Iron Man vol. 3 #2
Marvel Comics (March, 1998)
WRITER: Kurt Busiek
PENCILER: Sean Chen
INKERS: Eric Cannon with Sean Parsons & Al Milgrom
LETTERING: Comicraft (whoever “DL” is)
EDITOR: Bobbie Chase
Tony’s first client is in Switzerland, hired by Countess Stephanie De La Spirosa. The last time they met things didn’t go well, since she was trying to use him to expose Iron Man’s identity. (This is back when he maintained a secret identity. I miss those days.) However, instead of going over the books she keeps distracting him with fun. Suspecting something is up, Iron Man finds a secret factory beyond her factory and is attacked by a group calling themselves the Siege Engineers. Iron Man barely escapes, and the next day Tony finds the Countess has some guests that she’s quite scarred of. A fight ensues between Tony and the visitors, and then Iron Man deals with the rest of the Siege Engineers until their mysterious employer sends Dreadnoughts to attack all of them.
What they got right: Like I said, I like the idea of Tony running a consulting firm. It allows him access to all kinds of adventures he never had before. The story overall was pretty good and so was the action. It was a short but decent mystery, a taste of what this concept could have been as was going to be since this isn’t his last consulting gig. Using a woman who betrayed Tony once before and bringing up the question as to whether or not she’s doing it again was a good angle, although it was necessarily cut short for the story.
What they got wrong: I’ll wait on the big rant until the news drops or it’s unavoidable, but there is the start of something here that I really didn’t like about this run. It involves Happy and Pepper, so Iron Fans probably know what I mean. There’s also a panel when one of the Mandarin’s attendants…yeah, I don’t remember for sure because this is the second time I’ve read through this since I bought it, but it’s obviously the Mandarin…is talking to her master and for some reason the shadow across her face is so thick that she looks like she’s wearing a facemask or possibly a turtleneck sweater. Was Chen having that much trouble drawing her mouth that day? I know I’ve had days like this and I’m not even in his league.
Other Notes: One thing the early storylines in this volume did was return to old characters, like the Countess or having Happy and Pepper working for Tony again, and I have mixed feelings. It’s mostly based on what happens to Pepper and especially Happy (especially much later on) that I have problems with it, but at least for this storyline reusing the Countess isn’t too bad. It does feel like the title is both stuck in the past and looking to the future and while I don’t hate it I wasn’t as wowed as I wanted to be as that continued. Especially given what happens to Tony in a later storyline. It beats Heroes Reborn at least.
Recommendation: I’m still enjoying the story. It’s worth taking a look at.