Invincible Iron Man #2: Five Nightmares, Part Two: Murder, Inc.
General Thoughts: Visually, this is a really impressive book. Probably my favourite of the story arc! We get some great faces that are really expressive. M.O.D.O.G is also a treat to see and the opening action sequence is very well done. Panel layout and structure is also well used her (of note, the scene where Iron Man looks over the planet), which is a layout that Larroca comes to use more often in later issues.
One line that caught my eye, however, was Tony saying to Rhodey, “We’re piloting neutron bombs with facemasks”. I kind of disagree with this, as Iron Man (at least many times in the past) has been mentioned as being a tool used for saving lives, not for bombing things. Contrary to the times Fraction says it, the repulsor rays actually do have protective functions that can help with things like cleanup and building preservation.
Also, as a Filipino-Australian, I can’t help but think the introduced Triumph Division got the short straw in this issue.
Introduced, and within a matter of pages, they’ve been blown up. Bummer, huh? And there aren’t really many of those Buddhist monks that I’ve seen Manila, the ones Fraction used.
Also, “the job is its own reward” speech is a great way to start the issue.
It seems the nightmare theme has continued into this issue –as it should. It works as an over-arching connection between the actions of Ezekiel Stane and the responses from Iron Man. Because of this, the issue gives one of my favourite lines of dialogue in the whole story arc. It starts by Tony narrating: “Why is it so hard for us to imagine the impossible?” Well, because...
And then ends with: “That somehow ... somewhere ... in the world, the nightmare is becoming real.”
I find it to be a very – not profound, but probably only a few small steps away – that gives us a nice insight into superheroes in general. How often do we hear Spider-Man say something to the effect of “If I weren’t joking, I’d be crying”, or just the very sense of superheroes never giving up? It’s because to them, to heroes, there’s no such thing as impossible. To them, everything is achievable and to accept the impossible would be to give up. And giving up isn’t something Tony does all that often, if ever.
But no matter how much you might try to ignore it, the nightmare still happens. The impossible is still happening all around you. And this seems to be the case for Iron Man. His fifth nightmare in particular (that the person making his Iron Man cheap, easy to use and disposable is not him) becomes even more evident in this issue. The very transition between the aforementioned quote is to a scene of Ezekiel, watching his terror unleashed on the world.
Fraction has said of Zeke:
“Zeke is a post-national business man and kind of an open source ideological terrorist, he has absolutely no loyalty to any sort of law, creed, or credo. He doesn’t want to beat Tony Stark, he wants to make him obsolete. Windows wants to be on every computer desktop in the world, but Linux and Stane want to destroy the desktop. He’s the open source to Stark’s closed source oppressiveness. He has no headquarters, no base, and no bank account. He’s a true ghost in the machine; completely off the grid, flexible, and mobile. That absolutely flies in the face of Tony’s received business wisdom and in the way business is done. There are banks and lawyers and you have facilities and testing. Stane is a much more different animal. He’s a much smarter, more mobile, and much quicker to respond and evolved futurist.”
(“Much smarter” is debatable.)
But this is what seems to be the nightmare that Tony keeps talking about. The fact that, though he admits he’s a futurist in this issue, he is still fighting and thinking in a 20th century frame of mind. That Zeke’s tactics, his very being, is that of someone who is thinking in the 21st century framework. The two themes, nightmares and technology, are coming together ever closer. Tony’s repulsor technology is becoming a tool of destruction in the form of suicide bombings, something Tony had never thought would’ve happened.
Zeke Stane really comes into his own this issue. He has a fantastic scene where we are in on his temporary bases, and he’s getting geared up for some surgery work. The patient? Religious fanatics who are being fitted with exploding, repulsor arcs. We also have Sparky as a means to explore more of Stane’s mindset: he’s making (as shown above) repulsor tech cheap, and easy to use. Stane makes for a very entertaining villain, at least for me, as he’s more of a “digital age” villain as opposed to some of Tony’s more Cold War-origin villain. He’s someone who can match Tony’s intellect, and is now beginning to match his tech, as well.
And he does it all with a smile on his face (and his surgery mask).
It’s a gruesome thing, the scenes we get, adding to the visceral impression we’re getting of Stane. He works in a bloodied, dirty base while Tony is on his way to a wonderful, rich gala to celebrate intellect and sponsors and beautiful women. They are almost the same being, one wonders how Stane would have turned out if not for his father’s abuse (as we later see) and without an ingrained desire to better Tony Stark.
But when these two meet, what could have been an interesting conversation between two geniuses who are almost on the same page, disaster strikes. Tony’s nightmare has come to hit him in the face. Only problem is – it seems it’s hit Pepper over the head.
NEXT: Pepper Potts at the End of the World AND how There is Creation in Destruction!