Or – “I Remember The Original Issues…”

There’s nothing that makes one feel old quicker than reminding one of a beloved story that’s now two decades old.  When the original Armor Wars came out, I was in high school, with Armor Wars II hitting early in my comics career.  Will this issue shine new light on an old tale?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!


David and Bob doing what they love.
Classic Iron Man armor and shenanigans.

Why do this story NOW?
Pencils aren’t quite up to Layton’s inks.

Overall Rating: ★★★★½



IronManCoverIRON MAN #258.4
Writer: David Michelinie
Artist: Dave Ross
Finishes/Plot: Bob Layton
Letterer: Dave Lanphear
Colorist: Christ Sotomayor
Editor: Justin Gabrie
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously in Iron Man:  Years ago, Tony Stark was suffering from serious injuries obtained in the heat of battle, during which his spine was injured.  His doctor discovered a strange “biomass,” which was successfully taken out, but Tony’s recovery was marred by disaster after disaster, with Justin Hammer in the wings, and the lives of both Tony Stark and Iron Man in the crosshairs of a mysterious “entity”, who claims to be Tony Stark!  Last issue, Iron Man was left to die in the vacuum of space outside Hammer’s orbiting satellite headquarters, and as his air runs out, Tony is forced to make a decision that he would normally consider unthinkable…


…REVEALING HIS IDENTITY AS IRON MAN.  Sure, in the modern day, that’s old news thanks to RDJ, but back in 1990, the idea of going public with your identity was a big frickin’ deal.  But, the gambit leads Justin Hammer to let the dying Iron Man into his satellite, and the two big brains collaborate on what is happening with The Entity.  One of the great things about MIchelinie and Layton is that their work always feels retro and modern all at once, which allows this story to feel Summer of 1990 and Movie-Version all at once.  Sadly, though, David Ross isn’t a penciler particularly consistent with Layton’s super-precise style, which makes the Iron Man armor seem oddly bulbous, and many of the faces (particularly that of Justin Hammer) veiny and scratchy all at once.  (I think Veiny and Scratchy is Bart Simpson’s favorite cartoons, isn’t it?)  The plot is rather a by-the-numbers affair, with The Entity impersonating Tony Stark and taking over Stark Enterprises, while James Rhodes puts on the War Machine Armor for the first time, overcoming his fear of Tony’s machines after nearly burning to death a few years before.


While the story is enjoyable, there’s a question that keeps popping into my head:  Why sequelize (or pseudo-sequelize) a 25 year old issue NOW?  With Iron Man heading into space and going all Guardians Of The Galaxy, it seems like an odd time to throw out a retro book in the old-school mentality.  I can only assume that this somehow ties into the marketing for Iron Man 3, perhaps allowing lapsed fans back into the Marvel fold with the metaphorical toe in the cold water?  Either way, this issue doesn’t disappoint with the Iron Man-type action, even positing Entity-controlled alternate armors against Iron Man and War Machine during the shoot-em-up climax.  Oddly, it ends with Justin Hammer warning Stark that bad things may be coming now that he knows the truth about his identity, a bit of interesting foreshadowing that is pretty much nullified by the fact that 20 years have passed since the point in continuity where this took place.  Still, and all, Michilinie and Layton working together make for good comics, even if the marketing behind them is odd, and the book works well both as and arc-ender and as a love letter to Iron Man.


All in all, this story is a nice throwaway miniseries, good for adding depth and such to the lives of Tony and Rhodey, and not doing anything negative to the characters’ current status quo.  It looks nice, it reads smooth, it features one of the better looking retro armors in action, and shows all how cool Iron Man used to be…  Basically, Iron Man #258.4 serves as a nice, inoffensive comic book, maybe the one you’d use to get your friends who gave up comics back into Iron Man as a character, while someone feeling a bit inconsequential, nonetheless earning 3.5 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★★½☆



About Author

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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