Or – “How To Really Over-Think Both The Title And The Concept.”

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I don’t think there’s any question that Marvel intends for us to be morally bothered by the actions of Iron Man during and after the Civil War. Even with Joey Da Q’s constant reiteration of the mantra that “in the real world we’d want these people to be licensed and trained,” (an argument which is irrelevant, I might add) the actions of Iron Man are beyond reprehensible. This issue only serves to underline the fact that Tony Stark has officially gone around the bend, and it’s just a matter of time before someone has to take him down…

This is, technically, the third issue of ‘Fallen Son,’ but it’s the first one I could stomach the recapping process on. Maybe that sounds harsh, but I can boil down the first one by saying “Wolverine sure is irritable,” to which even the least jaded twelve-year-old in America would say “No $#!+, Skolnick.” I can pretty effectively recap the second Cap1.jpgvolume by saying “I like the Thing and the return of the floating poker game, but other than that, there were a few good character moments, and a ton of blah, blah, blah.” The overall conceit of this not-precisely-a-miniseries is based on the five stages of grief: Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression, Acceptance. We’re up to bargaining, and the solicitations for this issue were deliberately vague about what we were going to see. Since it purports to star Captain America, and he’s the guy we’re supposed to be grieving over, you know there’s gotta be some sort of chicanery goin’ on. But what will it be (besides another bowling-shoe-ugly Michael Turner variant cover monstrosity, I mean.) We begin our story outside of the old Avengers Mansion, at some point prior to Mighty Avengers #1 and New Avengers #27, as a man in street clothes prepares a transmitter, attached to the head of a special arrow, then fires it into the sky with his bow. “Come on, come on, come on… I know you’ve got your ears on,” he mutters. Suddenly, strains of ‘Ride of The Valkyries’ echo through the streets and a spotlight shines down as Der Iron Dictator rockets down from on high. Anne Frank and her family remain completely silent as Stark tries to disbelieve the illusion spell…

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Iron Man does the entire scan, biological, voiceprint, age, weight, boxer shorts size, and all his systems clearly identify this man as Clint Barton, former carnie worker, former Avengers, and by all accounts, formerly alive. Clint, you may remember, died stupidly at the end of Avengers Disassembled, but was mystically resurrected when The Scarlet Witch rewrote reality during House of M. That sentence, by the way, means that anyone from Marvel who mocks the infamous “Superboy punch” hasn’t really seized quite as much of the moral high ground as they think. In any case, Iron Man can’t quite believe it, asking Clint “How is it possible?” “I don’t want to talk about that now,” replies the former Hawkeye…

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What THE HELL? This is UNCONSCIONABLE! You’re a #)@$#@ FEDERAL AGENT, Stark! You can’t just punch out and detain citizens, even citizens who are believed to be dead! Anthony Stark is officially now Doctor Doom, ladies and gentlemen, right down to having created a group of subordinates in his image to do his bidding. Doom has his doombots, Iron Man has his little armored jack-booted thugs. He takes his unconscious prisoner, and sticks him in a medical tank, ala ‘Empire Strikes Back’ and runs every test imaginable to prove that it’s Hawkeye… or maybe prove that it’s not. Once the test are in, it’s obviously Clint, and one of his subordinates asks what Iron Dictator thinks ex-Goliath wants. “It doesn’t matter what he wants. It matters what this country needs.” And by ‘this country’ he means ‘Tony Stark, the only part of this country that matters even a whit to me.’ #*@!^% tin-plated tyrant… Hawkeye awakes, some time later, saying “Even my hangover has a hangover…” Heh.

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‘You should THANK me?’ What the HELL is Tony’s damage? Why is he turning into such a drama queen? ‘Now that I *AM* the government, I don’t think you’re paying enough taxes to insure fealty to my wonderfulness. Off with your heads!’ Schmuck. Hawkeye, apparently, is used to Stark being a high-handed cock-rocket, and so replies to the “I want to show you something” with “If you’re going to show me a dead body, I’ve SEEN dead bodies.” No, Tony says, it’s something much better… Clint’s jaw drops as he sees… THE shield (in a scene shown way up top.) “That’s the real deal,” Tony says. “We had two others made. Flawed, but they’ll pass inspection. One for the Smithsonian. The public deserves that. The other will be… in the coffin.” Tony’s ‘hail-fellow-well-met’ facade slips a bit here, and I see a tiny shred of the man I might have once admired, but he quickly irks me again. “What are you going to do with THIS one,” asks Hawk. Tony gives him a smug face, and asks if he wants to take it for a spin…

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And right there, we see it… the obvious heir to the legacy, more obvious than even The Winter Soldier. He’s the man who WILL uphold what Captain America stands for, even to the death. Clint has the line of the issue, right before he throws the shield… “I feel like I’m diddling my best friend’s wife.” Iron Man quickly harrumphs that he doesn’t know about that (LIAR! YOU MADE A PLAY FOR THE WASP WHILE SHE WAS STILL MARRIED TO HANK! JERK!) Also, the layout on the page is MUCH more striking than this, but I couldn’t make it fit as a horizontal image. If you’re reading this, John Romita, Junior, I owe you an apology. Sometimes the limitations of internet images really hork my cheese… Either way, Iron Man says he has to go to work, and invites Clint to come along. We cut immediately to Firebrand fighting against Young Avengers Patriot and… Hawkeye. Uh oh. Clint asks who the kids are, and even with a question this simple, Tony can’t give a straight answer.

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That’s the exact look that came over the faces of every Marvel hero or villain who was replaced by a hot girl in tight pants: Bloodstone, The Scorpion, Doctor Octopus, even Spider-Man himself has found a hot young lady stealing his thunder. I think it’s pathological, or something. The kids take out Firebrand (quite effectively, too) and then Iron Man takes off, telling Clint that it’s time to go to work. Barton is very confused, wondering why they didn’t get involved and HELP the Young Avengers, but he doesn’t realize that Iron Man doesn’t fight villains any more, his only action consists of attacks on heroes who have the gall to do what he used to do without his express written consent.

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Hawkeye (the female one) fires an arrow at Iron Man, but he casually catches it, and starts to chide them. “You’re only making this–” The arrow suddenly explodes, and his armor warns him of the electromagnetic pulse a minute too late. As they run, Patriot is surprised by the EMP arrow, and very impressed when he hears she got it from The Black Panther. They mention Luke Cage, and how he’s going to be royally &!$$ed at them, confirming that this battle takes place at the exact same time as the poker game in the Fallen Son: Avengers issue. The kids nearly escape, but they’re headed off by the familiar clang of shield on brick, and the turn to confront… Captain America. “Who the @#$@ are you supposed to be?” bulls Patriot, obviously offended that somebody would have the unmitigated gall to impersonate the super-soldier. “Who do you think I am?” replies Clint. “I don’t know. PICK A NAME. And it BETTER not start with “Captain America,” because THAT AIN’T YOU!” Eli is mightily angry, but “Cap” merely mentions that his friend is calling herself Hawkeye, another dead hero’s name. She says she just wants to honor Hawkeye’s memory, and that it was Cap himself who gave her the bow (not entirely the truth, mind you.) “We’re just trying to do the job. LEARN the job. INSPIRED by our heroes. Not PRETENDING to be one of them.” The words apparently affect Clint greatly, but she’s not done. “The second you put on THAT uniform, it’s a different argument… I never dressed up like Hawkeye, even when he wore a headband and a skirt.” Clint’s face is priceless at that. “Years later, and people STILL make fun of the skirt.” She tells him that if that’s the real shield, then what he’s doing is just wrong, as Iron Man arrives…

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Iron Man starts the spiel again, but Barton interrupts. “You nearly had me… You can take emotion and make it sound like logic. Just like how you got everyone to support this idiotic registration.” Tony tries to explain, but Hawkeye points out that just because he’s been dead doesn’t mean he can’t read. “This country NEEDS Captain America,” Tony continues. “Especially NOW. Can’t you see how soothing it would be for people– Knowing that Captain America will live on?” Clint, as always, cuts straight to the heart of the matter. “People? Or YOU, Tony?” He hammers home this issues theme, by telling Tony he can’t bargain away the loss of a friend, or his culpability for part of it, and that nobody can make the pain go away by trading another Captain America for the one they miss (the one that Tony ALLOWED to be killed.)

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Tony’s little threat there just serves to illustrate how afraid he is, how guilty he feels, and how far he’s fallen. The fact that The Director of SHIELD couldn’t protect a respected friend and colleague from being murdered when SHIELD was HANDLING the transfer must weigh on him something awful. But frankly, I don’t care. Iron Man’s been in charge of SHIELD for about ten minutes, and each mission we’ve seen is a bigger monomanical disaster then the last. You’d be better off with The Blob running a Baskin Robbins, and the profit margin would probably be higher. The things he’s done to Bruce Banner, to Jennifer Walters, to Steve Rogers, to Clint Barton, and to the Marvel Universe itself cannot and should not be forgiven. Marvel has succeeded in one thing: nothing will ever be the same again, because Iron Man is unsalvageable. We can all rest assured that someday, somewhere, we’ll see Captain America again, but we’ll never be able to look at that red and gold armor without thinking about The Iron Dictator. For a book with an overblown emotional message hammer, this read VERY well. Jeph Loeb is a better plotter than he is emotional conversation writer, but most all of the dialogue here went down smooth, save the “EVERYBODY GOT THAT? THE MESSAGE, I MEAN!” inherent in Hawkeye’s last speech, and even that felt organic to Clint’s words. He had a bone to pick with Iron Man, after all, and needed to hammer home his point. The former Hawkeye looks really good in the red, white and blues, and I think that after some time has passed, I’d like to see him in the suit. Somebody online opinined recently that this book needed to come out weekly after Cap #25, and I’m inclined to agree. The amount of time between issues (combined with the decompressed storytelling where a ten minute conversation takes six months in the Avengers titles) is killing the momentum of the story. On the eve of Planet Hulk, I’ve a sneaking suspicion that Cap’s death is about to shoved aside by a new flavor of the week. But, that’s the nature of one-upsmanship. You set a precedent of having to always ‘top’ everything that came before, and, as a consequence, nothing seems to matter. Next Wednesday will bring the NEXT Next Big Thing. This was a well-done issue, beautifully drawn by JR, Jr. worthy of it’s 4 out of 5 star rating, and I enjoyed it more than the previous two combined. But in a month or two, when the next big crossover is in full swing, will we even remember that it happened?

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.

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27 Comments

  1. davek
    May 22, 2007 at 2:02 pm — Reply

    I have never been a fan of Hawkeye as a character, and I even collected the first issues of West Coast Avengers, but this sole issue makes Clint Barton probably one of the best characters I’ve ever seen in the entirety of the Marvel Universe. Truly, there is not one false note in the portrayal and although he was brought back by deus ex machina, this is a much better character than before. Not only does he stand up to Stark without a flinch, but in this portrayal, you get the impression that Barton really could take down Stark at that moment of confrontation. (At least before Stark calls in all of SHIELD, the Thunderbolts and Ultimate Nullifier. For security reasons of course.)

    Somewhere I read a review of this that indicated Clint voices what everyone has been thinking and truly confronts Stark, and I had a lot of reservations. I take them all back.

    And yes. Stark has never seemed so small before. To quote the red cheese… shazam.

  2. Josh
    May 22, 2007 at 2:07 pm — Reply

    I think it’s funny that Clint has a good point about what is being done about Cap’s assassination. Iron Dictator hasn’t done anything other than try to replace him.

    Sharon, Bucky and Falcon are the only ones actually trying to figure out what actually happened.

  3. May 22, 2007 at 2:16 pm — Reply

    I have just never thought of Tony Stark as such a “play it safe, protect my own wealth and position” kind of guy. This is the man who stopped making weapons for SHIELD and then fended off a hostile takeover when they didn’t like it. This is the man who BUILT his own superhero identity, out of cheap Vietnam steel and chutzpah.

    How does THAT MAN become such a goose-stepping, entrenched, defender-of-the-status-quo-even-when-you-yourself-know-it-sucks, toss-an-old-comrade-in-a-hole-wrapped-in-a-filthy-tarp-without-any-dignity, bug-Spider-Man’s-marital-bedroom, autocratic control-freak @*$#tard?

    Two words:

    Editorial.

    Caveat.

  4. davek
    May 22, 2007 at 2:28 pm — Reply

    Speaking of Bucky, I gotta say the Winter Soldier has continually proven a winner. Again, something I had low expectations regarding but man, they knocked it out of the park. The character works as a character-driven piece, or purely action.

    The fanboy in me just wondered who would win – Winter Soldier or Punisher. No, no, don’t tell me.

  5. May 22, 2007 at 2:33 pm — Reply

    Would the Blob get a higher margin than 19.8 Mil?

    Anyho, I’d just liek to say that I love JR jr.’s Bulky iron ma…sort of similar to the cool Robot Dude in Alan Moore’s “Top Ten: The Forty-Niners”, who was partially based on him. Romita should definetly be the new Iron Man artist.

  6. May 22, 2007 at 2:50 pm — Reply

    The fanboy in me just wondered who would win – Winter Soldier or Punisher. No, no, don’t tell me.

    Winter Soldier. Just because people overestimate Frank Castle… :)

  7. May 22, 2007 at 2:52 pm — Reply

    Would the Blob get a higher margin than 19.8 Mil?

    Using your own money to cover your business shortfalls is not the same as balancing the budget. I believe it’s also probably illegal…

  8. davek
    May 22, 2007 at 3:14 pm — Reply

    You know, talking more about fanboy match-ups – I was thinking this morning that the poll regarding Captain America vs. Batman is inaccurate, because I don’t think it’s a fair match-up. Sure, fighting skill, pound-for-pound, it’s a good question. But I somehow doubt that Captain America had formulated a fighting plan for someone like the Batman, whereas I wholly believe that somewhere in the Batfiles, Bruce Wayne devised a fighting plan for “A Combatant Revived From World War II That Wields a Throwing Shield.” Just in case. (That man needs a TV.)

    However, a more interesting question in my mind is, who would win between Batman and Iron Man, solely on the merits of their planning?

    …and now we geek.

  9. May 22, 2007 at 3:54 pm — Reply

    Well, now, that is a conundrum…

    I reluctantly give the edge to Batman. Certainly Iron Man has the ability to deal with a non-powered super detective with stealth abilities and gadgets, but Batman has the advantage, in that he almost certainly has a outlined a plan to deal with Lex Luthor, a millionaire industrialist who considers himself to be a “futurist,” has a penchant for armor, connections with the government (including a high position of power which he tended to abuse), as well as a tendency to underestimate his opponents because he’s blinded by his own awesome.

    Yeah, Batman…

  10. Mark I.
    May 22, 2007 at 4:20 pm — Reply

    I can’t post from work anymore! Arg…unless this works?

  11. Tally
    May 22, 2007 at 4:40 pm — Reply

    I have just never thought of Tony Stark as such a “play it safe, protect my own wealth and position” kind of guy. This is the man who stopped making weapons for SHIELD and then fended off a hostile takeover when they didn’t like it. This is the man who BUILT his own superhero identity, out of cheap Vietnam steel and chutzpah.

    How does THAT MAN become such a goose-stepping, entrenched, defender-of-the-status-quo-even-when-you-yourself-know-it-sucks, toss-an-old-comrade-in-a-hole-wrapped-in-a-filthy-tarp-without-any-dignity, bug-Spider-Man’s-marital-bedroom, autocratic control-freak @*$#tard?

    Two words:

    Editorial.

    Caveat. (M. Peterson)

    And 2 more… Joey Q… who is apparently hell-bent on wrecking the Marvel Universe icon by icon. Cap…Tony…Pete and MJ…just one CFD after another…how is this guy running anything but a paycopier at the Post Office?

  12. Mark I.
    May 22, 2007 at 4:43 pm — Reply

    I think Marvel ran out of plotlines for Iron Man last year and just decided to adapt the Black Sabbath song to comics.

    To wit:

    “Has he lost his mind? Can he see or is he blind?”
    I think Tony Stark’s actions give an obvious answer.

    Then there’s some lyrics which don’t really apply…yet. (“Can he walk at all…”) After that:

    “He was turned to steel, in a great magnetic field, where he traveled time, for the future of mankind.”
    He’s part machine thanks to the Extremis virus, and he’s traveled time often, most notably when “Teen Tony” appeared for the time preceding Heroes Reborn.

    “Nobody wants him, he just stares at the world. Planning his vengeance, that he will soon unfold.”
    “Now the time is near for Iron Man to spread fear. Vengeance from the grave, kills the people he once saved.”
    He was “revived” by Franklin Richards, planned the acts that led to Civil War, and he’s saved Captain America and Goliath a few times, hasn’t he?

    “Nobody wants him, they just turn their heads. Nobody helps him, now he has his revenge.”
    Is there anyone left helping Stark because they GENUINELY want to HELP? Or hasn’t he just manipulated, bribed, or blackmailed everyone into doing his bidding?

    “Heavy boots of lead, fills his victims full of dread. Running fast as they can, Iron Man lives again!”
    Indeed. Ozzy, call your lawyer.

  13. May 22, 2007 at 4:47 pm — Reply

    I can’t post from work anymore! Arg…unless this works?

    It worked, but the site flagged you (for some reason) as Spam. Should be fixed, though…

  14. May 22, 2007 at 4:59 pm — Reply

    Mark: Also remember all posts are moderated to keep spam out, meaning Matthew or I have to approve all messages before they appear on the site. This means there could be a slight delay from when you write your post to when it actually appears on the site.

    I wish I could do it a different way, but with all the smart spam out there I can’t afford to have spam posts flooding the site. Luckily Akismet has caught over 30,000 spam posts in the last 10 months! WooHoo!

  15. Tally
    May 22, 2007 at 4:59 pm — Reply

    Basically, if any member of SHIELD (except Nick Fury or Sharon Carter) or any pro-reg hero appears in a book, skip that issue or dump the series from the old pull box… cos none of them are worth reading unless you enjoy having your blood presure spike around 300/200… will someone please change the locks on Joey Q’s office and take away Bendis’ pencil for a while?

  16. Brent F.
    May 22, 2007 at 5:29 pm — Reply

    The stiff look Iron Man has in this issue makes him look like a Sentinel.

  17. davek
    May 22, 2007 at 6:21 pm — Reply

    The stiff look Iron Man has in this issue makes him look like a Sentinel.

    To quote Garrison Keillor, how do you know he’s not?

  18. Maximus Rift
    May 22, 2007 at 8:02 pm — Reply

    Amen Mr. Peterson, Amen. MJ and Peter is the last straw for me. X-Men is probably next on his list. Anyone know a good hitman? :p

    BTW, what’s the equivalent to “Superboy PUNCH!” in Marvel? “Scarlet Witch Spasm!”?

  19. Maximus Rift
    May 22, 2007 at 8:09 pm — Reply

    Oh yeah. Don’t expect any changes soon. Marvel sales are up, and that will only encourage Joe Q.

  20. May 22, 2007 at 8:41 pm — Reply

    Mark: Also remember all posts are moderated to keep spam out, meaning Matthew or I have to approve all messages before they appear on the site.

    “One’s a college instructor… One’s a counter-monkey…

    But together, they are: SPAM COPS!! A Quinn Martin Production…”

  21. May 22, 2007 at 8:44 pm — Reply

    BTW, what’s the equivalent to “Superboy PUNCH!” in Marvel? “Scarlet Witch Spasm!”?

    SCARLET WITCH REMARK!!!

  22. Brent F.
    May 22, 2007 at 8:47 pm — Reply

    Scarlet Witch’s time of the month.

    Someone had to go there.

  23. May 22, 2007 at 8:53 pm — Reply

    I question the “had to” part. But, at least now we can move on… :)

  24. baal
    May 23, 2007 at 3:14 am — Reply

    You know, I was stunned too (after the first two installments) that this Fallen Son installment was not only good but one of the best books that I bought last week. hawkeye especially surprised me because the character has almost consistently bored me since he was wearing a headband and skirt and now he’s made two appearnces in one month that make me care.

  25. Kienan
    May 23, 2007 at 8:19 am — Reply

    I think the reason that he is interesting now is, like Nova, he is the guy on the outside. He comes back into a world he didn’t leave and he sees it the same way most of us do; a twisted, confusing, and backwards version of a world we once loved. There is something that we can relate to.Also, like, Nova, he isn’t afraid to get in Starks face and knock him down the hundred or so pegs he needs to be knocked down.

  26. Brent F.
    May 23, 2007 at 10:56 am — Reply

    I don’t like the idea of Clint becoming the next Captain America. I still think it should be someone like Nick Fury. Imagine the former director of SHIELD continuing Steve Rogers’ fight where he left off.

    Nick Fury, formerly of SHIELD, using the most famous shield in history to take back his position and rescue America from the iron clad grip of a mad man.

  27. May 24, 2007 at 4:58 pm — Reply

    I think the reason that he is interesting now is, like Nova, he is the guy on the outside. He comes back into a world he didn’t leave and he sees it the same way most of us do; a twisted, confusing, and backwards version of a world we once loved.

    True, that. I’m expecting Nova to put down the Thunderbolts, grab Penance for a talk, realize that things are so broken that the public prefers psychopaths over Captain America and the Initiative is using a mentally ill kid as a tool rather than putting him in a hospital where he belongs. And go back to Tony, say “you people are *crazy*, I’m leaving” and take off for space again.

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