently, these "thumbnail nukes" are intended to get revenge on/remove from power the totalitarian government of the Republic of Kirikhstan. The brains (no pun intended) behind these weapons is an old comrade of Stark's who may or may not have incorporated some of Stark's own technologies.

In the other story, a S.H.I.E.L.D. weapons designer named Nicholas Weir, pissed off that Tony Stark is now designing S.H.I.E.L.D. weaponry, has used his own nanotech to duplicate and upgrade the Overkill Horn. It immediately went out of control and turned itself into a giant flying robotic brain who's only intention is to detonate enemy weapons (especially nuclear weapons).

Futurama did the whole giant flying brain thing much better.

Oops. Did I give away which story I don't care for?

My initial reaction was to score this comic way lower than the average 3 bullet score I'm giving it. But that's really just because this story doesn't hold up to what the Knaufs have been doing with this title for the past couple of years. Sure, the thumbnail nukes story fits right in with their vision for the title, but the giant brain is just a little too silly for me. Though, I admit, it may be right up many readers' alleys. Especially given how hard-core techno-thriller this book has been. Maybe a blast of old-school melodramatic cheese is just what some readers have been missing.

Of course, for that, we did just have a new MODOK variation over in Fraction's book.

Here, it just seems out of place. Especially when Weir (surprisingly in custody after seemingly escaping last issue) gets recruited by the Giant Flying Brain (technically, it's called the Overkill Brain, but that's so silly, it might as well just be called Giant Flying Brain), and together they set out to humiliate Tony Stark. You see? Just writing that makes me want to lower the score again.

There's a guest appearance this issue by a character I liked when I was a kid, but now just seems to be a prick. Oh well. He's actually in the story I like, and succeeds in bringing the quality of that storyline down a notch, too. Maybe this does deserve a lower score. Hmmmm.

The art doesn't really mesh at all this month, which is another issue I have with the book. The opening flashback is nicely done (but I don't know who's responsible for it - maybe Pagulayan and Huet?), although the inking is a bit non-descript, lacking variety of line weight and being a bit loose (or sketchy, if you like). Dean White's colors help to provide depth and an almost soft-focus pallette that I like. de la Torre's art is superb, as usual. The heavy inks help create a sense of weight and power, especially to Iron Man himself. And Kurth and Hennessy's pages at the conclusion of the issue, aren't bad (and are definitely better than their work in newuniversal: Shockfront and the Marvel Boy section in Secret Invasion: Who Do You trust?) but the characters are still a little warped and twisted and just plain ugly to look at. I also prefer their version of the Giant Flying Brain, mainly for the clunky, ugly look of it.

What can I say? I like bulky tech. You should see my cell phone and MP3 player.

Overall, the two stories don't seem to fit together for me, although I wouldn't object to them in separate titles. The art also fails to come together as smoothly as it has previously on this title, which draws me out of the story while I'm reading it. It's not a bad chapter, per se, but it's not up to the standards set by the Knaufs.







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