Sunday, February 7, 2010

Invincible Iron Man Issue #23

Last time in Tony Stark's Ca Ca Coma Face, Ca Ca Coma Face: Tony's brilliant plan of electrocute me and I'll totally wake up... didn't really work that way. So he's still lying there, can't read my, can't read my, you can't read my coma face... With the Ghost on their trail, Maria, Pepper and that old doctor guy and the biddy from the hotel took to ground. And Cap brought in the big guns: Magic Tony! I mean, Dr. Strange!

Invincible Iron Man #23: Ghosts in the Machine


Tony and Strange are inside the run down shack in his brain. Tony is sitting on the floor still awestruck by the vision of Strange standing over him. Strange is all glowy and Strange like with his flowing cape.

Tony: "That the hell's the Iron Man?"

Strange: "Interesting affection. You said "the." Not "an" or "Iron Man"--you called it "The Iron Man." Where I come from You're the only one that does that."

Tony: "Where you come from." Where do you come from? Where are we and how did you get here? What the hell is going on?"

Strange: "My name is Stephen Strange and I'm here to help you."

Two problems with this. One, you introduced yourself in the last issue you ass, and two... he didn't ask who you are he asked how you got there, where they are and what the hell is going on. Way to make this all about you, Strange. You f--

Strange: "Your name is Tony Stark and you've suffered a profound and traumatic brain injury." That's putting it mildly. "This place--this life you perceive yourself living--these are ghost dreams, my friend. The last phantom bits of information left inside of you. You are Iron Man. Iron Man is you. And we need you back and I'm here to help that process along. Say it. Try the thought on for size."

Tony: "I am Iron Man."

They're sitting on the floor, Tony looks pouty and lost. Strange looks like his angry twin brother. The sad thing is the only reason I know the difference is that Strange has a glow around him and he's wearing a cape. That's just... yeah that's...

Anyway, after Tony says "I am Iron Man" the chest plate starts to glow in the middle. Tony says it again and then Strange does some magic and papers fly around. Tony continues to say that he's Iron Man and Strange tells him to keep doing it and concentrate. Tony stands with a yell and the repulsor in his chest glows as two more appear in his palms. And his clothes become gold. Haha, get it? The Golden Avenger. Nicely played. When that's over, Tony touches the repulsor in his chest sort of looking like a gay man who likes his outfit...

Tony: "What was that? Was that magic?"

Strange: "No. I told you: this is all in your head and none of it is actually happening."

Tony: "How can--really? Because it feels real. Howard and Maria, the terror, the pain--if it's not really happening why should I care? If it's not real why am I afraid?"

Strange basically tells Tony that if he believes these things that is what makes them real. If he believes it hard enough then that is why he feels pain, if he believes he die then he will. He asks Tony why he believes himself to be here and then tells him that they're going to solve it. Because if Tony Stark can't fix himself, Doctor Strange sure can.


Maria, Pepper, the Doctor and that old bitch stand there watching Strange and Tony. Maria wonders what they should do now and then the doctor and the hotel lady excuse themselves to go back to the hotel, where they will engage in disgusting old people sex. I mean, he offers to escort her back and he's not getting any younger. He can prescribe himself Viagara. And well, she might not be a looker but maybe he's a chubby chaser. Hill warns them to be careful because something is brewing.

Pepper doesn't like the sound of that and asks her what she means. Maria tells her not to worry about it. The two of them idly chat, Maria looks board by Pepper discussing that she misses the arc reactor already, how it made her stronger and smarter and better. How she realized that was how Tony must of felt all the time... and then she spills the goods. The meat of the conversation... and the resounding screams of everyone who hates the idea of Pepper/Tony spreads throughout nerdom. Yours truly included.

Pepper: "It's funny--how it all worked--I was finally the alleged smart one and we still slept together."

Maria: "You what?"

Fuck you, Matt Fraction. I trusted you. I defended you that you wouldn't have Pepper sleep with Tony. I thought you knew better. You like Pepper, you know she's smart enough to not sleep with Tony even without the arc reactor, you know that she can do better, that she knows she can do better and this? This is how you repay me? And... and I was so happy you got your Eisner. You wound me...

Pepper: "I know. I know. Of all people I should know better. But-- but we were on the run. We were in Russia and it--" What? It was cold? "You should've seen him--so helpless, and guileless, and--"

Maria: "Potts, I'm not screwing around here--you and Tony--you--"

Pepper: "Maria, I--yes okay? Tony and I--why do you--"

Maria: "I--we--before it all started at the Funtime Inc. hide out of his--that creepy place this whole insane thing off his kicked off. Before he ran, we--we..."

The two of them exchange a glance knowing exactly how Maria is going to end that thought. They look at Tony and each panel shows the progression of their thought. First they stare at Tony, then Maria looks at Pepper, Pepper looks at Maria and they both look back at Tony. Pepper puts her hand to her head, Maria her hands to her hips. They are not pleased. That's okay, ladies. Tony leaves a trail of broken hearts and empty beds in every arc. He slept with Rhodey, Henry, and even Namor too...

Maria: "Tony Stark. Tony @%&$@# Stark."

Maybe Tony shouldn't wake up... because these two are going to fuck him up...

Tosche Station

Tony is moving to sit down with Strange again, who is cool as a cucumber and pouring tea from a... a mug that appeared from no where. Oh Strange and your magics, even in Tony's head you're doing that crap.

Tony: "Hm. I'm in trouble, aren't I?"

Strange: "You really are, yes. And I have no idea how to get you out other than to help keep you moving forward."

Tony looks at him skeptically and basically lays out what's been happening since the beginning of this arc. The digging, the flashes of memory the stop, repeat and move on. How he feels like when he does something wrong it starts over but if he does something right it doesn't skip or repeat. How he found oranges and teeth and then they get erased and now the RoboCops are after him.

Tony: "They're looking for me. They took Howard and Maria away. They knew the Sentries knew. They took them to the Bureaucrat."

Strange: "The Bureaucrat. Tell me about the Bureaucrat."

Tony: "All of this might be in my head, okay, but the Bureaucrat--the Bureaucrat is real. Everyone here works for him. We dig this stuff up and who knows what he does with it but if you don't then you die. And you can say this is all in my head but, but, but--"

Okay so here's my theory on the bureaucrat. It's either a psychological manifestation of the danger presented by Norman Osborn as Tony was on the run from him during the previous arc, deleting his brain and all it's contents. The RoboCops there by being his tech used against him by Osborn. Or, it's Tony's own subconscious fear of returning to life preventing him from doing so in the guise of a threat he has yet to meet... being a super-hero and a former corporate rockstar, a villain with political power would be a logical explanation for Tony to use as a barricade between his mind and the world.

Strange: "Stark, listen to me. A second ago I had a cup of tea. Saucer and all. Where did it go? Where did the chest plate go? Why does this room lok like it's going to blow apart? You're a man suffering profound brain trauma. These... bits... of information... you're struggling to weave a logical narrative out of chaos. There's some thought you need to have, some... threshold, deep within you, that you feel you need to cross so you can move on."

Wait... I'm confused... did Tony suffer brain trauma? Thanks for being repetitive.

Tony asks how the hell he can be afraid of something in his own head. Strange condescends to Tony about how he's talking to him like he's still the smartest man in the world, and not the bumbling retard he is now (Sorry, Sarah Palin but I'm using that word and you can't ask me to resign from shit. Have fun reading speeches off your hand...). That was nice of you, Strange.

He rambles on about how Howard and Maria probably know what he would do or how to help because they're good people and they were kind to him. They wouldn't have been if he was someone to fear. Strange suggests they go find them then and rescue them from the Bureaucrat. Then some more magic happens and strange is floating and Tony is watching him fly through a hole in the roof. He's afraid of the things inside him which... I think might be the repulsor tech.

Back at the hotel, the old people are having some after sex tea and that's gross. Ghost laments his failure to kill Stark to Madam Masque via the Ghost phone. They took off and he can't find them. It's not Whitney's problem (even though her problems are everyone else's). Ghost thinks it's most definitely her problem since she hired him and Osborn is going to be pissed that he fucked this noise. Masque is so over it, and tells him she's cutting him loose. He threatens to come through the phone and stab her eyes out to which she replies by hanging up the phone. Ghost is not pleased. He goes in search of the heroes and by "thinking like a bumpkin" he finds the storm shelter. Bingo.

Old Doctor is walking down the stairs to where Pepper, Maria, Tony and Strange are. He's whistling which means... ew gross. Ew ew ew. He stops whistling when he notices the tension in the room. Maria looks mad. Pepper looks mad. Everything looks... not good.

Doctor Guy: "Is everything--"

Pepper and Maria: "We're Fine."

Pepper then wheels herself to the ladies room. He asks if she needs help and she says no. He's surprised that this girls are so angry all of sudden and wonders what he missed. Dude, you should be so glad your name is not Anthony Edward Stark right now.

Doctor Guy: "What did--"

Maria: "Don't worry about it. We're alllll fine. We're big girls. We can take care of ourselves."

Meanwhile, in the bathroom, Pepper chides herself for being a mess and then gets surprised by the Ghost coming out of the mirror. She screams and he punches her into the stalls and is gone before Maria and Doctor get there to rescue her. She's bleeding and doesn't like it, from the back of her had and her face. She might be concussed but she also tells Maria she thinks she's seen a Ghost. Heh. Maria goes to get to Tony, and the Doctor guy wonders about where Cap and Widow are... but it's just them, alone to fight the bad guy.

Okay, so this whole arc has been about Tony's closest friends and allies coming together to help him. I have one question, Matt Fraction. Where the fuck is Henry Hellrung when you need him? He'd fit in perfectly and you have no excuse since you created him and no one else is using him. He'd come in here all sweet and unassuming, watch over Tony and Strange... protect Pepper and Maria and the old people having sex with the powers of Thor... and he wouldn't run off like everyone else did to do that little Siege thing Bendis is writing. Come on, Matt! This is a golden opportunity to use a great character you've created! And! And! You could finally hook him up with Pepper... and stop all this Tony/Pepper business.


Meanwhile, in the main room:

Rhodey: "Stark. I never wanted you more dead than I want you right now. But--ooph--I'm sure you'd have a contingency plan for that, too. Dust off the old "Rhodey finally had enough of my crap and popped me twice in the back of the head" files. God. All these years and you still couldn't make the stupid thing any lighter."

James Rhodes, how I love you so. He comes into the room with his cart full of the remains of Iron Potts. RIP Iron Potts, I will remember you fondly. He goes over and sits beside Tony, I think he's the one that finally closes his eyes because they were open but now are closed. He puts his hand on Tony's forehead and I'm not going to lie... this part choked me up. It was "Who's Happy?" all over again. Poor Rhodey, you put up with so much crap from Tony and all you got for it was... well a cool armor and a neat clone body...

Rhodey: "You still in there, boss man? We need you back here on planet Earth. We really do. We can work the rest out later. we can put it all back together again. Just come back."

It is at this point he realizes... there's blood on Tony's forehead. And it's also on his hand. Oh fuck fuck, the Ghost just shot him in the back! GHOST YOU ASSHOLE HE JUST GOT THAT BODY! NOOOOOOOOOO! ALL THAT HARD WORK TO RESCUE HIM FROM CYBORGNESS AND THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS? Poor Rhodey. You really do get screwed when Tony's around you... and not in a positive life affirming way.

Alas, Rhodey is down and Ghost moves in, smearing the blood across Tony's forehead.

Ghost: "Stark. Long time no see."

Pit of Carcoon

Tony stands in the doorway of the shack, staring out at nothingness. Strange stands behind him trying to get him to get his shit together so they can get the fuck out.

Strange: "Time is running out, Tony. We have to go."

Tony: "I'm scared. I--I can't stop sweating. You're sure I'm supposed to be a super hero? What kind of super hero can't keep his face dry?"

It's an Italian thing Tony, sorry. We all suffer that. Hairy and sweaty.

Strange: "I never said you were supposed to be anything."

Tony: "Man, why are you here? You're no use to me at all."

There's the Tony Stark we know. Snark at the guy trying to help you, especially when he's magic. There's hope for you yet man!

Strange: "I'm here to get you out of this door. I'm here to get you back into the real world. However you choose to get there."

Tony: "And leave all this? Look at this view. Things stopped repeating. Did you notice that? The... resetting... that was happening. I don't know if that's good or that's bad."

All that's left now in Tony's barren wasteland is the shack and nothingness. And he and Strange gaze out at the brightness of nothing while Tony gets his peptalk to continue on to rescue Howard and Maria. And get out of here so he can regain his normal life.

Strange: "You don't... your mind, Tony. It's going. I'd be surprised if you had the... capacity... for that level of torturous imagination at this point."

He does some magic but I have no idea what he's doing or why he's doing magic for no reason right now.

Tony: "Oh yeah? Am I torturously imagining that?"

Strange looks on and sort of stands behind Tony as the huge RoboCop thing appears the one that had erased them a few times. Nice, Strange. Hide behind the mildly retarded guy. It looms in on them and Stark and Strange get down to the nitty gritty of their snarky relationship and for a moment I forgot that Tony has no idea who they are or what's really going on anymore.

Tony: "That thing's going to kill us."

Strange: "Well, you. If you believe it is. It very well could."

Tony: "Could?"

Strange: "Will."

Tony: "Because I think it will."

Strange: "Yes."

Tony: "You don't sound worried."

Strange: "I'm not really here."

Tony: "Lucky you."

Strange: "Don't you feel awful."

Tony: "That you're not going to die? Not especially."

Strange: "No--I meant, being afraid."

Tony: "Yes."

Strange: "If you're about to die--is this how you want to feel?"

Tony: "No. I hate this."

Strange: "Then fight back. Live your life how you want to live it."

Tony rears back and then he fires a unibeam from his chest straight at the giant RoboCop, obliterating it as Strange covers himself so he doesn't also get owned by Tony going all Iron Man heart on the thing. After, Tony looks down at his smoking chest and there's a moment of stuttering before he says the final line of the issue with new determination. I am pleased.

Tony: "I am Iron Man... what now?"

To be concluded....

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Invincible Iron Man Issue #22

Previously in Tony Stark Has an Epic Nap: Cap, Rhodey, Thor and the Scooby gang tried to... electrocute Tony back to life. Madame Masque showed Ghost the best entrance into where Tony's laying in his coma so he could shiv him. Pepper had second thoughts about being Tony's bitch, but unsurprisingly went through with letting him harvest her her for parts. Well then.

Invincible Iron Man #22: Is It Safe?

So that title makes me think of Clerks the cartoon, but whatever.

We open this months issue with a flatline of a heart monitor. Then there's a panel of Tony's face with his giant fish lips and his uneven jaw that Larroca still can't make consistent even 2 years into drawing the guy.

Voice: "...Stark? Tony?"

The next panel is a small blip in the flatline followed by the next that have Doctor whose name I don't remember, both Caps, Rhodey, Maria and Don with a stethoscope all looking down at Tony lying there.

Maria: "Did you kill him?"

Don: "Shut up, Hill."

Maria: "Is he dead?"

Don: "Shut up."

Let's play a fun game. Who on this roof hasn't slept with Tony.... by my count, one person and that's the Doctor whose name I don't know. We saw him bang Maria, we know he banged Natasha (who was previously on the roof but appears not to be now). I'm pretty sure he's banged Rhodey considering the amount of times he's been nearly naked in front of the man... or hell even naked. He's hit Cap once or twice, and then of course there's my insane belief in Bucky/Tony hate sex where he made Bucky dress up like Steve. I'm pretty sure I read that in fanfiction too. And well, let's face it... he had a crazy awkward and likely impossible threeway with Don and Thor... he's always had a bone for Thor.

Anyway, so the panel following Don and Maria's banter, is another line indicating that Tony Stark is not dead and does have a heartbeat.

Don stands over Tony checking his pulse and looking at his watch. Tony is not moving, not awake which well... wasn't the desired result right?

Don: "We didn't kill him. But--"

Rhodey: "'But," what?"

Don: "Well, look at him, Rhodes."

I can't tell if this is Don or Rhodey. I think It's Don: "We did everything right. According to JARVIS he should be conscious. But... but it didn't work."

CAPTAIN AMERICA puts his hand on Don's shoulder as Don looks disappointed and frustrated at the apparent failure to bring back Tony. He proceeds to say the most Cap like thing EVER and I squealed a bit at how Fraction nailed this.

Steve: "We'll figure it out, Doctor Blake. None of us are quite up to Tony Stark's speed--even when he's comatose. It's getting pretty ugly out here. Let's get him in."

Meanwhile, at the Most Wretched Hive of Scum and Villainy

Tony is laying in the similar position to the real world. In the back ground the same Stark, Tony Stark? question is being raised. Tony wakes abruptly and gasping as he sits up. He leans against the wall visibly pained.

Howard: "No, we haven't seen Tony Stark. Maria? We haven't seen Tony Stark have we?"

Tony: "--the hell is... like every time I close my eyes I open them up somewhere different..."

Tony ganders at the arc reactor in his chest for a bit before crawling down into a hole in the floor and covering himself with a piece of wood. An awesome trap door that conveniently is in Howard and Maria's rundown shack home in the wasteland brain. That's... well whatever.

Howard: "I don't think I'd recognize him even if I did see him."

Maria: "Yeah, so..."

Howard: "... I could stumble right over the guy an wouldn't even know."

The elder Stark is conversing with the weird red and gold robot baddies that speak only in periods. They seem sort of satisfied at the moment with that, and they leave Howard and Maria to their evening. It's now more of a purple and blue hue in the wasteland so I assume it's night time. Or Tony's just having weird color schemes all over his brain.

RoboCop 1: "............... .............. ..........."

RoboCop 2: "........ ....... ......."

Yeah, what they said!

Howard: "Yeah, of course. If we hear anything of course we'll alert the authorities."

After shutting the door, he leans against the wall looking relieved. So if they know they're Howard and Maria Stark, why haven't they pieced together that Tony Stark is probably related to them and judging by his resemblance to them... probably their son. Maybe. Who knows. I'm really confused by this whole mess.

Howard: "was "stumble right over the guy" too cute?"

Maria: "Don't even fool around with them, Howard. It's bad enough without you showing off."

Howard: "Yeah, I know. I know..."

Tony: "Is it safe?"

Howard and Maria help him out of his convenient hiding hole.

Maria: "No, it isn't safe at all. It's very dangerous."

Tony: "Maria--you two really don't need to hide me--let me turn myself in--"

That's a genius idea Tony, let's turn yourself in to the RoboCops because that can't possibly end badly. Just like deleting your brain can't end badly and Skrulls can't end badly and Civil Wars can't end badly. Go for that idea, let me know how it works out for you.

Thankfully, Maria is on the same page as I am. This is a thought from the School of Bone Head Plans and she is not having it.

Maria: "Don't even joke--"

Tony: "How many sweeps have there been? How many--"

Howard: "Tony?"

Maria: "What's that?"

Tony has now shown off his glowing chest where the arc reactor now registers as a part of him. You know, since they did it in the real world it shows up in his crazy brain wasteland. And he has no idea what the hell is going on anymore. Don't worry Tones, we're with you on that one.

Tony: "No clue. When I think about it, it glows. Could this be what they want?"

Howard: "You and our Iron friend here have holes in your chest."

Maria: "Maybe there's a connection between you three somehow."

Tony then peaks out the window at the RoboCops that are still sweeping the street.

Tony: "Yeah, I bet you're right. It's always a connection you never really see..."

Pepper wakes up from her surgery and immediately asks for Tony. To her disappointment, Tony is not there... but the other two Angels are. They rush to her side to keep her from sitting up because... we'll let's face it, they just sewed up a giant hole in her chest. That's going to fuck a person up. She sort of looks like a dude when she's laying down... dammit Larroca.

Pepper: "Is he--oooph--where is--"

Maria: "Whoa, whoa, whoa there, Pepper Potts. Your heart might actually literally leap out of your chest."

Natasha: "Lie back, Pepper. Take it easy. I'll go get the doc--"

Maria: "Great. Potts. Calm down.

Pepper: "But Tony--is he--is he dead or alive or--"

Maria sits by Pepper and tries to calm her down and keep her from getting out of bed and exploding, because it's very likely that she could. She looks grim when she relays to Pepper that it didn't work but he's still alive. And that she's going to be fine as long as she stays put. Pepper then asks why it didn't work and how Tony Stark could possibly be wrong. No one knows, according to Maria but she tells Pepper that she should have seen the crazy shit on the roof because they're lucky he didn't get set on fire.

Pepper: "I don't--Maria, I don't understand what did we do? What do we do next?"

Maria: "Cap left. Said something about another Doctor, some sort of consultation, I don't know. Maybe someone can try to get Reed Richards or one of those guys..."

Pepper: "That's not right. That doesn't make sense. How could Tony... how could we go through all of this to get it wrong?"

Maria: "I don't know if you know this about us but we're pretty great at blowing it lately. Need a cup of coffee. I'll bring you some ice chips, Potts. Sit tight."

I am with Pepper on this one. All that fanfare and fireworks met with nothing. Tony had this crazy scheme to bring him back... get together all these people and then electrocute the fuck out of him only to be met with the resounding sound of crickets chirping as nothing happens. Nicely played.

The old Sooner coot is watching reruns of Quimby in her room as Maria walks by, leaving ample opportunity for Ghost to appear and scare the shit out of her while telling her that she's under arrest for hiding a known fugitive. So they're going to interrogate and torture her. Awesome. It's not nice to mess with fat simpletons.

Maria busts in after hearing Sooner scream and tells him to freeze. He says boo. She says die. And he says some day and disappears. Maria tells the woman to get her fat ass up because they have to bounce or they all die. Or at least that's the words she would have used if I wrote the Invincible Iron Man. Instead, she said to "get out of bed and run with me or I can't guarantee your life." I like my wording better.

Down the hall Pepper is forcing herself out of bed to get over and sit with Tony. It's touching because... wait... HIS FUCKING EYES ARE OPEN AGAIN! WHAT THE HELL PEOPLE?!

Maria comes blasting down the hall telling her they've been compromised and they need to run.

Mos Eisely

Tony is looking at the chest plate of the armor and Howard and Maria watch him. Howard looks a little sad, Maria looks worried as she clings to her husband. This is probably a defining moment. They know they won't be able to hide Tony for long, because well... they're in Tony's brain and eventually the RoboCops will find him. It's just logical sense.

Tony: "I don't understand. What am I supposed to do? What does this all mean? I mean... I'm pretty sure this... is connected to that."

Maria: "Why don't you try to put it on?"

Tony: "What are you nuts? It almost killed me the first time. It hurts. Wearing the damn thing hurts."

Maria: "First time? What are you--"

Howard: "Dammit--"

Here come the RoboCops. I wish I spoke 'Period' so that I could also know what they are saying also. But I don't and I am disappoint. They proceed to hide Tony under the floorboards again, Tony warning them not to do anything stupid. Howard tells him it's too late before the RoboCops bust through the door and grab both elder Starks by the neck. They are dragged from the place kicking and fighting as Howard tells Maria to never stop fighting and Tony is left alone... terrified and staring at his glowy glowy chest. It's pretty....

In the most exciting place in the world, Broxton OK:

Inside a new building that looks mostly abandoned Doctor what's his ass, the fat chick from the hotel and Maria carry Tony's comatose body in a sheet down a flight of stairs, with Pepper trailing behind them in a wheelchair. If this isn't the saddest bunch of people I have ever seen. Two geezers, one of them intensely overweight, a woman losing her mind and another who has just been harvested for parts. That's awesome. Tony's in good hands...

On the way down, Maria hassles the old Lady about going faster, the doctor tells her to ease up off her and Maria says she can't protect them from assassin's in a stairwell. I think that's a reasonable argument. While Maria helps Pepper down the stairs, the doctor gets all Quincy on the old lady and they have a moment where you're pretty sure this old woman is crushing on him now. Gross. Old people love.

Maria tenderly picks up Pepper and this conversation ensues:

Pepper: "This is bad, right?"

Maria: "Yeah."

Pepper: "I mean this is worse than hiding out in a Madam Masque mask and escaping Avengers Tower somehow."

Maria: "Yeah."

Pepper: "Oh boy."

They get her down the stairs with her wheelchair and Tony's set up on the bed with his monitors, still in his vegetable medley. Wait... wait... bed? A minute ago they were carrying him in a sheet with monitors and they had him lying on the floor. Now he's on a full table? What was this? A magic table that can fold into a suitcase and then magically fold out into a full out bed? I disagree! Where the hell did that come from? Bad form! Oh and putting it right at the end of the stairwell? That's a really stupid idea because when Ghost inevitably finds you, well that'll be a quick kill... it'll be all...

"Gee where's Ton--oh right here IN FRONT OF MY DAMN FACE."


Tony Stark is dead. You people are so dumb...


Anyway, so they start talking again...

Maria: "Well. Not to be... alarming... but I kinda gotta go. Aside from the guy-trying-to-kill-us-all thing, there's. There're a couple things I need to go take care of. Don't worry about it. Stay here. Stay safe. Hide out."

Thanks Maria, you're awesome. Let's just leave Pepper all harvested, Tony all steamed veggies in the capable hands of those two old people who are moments away from disgusting old people sex... that's a way to be.

Pepper: "But you can't leave us." You stupid bitch. Ahem. "You--Rhodey is gone, Bucky and Nat are gone--Cap left--Maria, who is going to watch out for us?"

And as if on cue, a Hey from above them signals the entrance of... don da da don!


At the top of the stairs stands Cap and... wait... TONY?! What the hell are you doing there in a suit and badass duster when you've been lying in a coma for the past two issues. Was this all just a secret plot like that time you faked your death but were really cryogenically frozen and Rhodey got really mad at... wait... wait no that's not Tony. It's his dignified magical twin brother, Doctor Stephen Strange!


Cap: "Aren't you the woman that blasted out of Avengers Tower as it was occupied by thousands of HAMMER agents? You could protect us. Don't you think?"

Maria: "Sir! We've been compromised. An assassin. So we--"

Cap: "--Left a trail a mile wide and a mile tall, at ease, Hill. It's okay. Whoever's after you isn't military or they'd have found you as easy as we did."

Doctor Guy: "You're Cap's special consultant, are you?"

He and Strange shake hands and it's very clear Strange is suffering this fool gladly. He's magics, and awesome. Don't fuck with him with your old people sex. He knows what you're up to, and he does not approve.

Strange: "My name is Doctor Stephen Strange. I cam a medical doctor and have extensive training in...alternative medicines."

Doctor guy: "Alternative to what?"

Stephen is all, silly mortal, but no... he should say that though because you know he's thinking it.

Strange: "Alternative to dying on the floor of a middle school basement."

Doctor Guy: "Just the man we need."

Strange: "Persistent vegetative state? Tell me about the surgeries."

Doctor guy tells him about the implant and then the plan he had to wake himself. It didn't work and nothing changed even though the harddrive is working. Strange implies magic might be needed by saying another surgery won't do and the old motel lady is all like, what what what? And asks him what to do. Strange smirks and replies to her:

We're going to need candles. Chalk, salt and candles.

They set up a crazy magic area with Tony and Strange in the middle of chalk lines and colors and candles. He assures them that this isn't a ceremony but a procedure of the medical kind and that he needs protection once he goes all into Tony's brain. But he'll come back with Tony. And Pepper is all what makes you so sure....

Trust me, I'm a doctor.

That you are, Strange.

Magic, colors, Strange in is wicked awesome butt-hugging tights, his wicked cool cape and a tree for some reason... a port hole opens and he lands unceremoniously with a dammit on the floor in Tony's shack. He dusts himself off and stands proudly, Tony still hidden in the floor boards, terrified as all get out. Strange opens them up and offers Tony his hand...

Strange: "Tony Stark. Do you remember me? I'm Dr. Stephen Strange. I've come to show you the way out of this hole you're in. The world needs it's Iron Man."

Tony sits there awestruck and clinging tot he armor chest piece...

To be continued....

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Invincible Iron Man Issue #21

When we last left Tony Stark: HO HO HO GREEN GIANT (Because he's a vegetable... get it?)... Tony's tripping in his wasteland brain. He also left a detailed message about how he can be revived. Pepper wasn't happy about it because Tony gets all the breaks at her expense. Maria, Natasha, Bucky and Don decided to give this reboot a shot. While Norman "called off" the hit on Stark, and Whitney hired Ghost to finish it. Well then...

Invincible Iron Man #21: Digging in the Dirt.

I need a witty name for Tony's brain wasteland since it's clear we're going to be here for awhile. Hmm.. let's see how about... Russia. No... no too obvious. How about... Tatooine. Yeah! I like it!

On Tatooine:

Tony's continuing to dig for that Iron Man chest piece from the last issue. Maria and Howard just stand there and watch him like the nutbar they think he is. He asks them to help him dig, because well, he just wants to break the routine.

Tony: "Faster! Come on, we've done this before--"

Howard: "Tony, we don't seem to know what you're talking about--"

Maria: "What have we done and when did we do it? And why?"

Your parents are clueless man. They're not playing with the same deck of cards you are.

Tony: "These things, this--this, life, this thing--we're in this thing again and again and again. It keeps happening and starting over. We dig or we die."

So Maria and Howard get in and start helping because that's a pretty convincing argument. I mean, I can imagine Tony's frustrated being stuck in the movie Groundhog Day without the mildly redeeming quality of Bill Murray. Especially when the repetitiveness only includes digging. As much as I'd love a giant sandbox in my brain, it would only entertain for so long... and since Tony has a pretty short attention span...

They're digging and they're pulling it out as the things start to come back.

Maria: "We can take it to the huts and hide there!"

Tony: "What huts--? See, that's--heff--that's different. The huts are new..."

They're joined by some of the other random people in his brain who are yet to be explained as people we know or not to help him carry the armor chest piece.

Tony: "Careful--it's so heavy only I can lift it."

See that? For those playing the home game, thats what we call subtle. Tony's statement that only he can lift that chest piece is implying that only Tony can carry the burden of Iron Man. Right? Right? Oh I like that, nicely done Fraction.

Howard: "That kind of thinking is what gets you killed every time. Weight is weight and heavy is heavy no matter who carries it."

But realistic weight limits aren't any fun.

Tony: "Whatever you say, Howard. Whatever you say..."

New York Shitty--er--City:

Masque and Ghost are discussing her relationship with Norman and how it's complicated.

Is she sleeping with Norman too? Jesus, you get around CrazyLady. I wonder if Menace knows that. I would love to see Madam Masque vs Menace in the ultimate showdown to see who gets rights to fuck the crazy guy who could care less about either of you. I mean if they are... bumping uglies... he's using her just like he's using Lily Hollister for the Goblin baby she's carrying... but who knows.

Anyway, Ghost is like whatever I'm supposed to be in the cube, so let's not discuss this and then she starts talking about her relationship with Tony being more complicated. Ghost asks her if the Hood knows that and if he knows about their chat. Whitney has this weird break down as if the Ghost gives a crap about her because she didn't know he knew and he's all, I really don't give a shit let's get down to brass tacks.

So Whitney lays it out: Tony's in a vegetative state. He's under the care of Don Blake in Oklahoma. He's the only doctor for eighty miles. Ghost is all... so... this means nothing to me an Tony could buy sloan-kettering for a head cold (LOL). Whitney informs him that Asgard is there and he's actually being protected by Thor. So the plot thickens, thinks Ghost. It's also assumed that his pals are there also, but Ghost has doubts. He can't get into towns as easily as he can through rooms and buildings. So she gets a magic device to get him in through phone lines. Follow bursts of power and you'll find Tony.

Ghost is in and a hit is placed.

Broxton, OK:

Pepper sits in the lobby writing a letter to Tony. She's teary and trying to get it all out. I'm going to say this: yell, get mad, hate me... but I think Pepper is justified in her anger against Tony. For so so long she has just put up with his crap and it's cost her everything. She has every right to be upset that he just gets it all back because she doesn't get things back when they go wrong. And it's explained in this letter...

Pepper's Letter:

"Dear Tony....

I keep trying to get these thought out of my head an onto paper but (scratched out) it's too hard. I could never say these things out loud. Too (scratched out) I'm throwing a tantrum and I know it. Of course I'll do whatever you (scratched out) ask to (scratched out) help bring you back. Because thats what I do/have always done for you, right? You ask and I come running. And I know this is all (scratched out) so much bigger than me or you and me. But dammit Tony, When s it m time? When do I get to stop living to support your life and start living my own?"

(Remember the kids Happy and I had that were neglected in to retcon non-existence?)

"When does heaven and earth move to help me or to bring my dead husband back (scratched out) from the dead? Or the flaming wreckage that was my life? When do man and god alike work to alleviate my pain for once? When is it the movie about me and not Tony (scratched out, I bet it said fucking) Stark? I want a sign, I want some sort of sign that things will get.."

Pepper is interrupted by:

"Yo, Potts."

She turns to see Rhodey (who is no longer a cyborg) and CAPTAIN FUCKING AMERICA STEVE ROGERS OMG SQUEE!


And that Doctor guy whose name I still don't remember, but he saved her life in Five Nightmares and was hanging out in a van with her in Worlds Most Wanted.

Rhodey: "Look who we found."

Steve: "Ms Potts, it's been a while..."

Pepper: "Whoa--"

Ms. Pepper Potts, your sign has been received. You're welcome, Love Jesus.

Pepper: "Steve--oh thank God--"

Pepper gives Steve a great big hug and he returns the hug because this is an adorable tender moment and I seriously teared up. As a friend of mine said, she looked at this frame and literally thought Steve's here now, it's going to be okay. And I agree. Steve will fix this because he's Captain America, and Bucky will help because he is also Captain America.

Rhodey: "What, we get nothing? The dead guy gets a hug but me the doc who brought him here get nothing?"

Pepper: "Oh do shut up--"

Doctor: "Lt. Colonel Rhodes, Don't begrudge the poor woman her reunion hug."

She hugs Rhodey too so he'll shut up and for about five seconds everything seems alright. And then we have to remember that Tony's retarded upstairs.

Pepper: "I don't understand. Why are--not that this isn't an amazing--why are you all here?"

Steve: "Because Iron Man is in trouble. And we're all going to bring him back." So I can put him right back into his coma when I beat him with my shield for being such a big douchebag for the past year or Okay, maybe he didn't say that last part.

Pepper pauses like, oh right this isn't about me... "Of course. Yes, sir. Room 26, upstairs."

They start going upstairs and she stops to go back and get her letter, crumpling it up in her hand.

Hello Make Shift Surgical Theater!

Tony's got another message from the boobs of the Iron Potts, and you know he planned that too strategically. Like he giggled to himself in the middle of the night while making the Iron Potts and putting in the message "haha they're going to talk to her boobs..."

Tony: "What's up, Doc? If you're hearing this, Rhodey escorted you to where I've been hidden and we're ready to start surgical prep. As you're the man that saved Pepper's life by putting all this crazy Iron Man stuff in her, now you'll save mine by taking it back out. Gathered amongst you--all of you, why you're all so important to this, why I needed you all here and all on the same page--is that between you all, are the bits and pieces I need to be made whole again. The first step-- and Pepper I'm sorry about this but we can put a new one back in you later--the first step is removing the repulsor unit from Pepper's chest and inserting it into mine."

The panels that follow are Tony... they finally closed his eyes... unconscious with a breathing tube down his throat and Pepper lying beside him looking at him before she gets knocked out for surgery. The next panel is a shot of Pepper's letter to him and the words "You ask me and I come running" pointed out as a HERE'S THE POINT flag of non-subtle proportion. Okay, I got it. Pepper gives everything up for Tony. Hey... HEY! Leave that dead horse alone.

Tony: "That's the key, that's the heart of the operation if you will. This electromagnetic repulsory battery is going to fuel my entire biology from now on..."

So while they take the repulsor out of Pepper, Tony tells us basically the plot of her getting it in the first place, which I'm not going to rehash here. Basically, she went boom in a building and then she got the repulsor and without it she'll be fine now, just normal amazing Pepper. And Tony's brain doesn't remember how to work his brain so they're going to fix him with:

"Surgery, Science and Cool Machines." The three s--wait...

Tony: "Not long ago I faced a rogue biological weapon called Extremis. Extremis was a bioelectric enhancile that transformed the human body into a remarkably efficient piece of organic technology. To stop the first subject, I underwent the procedure myself. You might remember that phase where I could just think at the armor and it would fly across the room toward me. That was what it made possible. Fun while it lasted but not even Extremis was safe from the Skrulls. They attacked the upgrades and shut me--and Extremis--down permanently. Anyway, the procedure alters the human body. Extremis allowed me to recreate and redesign the way my insides worked. So don't be surprised if you get in there and you see stuff that shouldn't be there."

To which Don replies, at least I think it's Don: "Are those... wires... in his lungs?"

Excuse as I die from how hilariously cracktastic that is! And how amazing that it brings my love of Extremis to a whole new level!

Tony: "Pepper's suit has detailed instructions to walk you through installation, Doc. It's not that different than what you've done before. Just some more cabling."

HAHAHAHAHAH omg... that's so priceless. I have a whole new view of what Tony's insides look like. Someone needs to draw that... like an Operation game layout of Tony with Extremis. That would be too funny.

Tony: "Next comes the brains of the operation. Which was Maria Hills department... she was tasked with recovering a very special hard drive for me and since she's her I'm sure she did it. Get it now. If we think of our minds as ou body's operating system and Extremis was an upgrade, I did what all good geek would do before installing it. I backed myself up."

Which technically doesn't make a LOT of sense considering his brain wasn't a computer system BEFORE Extremis so without it how would he have the capability of such but... you know details like that are handwaved all the time and retconned... right Potts-Hogan kids? Right. Quoth my friend: "Maybe SI has special brain hard drives."

Tony: "The only thing in the world that drive plugs into is the back of my neck. Go ahead and hook it up. Once the repulsor disc is on, it'll serve as a boot disc and install itself into my mind. After Ezekiel Stane's terror attacks on Stark Industries we no longer have a repulsor facility capable of reactivating the RT battery unit you've just taken from Pepper and put in me. That's where War Machine, Captain America and Thor come in..."

Doctor Whatshisname comes out of the room to where Cap has apparently been pacing, Maria, Rhodey and Natasha are. He gives them sort of a somber look.

Doctor: "Your turn."

Meanwhile, at Mos Eisely Cantina

Tony and a group of gray haired dudes that live in his brain, including Howard.. (hey, maybe these are previous generations of Stark men... like grandpa, great grandpa... one of those dudes has the most amazing mutton stache ever...) they've arrived at the huts (not Hutts) with the chest piece.

Howard: "Turn it to the--yeah--almost on-- There. you know it's got some switches on the back?"

Tony: "Where? I can't see it."

He now has the chest piece on and is trying to look behind him as Maria keeps watch for those fucking machines that want to pwn them to death.

Howard: "You'll need some help to turn it on."

Tony: "I can remember that. I think I can remember that."

Howard: Can you, son? Will you? Knowing you need it and asking somebody for help are two different things. By my lights you're not a man who knows the difference."

Tony: "Needing help and asking for help are two different things. I need help, I need help, I need help. I can remember that. I'm ready Howard, okay."

Wow... so much for the subtle. We're just going right for the jugular with this stuff. Okay, we know Tony is a guy who doesn't ask for help even when he knows he needs it and it's Howard that's pointing it out to him, which is slightly ironic because you know Howard is the one who taught him about being self reliant. You just know it. And here they are clueless of their connection, and Howard is helping Tony with the chest piece... helping him remember that he doesn't have to do everything alone... and.. god that's deep.

Tony sits with his eyes closed in the chest piece for the Iron Man. Howard has his hands on his shoulders.

Tony: "I said--"

Howard: "I know what you said. I threw the switches and nothing happened."

None of that matters, because the machine things are on their way.

Back in the real world

Tony: "Rhodey, man. I hope you brought your tool box."

Rhodey sits in a room and he's taking apart the Iron Potts with instructions coming from said Iron Potts. That's kind of awesome. Poor Rhodey, how much of this crap does he have to go through with Tony? And really, poor everyone involved. Except that Doctor guy. He hasn't had time to learn, yet.

Tony: "You're the only guy on Earth after me that I'd trust to strip a stark suit for parts..."

Iron Potts: "There's another .75 meters of cable available in--"

Rhodey: "I know, I know."

Tony: "Get every inch of cable that's reinforced to carry full repulsor current loads stripped out of the suit and braid 'em all together. Take out the mounting clips from torso undersheath K and attach them to the repulsor battery. And attach the mounting clips from undersheath L to the other ends of the cabling. And then you'll need to get me to a rooftop. And doc--er, Doctor Blake... we'll need your... partner.. for this next step."

"Stark Industries used to have repulsor generator facilities all over the world, but between Stane and Osborn--and me, let's be honest here--we're going to have to improvise activating the repulsor disc. It's going to sound and seem counter-intuitive. But if you follow my instructions exactly, I'm almost positive that this probably won't kill me."

Cue everyone taking Tony to the roof. Maria is tenderly cradling the head of the Iron Potts. Captain America squared is carrying Tony with Rhodey's help. Natasha is holding the door and Don has his Thor... stick... Awesome. They get Tony settled and Steve puts the shield down on the ground.

Doctor: "This is completely insane."

Don: "So was Tony. Wen you get down to it, I mean."

Are we already talking about Tony in the past tense? He's not officially dead yet guys... so much for hope. Geez. Well, they're all pretty convinced this hair brained scheme isn't going to work as planned, because to be honest it is crazy and well... it's only the second issue of the arc. We have four left.

Rhodey: "Listen, if Tony says this is going to work... not matter how insane it seems... it usually works. Usually."

Doctor: "This will kill him. It will electrocute him or blow up his heart or set him one fire. Doctor Blake, surely you understand the danger involved here--"

Tony doesn't have a heart, silly.

Don: "Tony's Tony, Doc. If he says this is how we get him back, this is how we get him back. I'm just worried about the shield."

Steve: "The shield can take it."

Bucky: "It'll be fine."

Steve: "Just smack it dead center."

Bucky: "To make sure."

This is adorable and I love how suddenly Bucky's all game and grins. I think it's because he's happy Steve's back. Or maybe it's because there's still a part of him that's Winter Soldier and is getting hard at the sadistic idea of Tony getting electrocuted...

Doctor: "Blake, you can't seriously be considering--"

They've connected the shield at the other send of the make shift jumper cables. So for those who need extra help in the home game, it's connected to Tony's repulsor disc and the shield. Metal is a conductor of electricity and...Don stands with a grip on his stick and determination in his eyes as the sky erupts with lightening...

Two page spread of Thor's hammer slamming down on to the shield and sending an amazing amount of electrical current into Tony's chest. His body arcs on the gurney as Natasha and Maria cover their heads and Steve watches in anticipation. THis is an amazing page of awesome and definitely worth the tease in the variant cover that ACTUALLY OCCURRED IN THIS ISSUE!!

Tony's eyes open wide and he lets out a yell of probably pain.

On Tatoonine Tony clutches his chest and lets out the same cry.

Doctor Whatshisname holds out his hands toward Tony, as Maria stands stunned beside him, calling out his name.

Great, now he's dead and on fire. What exactly was that designed to do? (he's not really on fire, for the record, I'm just being snarky.)

On the planet furthest from the bright center of the universe, Tony lies on the ground with Howard above him, and Maria running over. He's unresponsive.

Howard: "Tony? TONY!!"

Ghost found the burst of energy and makes a phone call to the Sooner Inn. The fat receptionist answers the phone but there's no one there. Must have been a wrong number. The Ghost is in the inn.

See you next month. And Happy Holidays :)

Sunday, November 29, 2009

Invincible Iron Man Issue #20

Welcome back to another exciting installment of Invincible Iron Man. Or... well I guess he's more like Defeated Creamed Corn... (since he's a vegetable...fuck it.)

When we last left Tony Stark and World's Most Wanted concluded, Tony went vegetative state after Osborn publicly beat the shit out of him. Maria, Natasha and Pepper became Tony's Angels and defeated HAMMER with the help of JARVIS and the Iron Potts... successfully escaping with the Stark X Drive. Norman sort of ruined some of his cred with his Tony Stark Battle Royale, and Don Blake was called onto the scene to keep the plug from being pulled. And there was shiny Bucky Cap.

So begins the next arc: Stark Disassembled in:

Invincible Iron Man #20: Counting Up From Zero

Tony Stark's brain is a shitty knock off of a Salvador Dali painting with less clocks and more confusing symbolism. Larroca, your name may be Salvador but Dali you ain't. Tony's digging his hands in... what looks like sand but judging by the sepia coloring of his mind, it could be dirt too. He's digging in the ground anyway, and he finds teeth. Which is weird. And everyone is dressed like they're on an archeological dig site. Which makes sense I guess, since they're "digging up Tony's memories" right? I mean, right?

Who is "everyone?", you ask? Well, Howard Stark for one, who strides up to Tony hunched on the ground and riffling through the dirt.

Howard: "Any luck with anything, Anthony?"

Tony: "Howard, hey, and no--just more and more of... what is this, a tooth? Why are these teeth buried under the dirt?"

I have the same damn question, Tony. Apparently your brain is a really fucked up place.

Howard: "Hell, if I knew that one, son, I wouldn't have to dig it up all the live long day, would I? Put 'em 'neath your pillow and you'll be a billionaire by breakfast."

Tony: "...I'd just lose it all by lunch again anyway..."

Howard doesn't have time for Tony's Self-Deprecation Hour. He turns around and approaches the woman sitting on the ground digging up a car from the dirt landscape of Tony's head. Hmm. Car. I think that's what those in literature call 'a symbol', kids. On closer inspection the car looks wrecked. The front of it looks bent in... hmmm I wonder what car that is?

Howard: "Maria! C'mon gal, let's get a move on before nightfall."

As my dear friend put it, Maria looks a little like an older, Sepia Pepper Potts (Dammit, Larroca, she isn't even a red head!) and turns toward Howard and Tony and wipes some sweat off her forehead. At least, that's what I assume because she's got the back of her wrist against her forehead and she seems to have been working on this car for sometime.

Perhaps Pepper is Larroca's ideal and thus all women must be judged according to her standard and so if Pepper is perfect women in his books must be mistaken for her to be right?

Maria: "Shame we have to stop right now, isn't it? Every time we get some real work done, the war destroys it again. Everything worthwhile here is buried deep down in the ground."

Clever... hold up, war? War? What the hell is going on in your brain, Tony? Pan out to see the landscape littered with mounds that have yet to be unearthed and a few that are in the process. Maria's car that she's been digging up. Someone is digging up a plane, further back there appears to be a coffin and a GIANT FUCKING HAND in the far left right corner...

I've got nothing.

Howard: "I guess that's just the way it goes sometimes. Another day at play beneath the fields of God."

Tony: "Y'know, I never let myself believe in God besides, I think I just found his molar. Something is wrong inside my head."

Really? Ya think?

Some dude comes running at them terrified and screaming.

Dude: "They're coming! Run! RUN!"

Tony: "But I'm not done with my work."

Oh Tony Stark, a workaholic even in his fucked up barren waste land of the brain. I approve of that. So the other people high tail it out of there and Tony stands there like a goon. Howard tries to get him to go with, but Tony just stands there as a giant mechanical thingamagig appears above them in the sky. It's shiny and probably red and gold...

Howard: "TONY!"

He just stands there staring at the thing like an awed child.

Tony: "Where have I... those are... nth-gen Stark Titanomechs... but the design's all wrong... I don't think I've even built them yet... they're just sketches..."

Howard starts to yell for him again, gets as far as "T-" and then they're vaporized.

A blue Holographic image of Tony in his hay day starts the next panel. He looks stoic, if not a little sad. The following is a six page monologue. Tony ranges different emotions from sad to angry, to outrageous as he speaks to the camera and records this final message.

Tony: "My name's Tony Stark and I'm an alcoholic. No? Wait, I'm sorry. Wrong meeting... beats crying anyway, yeah? Yeah. Yeah. OKay. So... so I'm recording this on my last morning as Director of SHIELD. When I'm done uploading to the MK 1616 suit that I'm leaving for Pepper, I turn the keys over to Norman Osborn. By lunch he'll be abusing the Superhuman Registration Database and God knows what all else. If you're watch this, I'm right, and everything's gone horribly wrong. But... at the same time, if you're watching this, things are about to start going horribly right again. I promise... umm... that might sound weird, I know. Because if I'm write--and c'mon, it's me, so I am--I'm probably lying there. Persistent vegetative state, right? Right."

I suppose there's an outside chance I'm dead somehow you've managed to--well, whatever. MK 1616, if I'm dead seize the Stark drive X and fly yourself into the nearest active volcano. Please."

He pauses and waits.

"Okay. Assembled here--almost, between you all--are the tools and the knowhow needed to bring me back. To reboot me if you will. But first you need to take a minute and talk amongst yourselves and figure out--and ask the question--do you want me back? Can you forgive me? Because, here's the thing--I'm not apologizing. What happened, happened and it happened because it happened and that's that. And you shouldn't apologize either. What's past is prologue. I...okay. None of us get into this line of work because of the great 401k, right? I ran a good race--I ran a great race--and had a good and great life and maybe I helped out a little along the way. Every single one of us knows there's no promise of a happy ending. We die. Heroes... die. Cap--Bucky--Thor--you guys know that lesson all too well. Bill Foster knew it. Janet--Clint-- This is the job. This is the job. Dying is the super hero retirement plan. And lately a whole lot of us are on it. So here's the deal--the bad guys are waiting around for us to fall apart, and I don't want to be in the falling apart business anymore."

So I guess that means he's quitting as Iron Man. Which is fair, because when he does wake up A) Iron Man might be a little hard to pilot or even remember and 2) well... does anyone really want him to be Iron Man again, especially his former allies?

"We're doing the divide part of their divide and conquer routine. We're putting our heads on silver platters for these guys again and again because--because--because we're letting us get in the way of stopping them and... so I'm done. I've destroyed everything at SHIELD I created that Osborn could exploit. He'll have some old suits but no repulsor power, so you'll be okay when it all comes down. The 1616 is uploaded with a viral assault for Osborn's dataspine. Whatever Osborn has left should be negligible at best for the men and women that handed Ultron his ass a half dozen times. Zeke Stane's attacks on Stark Industries crippled our repulsor power production capabilities. Oz is too stupid to figure out how to make repulsors on his own anyway. Pep, you've got the very last repulsor generator in the world. Be good to it and it will be good to you."

Fair enough. Tony really has a point here. I mean... hello? They've spent so much time breaking off into separate groups lately no wonder Osborn could climb so easily to the top with the shot heard round the world.

"So--so that's it. My side of the street is clean and if I die I'm dying with as clean a conscience as can be expected... it's going to to take the three of us--Cap, Thor and Iron Man-- working together to clean it all up. Y'know they say in certain rooms... they say "Let go and let God," and this is me letting go. And I've never let myself believe in God, but..."

Tony starts to get choked up and pinches the bridge of his nose.

"...I don't know how to say this. Captain America and Thor were... whatever sense of a higher power I've ever had in this life came from them. From you. And from who you thought I could be. Whenever I looked up you were who I was looking at. For guidance, for leadership... and now absolution."

Tony then gets up to leave.

"That's it. That's all. Think it over and let the MK 1616 know what you decided and we'll get into the how of it all."

Tony leaves, but then comes back for a real quick one more thing. He basically lays out if he doesn't come back how things will go down with Osborn's fall and is reference of Osborn squeezing too hard on the world. They'll beat him in chaos and there will be blood and thunder and Tony totally saw the previews for SIEGE. Because he sees the Future. Damn Futurists. He uses an analogy of Osborn's team being like speeding cars that crash into a pile up and then tells the heroes to think like a school of fish and work independent and interdependent at the same time. He then warns to expect heavy casualties because of how Osborn plays his games and then Tony leaves and the image disappears.

Well. I have one input on this: Some people call this emotional blackmail. I to some degree see him doing this because well for one thing, it's out of his hands and I think he knows that the other heroes and friends won't go "well fuck it, let him die" because then they wouldn't be the good guys. On the other hand, I don't think he wants to come back if he keeps having to play the bad guy when he clearly isn't. This isn't really all his fault, he just was the fall guy and he might have made a lot of trespasses against those he loves, but he never did them with the intention of being cruel. One thing a lot of people forget about Tony is that he is in fact a good guy, and he always has the best intentions. His heart (Or whatever is subbing for it at the time) is always in the right place, no matter how misguided he may be.

And that is why, I'd like to take this moment to say: Thank You, Matt Fraction for not making Tony Stark puss out and apologize for being himself.

Thank you for keeping his integrity.

On the the next page Maria Hill, Natasha Potts, Bucky!Cap, Don Blake and Pepper Potts stand staring at the MK 1616 which delivered to them the final message from a lucid Tony Stark. Before them, Tony lies in a hospital bed, vegetative, with bandages on his shoulder, arm, head and nose. And tubes in his nose and mouth to breathe for him. This is also the first time in a few issues I would call the art, decent. If Tony looked like Coma!Tony in every panel, I might actually like Larroca's art again.

Why does Peter Parker get to be pretty and Tony looks like that?

Iron Potts: "The message terminates there."

Don: "Maaaaan, Tony."

Bucky!Cap: "Unbelievable."

Natasha: "Was he this insane when you worked for him, Hill?"

Pepper says nothing.

The heroes then discuss what they plan to do. Bucky!Cap steps in first to immediately say they're bringing Tony back. Which of course, surprises me because well Bucky and Tony aren't exactly BBFs but you know, I can see that he's probably not in the business of just pulling the plug on people... no matter what they've done. Don agrees with Bucky since Tony's sick and that's his job to heal him. Maria also agrees, and Natasha as well but for mostly selfish reasons, so they don't think they wasted their time trying to save him.

Iron Potts lets them know there is a presentation to be played on how to reboot Tony. Which reminds me, I really miss that show Reboot... but that has nothing to do with this. Iron Potts asks if Pepper is in and she leaves the room telling them she needs some time, in a mess of tears.

Pepper is probably so emotional because TONY'S EYES ARE STILL FUCKING OPEN. SERIOUSLY! THAT'S JUST CREEPY.

Close his eyes, let him sleep, so retarded vegetable Tony isn't just staring at everyone vacantly while you discuss his fate. God.

Pepper runs down the stairs of wherever they are, I guess it's Don's hotel . Maria goes after her. And now we have Pepper/Maria shippers going "YES!" and everyone else going, oh that's weird... but of the group in that room currently they're the closest to Tony and subsequently each other.

Pepper: "Dammit. Stark, you are unbelievable."

Maria: "Potts! Potts, c'mon."

Pepper: "No--no--"

Maria: "Hey! Pepper--Pepper. C'mon. What's--"

Pepper: "I don't--"

Maria: "--it's okay--"

Pepper: "I don't--I don't understand why--after so many people got hurt--after everybody died at Stamford, and Stane and the Invasion, and--and--and after Steve and Bill and--and after Happy all died--why is it Tony that gets to come back? Why is it that Tony Stark is the one that gets everything back again?"

While most people sit back and initially say "ouch" you also realize that well... Pepper Potts, you may have a pretty good point there. The answer of course is because Tony planned his death... but you know, the devil's in the details.

On second thought, let's not go back into Tony's brain... it is a silly place.

But we're there and now with the teeth he's dug up some oranges.

Tony looks pretty confused by the oranges. In the Godfather, whenever a character has oranges near them or around them it's a signal that the character is going to die soon. So maybe that's something. And teeth are a sign of losing your mind or fear of losing your mind, which if you read Haunted... Tony did sort of battle with going nuts. But then he could have joined the schizo club with Hank and they could beat their wives together.

That is assuming Tony's Dick of Death doesn't kill her before he says I do...

I think Bethany Cabe is busy with Robo!Rhodey these days anyway.

Moving on.

Howard comes over to him again as he's staring at the oranges in his hand. I think they might actually be tangerines. But whatever.

Howard: "Any luck with anything?"

Tony: "No, Just--Deja vu. Howard, hasn't this already happened before now? Isn't this just happening again?"

Howard: "Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a tangerine. Put 'em 'neath your pillow and--"

Tony: "Yeah, yeah, a billionaire by breakfast. I'm digging. Why am I digging?"

Howard: "Shame we have to stop right now, isn't it?"

Maria shows up behind Howard. It's pretty obvious here that Tony doesn't remember Howard and Maria as his parents. He knows he knows them, they seem to have some kind of relationship but not a parent to son sort of conversation. With Howard that isn't surprising, with Maria and Tony that's a sign that in Tony's head, they don't have any relation to each other. Fellow diggers in the Daliesque wasteland.

Tony: "And now the screaming and running starts and the giant things come--"

Haha! He is so over this. Tony calls shenanigans on this. He keeps digging.

Maria: "Tony, something's coming."

Random person: "RUN!"

Howard: "We have to get out of here--"

Tony stays put he wants to do some more digging and he doesn't want to keep playing his own in head version of Groundhog Day without the mildly redeeming quality of Bill Murray. But not really all that redeeming.

Tony: "Digging, I was digging for something here right here--"

Maria: "Tony--!"

Maria is trying to drag Howard, Howard is trying to save Tony and Tony is down in the dirt continuing to dig so that he can figure out what he's trying to find in there.

Tony: "There's something under here! There's something iron buried under here help m--"

Fade out

New York City, Avengers Tower:

Awesome. Just when you think you're done with Stormin' Norman, he's back with a shit eating grin on his face. How's that shit taste, Norman? Does it taste of Wictory? (Everything is funnier when you replace V with W, like Wanda in that crappy Avengers cartoon. Case and point: Wictor Won Doom)

Basically what happens here in two pages of Norman Osborn is he calls all his goons failures and removes the bounty from Tony's head with no reward going to anyone for capturing him, and then he tells them to get out of his life, he has to run the world. Also, he doesn't want Tony touched because he'd rather let him rot as a "a good little vegetable". So no more bounty. And no one is to kill Tony. And then he thanks Whitney for all her help lately. And Hood is all "...what?"

Whitney, of course, doesn't give to thoughts about the bounty. It was never about the money for her with Tony. She wants to end him because well she has her own personal politics and it has to do with apparently Tony's former company. That and well, she's a woman scorned I guess. I'm not really sure why she's going on about his company since it doesn't exist anymore. Long story short, she hires Ghost to take out Tony.

Ghost is in.

In the Stark Wasteland

Tony's found more oranges and more teeth. The long range shots of Tony are not consistent with the close ups, just so everyone knows. He looks completely different when you have a full head few than when you have just his face, which doesn't make any sense to me.

Tony: "Just a bit ago I thought about an orange and now... what the hell is going on?"

Howard: "Any luck with--"

Tony: "Howard. All of this is happening again. So help."

Howard: "Help? Ahh... I just don't get what it is you mean by help."

That's right, because Howard is a jerkface and he would never be helpful in anyway, I mean... if this was actually life.

Tony: "Dig."

Howard and Tony start to dig and Maria shows up behind them.

Tony: "Howard, help me dig this up, man."

Howard: "I'm trying to--"

Tony: "It's about elbow-deep, c'mon."

Maria: "Shame we have to stop right now, isn't it. Tony, something's--"

Tony: "Maria I know they're coming for the love of god get down here and help me dig--"

They stop. They have apparently found something, or what they were looking for because this panel has all three of them looking down into the dirt and taking in the sight.

Maria: "What are we--"

Tony: "There, right there--did you feel it?"

Howard: "Well I'll be damned. What is it?"

From the above view, we see they are all looking at part of the exposed chest plate of the Iron Man, complete with the glowing center arc reactor. Well then. Guess we know what Tony was digging for now. So here is my amateur attempt at the symbolism. Tony was in his mind digging up the Iron Man and before finding that chunk of the armor he found teeth because the Iron Man has nearly driven him insane on many occasions or caused him the fear that he would go insane. Or maybe even the idea of battling evil in a suit of armor is insane. The oranges, if they mean death, are because the Iron Man has nearly cost Tony his life a billion times over... including this time.

Maybe? Who knows. I guess time will tell.

The giant mechanical monster arrives again. Tony stares at it face on and Maria and Howard cling to each other for support because they know shit is going to go down here.

Tony: "I don't understand. What did I do?" What do I have to d"

Fade out

And... scene!

The rest of this issue after this isn't story but "If you haven't read Iron Man in the past ten years or haven't been following until now, here's what you missed."

Bite me. I'm not going to dignify it by including it in the recap.

See you next month.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Invincible Iron Man Issue #19

When we last read TONY STARK: GOING FULL RETARD, Tony was in a Gorillaz music video before heading off to Dubai to end his deletion process, Osborn was hot on his tail. And Pepper-Not-Masque-Potts was helping Maria and Natasha Potts escape the clutches of HAMMER while Hand of Justice found Masque inside the Crimson Dynamo armor and JARVIS released a virus to render the Iron Man armors useless.

Invincible Iron Man #19: Into the White (Einstein on the Beach)

New York City
Avengers Tower:

A HAMMER doctor is talking to Hand of Justice about Masque's condition. She's curled up, bald with what looks like a hockey mask on to cover that hideous face of hers. She's dehydrated after being locked in that thing for nine hours, she also has burns, abrasions, three broken bones. And the who ever she's being impersonated by is still at large.

Like you haven't figured out it's Pepper yet? I mean really?! The last person who supposedly saw Potts alive last was the imposter Masque... you haven't put two and two together yet? These HAMMER people are dumb, the sad part is they used to work for SHIELD...

The doctor asks if Hand of Justice has told Osborn yet, and she isn't really listening. She's just realized that maybe taking the job as Osborn's answer to Potts wasn't the best idea since where Stark would just fire you; Osborn will hang you by your toe nails and kick you in the face while he giggles for your wrong doing. She says she heard him and that she hasn't told him yet because she needs to kill the imposter first, or else everyone dies.

Disheartenment in the key of Osborn.

Meanwhile, in a random hallway

Maria, Natasha Potts and Pepper Potts (who are still indistinguishable from each other. The only reason I know Maria is Maria is she has black hair) are standing against a wall in their skin tight ensembles. Of course, Fraction... they fight crime in little to nothing...

The Potts twins are on the look out as some HAMMER flunkies are on the other side of the wall, being useless.

Maria: "Pepper Potts."

Pepper: "Yes."

Maria: "We're being rescued by Pepper Potts."

Pepper: "Yes."

At this point, they're facing each other and having a bitch fest with Natasha Potts in the middle looking like daddy just hit mommy at the dinner table and now they're forced to eat in awkward silence.

Maria: "Tony Stark's secre--"

Pepper: "Yes, Hill. That's right. The former Director of SHIELD is getting rescued by the former secretary of Tony Stark. Would you rather go back to your cell and work out your own escape plan? Because you and the Black Widow here weren't doing so hot."

Natasha: "Shut up, Hill. Nobody has any problems here at all, Pepper, thank you, in fact."

Maria: "You waltzed in here alone to grab us and now we're out--I was just wondering when the shooting would start."

Pepper: "That's just it. No shooting."

They've made it into an elevator now and Pepper is putting the mask back and hair piece back on to be Not!Masque again.

Pepper: "We're just going to walk out the front door. Just Madame Masque and her prisoners... And I told you--I didn't come here alone. JARVIS? I know you're awake now..."

Eighty-Two Floors above:

Iron Potts stands over a pile of collapsed Iron Man armors ready to fight another day, like the badass piece of machinery it is. Like, this is the sentient armor but much cooler and not even remotely creepy.

JARVIS: "Ah, Ms. Potts. Lovely to hear your voice again. I've executed full-body control of the rescue armor and have just located the Stark Drive."

Pepper: "Excellent. Have they managed to do anything with it?"

JARVIS: "No, Ma'am. The decryption should keep from working for about... 750,000 years."

Pepper: "Great. What about the virus?"

JARVIS: "I've just uploaded our viral payload to Osborn's extant Stark Tech. Shall you be fetching the drive?"

Pepper: "Yes. Where?"

JARVIS: "It's on the thirty third floor. Room nine."

Pepper: "Okay--we're almost to the lobby now. We can--"

Before she finishes, Hand of Justice announces a code red and to lock down the tower. She authorizes HAMMER goons to terminate them on sight which, was the best case for them right? Osborn would probably torture them by making them all look at his hair and try to figure out how it's genetically possible. JARVIS says he retrieve them or the drive but Pepper sends him after the drive. The drive is what they need and if the girls are already screwed, JARVIS needs to screw Osborn.

Osborn is flying over Pakistan and bitching to Walsh about his location. Walsh claims to be having trouble with the Stark tech and locating Tony. Walsh feeds him coordinates to continue going south by southeast (except if you knew a map and where Tony is heading, that's the opposite direction). Walsh is having second thoughts about being a rat. Osborn is convinced something is wrong and tries to get in contact with Hand of Justice who isn't answering him.

Walsh: "Um, sir? I, uh--I think she's busy at the--"

Osborn: "--so busy she doesn't have time to talk to her boss, Walsh? Too busy for the man that single-handedly beat back the Skrull Invasion of Earth? Too busy for the leader of the Avengers? Too busy for the Iron Patriot?"

Oh Osborn, your temper tantrums make me giggle like no ones business. You're such a little bitch. You're the Veruca Salt of Marvel. I want a golden goose that lays golden eggs and I want it now!

Osborn: "Where? Is? STARK?"

He emphasizes his hissy with a repulsor blast. Mature, really.


Stark is bouncing along in the old original gray armor. I'm not joking. He's bouncing around. Leaping like a kangaroo. A big, metal, kangaroo. With no nose.

Tony narration: Keep--keep moving, Tony--keep--keep moving.

Tony: "Just keep moving. Almost done. Almost to Dubai. Almost--"

Walsh's superior catches on that Walsh is sending Osborn in the wrong direction. He arrests Walsh for not being a team player, which I guess you're supposed to feel bad for him, but I don't because he's been a jerk since the beginning of this run and I think he's getting his just desserts. Whatever. So this new guy who is unfortunately named Gormley and sort of looks like Peter Sellers on a bad day. He's also Osborn's kind of guy as he sets him in the right direction to find Stark. Great. This will only end in tears and blood shed, but I think we knew that.

He finally gets Hand of Justice to answer him, and this is all very boring now. Can we just get to the action? I want to see some shit go down. 18 issues I had to wait for the shit to go down and now I have to put up with ten pages of boring chatter and Osborn being whiney and then gloating? I WANNA SEE SOME DAMAGE. THE BEST THING WE'VE HAD TO A FIGHT IN THIS ARC WAS TONY VS NAMOR (and I guess Shockwave, but that was a pretty lame battle) AND WELL... IT'S NAMOR!! COME ONE MAN!!!



Hand of Justice is surprised how calm Osborn sounds even calls him chipper. This is how Osborn responds...

Osborn: "I'm twenty-six minutes away from Tony Stark and that precious little mind of his. Twenty-six minutes away from the world's smartest man," (Reed Richards is here now?) "from punishing that stupid little brat that's made me chase him half way around the world like an idiot. So yes, Ms Hand. I think we can safely put today in the win column."

Well then. Stupid little brat, huh? See? The maturity here...

Back in the tower elevator:

The girls are still corner in the elevator and Pepper tells Natasha Potts to push the elevator button and pray, while she takes care of the guards. The HAMMER guys yell fire on the women. Pepper uses her arc reactor for... something that isn't really clear, but apparently she can tear apart metal with it? Well that doesn't work apparently because the doors shut and they nearly get widdled with buwwets!

Pepper checks in wit JARVIS who has now hacked the systems in the tower, no one is doing anything without their say so. And the girls make a plan. Pepper's going to get the Iron Potts, Maria and Natasha Potts are going after the drive. No meets ups. They just run and hope to see each other again. And if not, they die trying. Which, according to Natasha Potts, is pretty likely.

Well then... there go Tony's Angels.

Dubai, finally.

Tony's tired of jumping around like Iron Kangaroo. He can't do it anymore. He's out of power and energy.

Tony narration: --can't fly no more--can't jump--can't--can only--run--let the thing do its thing and--keep run--run good--

So painful. He's so retarded now. And Osborn is closing in behind him. Tony is literally a sitting target. He's just standing there oblivious to the trouble of behind him. Oh this is going to hurt and it's exactly the action I've been damn waiting for.

Osborn: "Oh, God--That tin can doesn't even have radar--SSSSTTTAAAARRRRKKK!!"

Osborn fires on Tony with repulsors and little rockets from his shoulders. Tony just deflects them, he doesn't fire back or move to aggress. He's sort of running away.

Osborn: "Give me just a second of silence. So i can enjoy this, y'know? If you start talking right now you'll ruin this next part..."

Tony: "Something. Something wrong."

His forehead is bleeding already as Iron Patriot comes into full few, dropping down to the ground on the same level as Tony and the gray armor. Tony backs away from Osborn.

Osborn: "Really, Stark? Really? Not even going to acknowledge the paint job? I won't lie to you, Tony, I really went out of my way to try and piss you off with this thing. And you're giving me nothing here. C'mon."

Saying "really" is my thing! Fuck you, Osborn. You can't have it! Go back to crazy town and run things there with Mayor McCheese!

Tony: "Gotta. Gotta go. Gotta--"

Osborn fires on him with more repulsors.

Osborn: "FIGHT ME!"

The 33rd floor of Avengers Tower:

The girls are in the elevator. Natasha Potts questions what's on the hard drive but Maria never asked because she's a soldier and they don't ask questions, just follow the boss's orders. Pepper doesn't give any input but she probably doesn't know either. They finally split up to go and reek havoc on HAMMER in their own little suicide plan. Good morning, Angels.

Maria and Natasha Potts head down the hallway and sneak passed some windows before kicking open a door ninja style. They stand in fighting stance ready to take on whoever wants to go with them. It's pretty badass and Maria seems to be back in fighting form. Go Maria!

Maria: "C'mon--who wants some?"

Random Scientist: "Um. We could plug it in but nothing happened and we don't know why. So... please don't hurt us?"

Pussies. All of them. Angels 1, HAMMER 0.

Tony is down for the count on the desert floor and bleeding from various head wounds now. He's sad and pathetic and now you really start to see the extent of what he's done to himself full swing. He's mentally obliterated and running on basic instinct at this point. Go where you need to go and don't stop until you get there.

Tony: "Don' wanna fight. Get up. Gotta go."

He tries to get up but Osborn grabs him by the throat and tosses him down again with force. He cracks the ground with the blow of his body before Osborn picks him up again and holds him in the air by the neck of the armor.

Osborn: "Stark, come on. Are you kidding me? I mean, Masque--whoever it is you've got pretending to be Masque, anyway--said you were losing it but this proto-Hulk patois is just cliched... I'm not going to let you walk away with all those secrets in your head. All that technology, all the identities of all your friends... I'm a little offended that I've so clearly beaten you and yet you can't even be bothered to look me in the eyes..."

Tony: "Dunno."

Osborn: "My God. He's really gone..."

He blasts Tony with another repuslor, sending him flying backwards against the ground, before going up into the air to bring down the fury against Tony while he's down.

Osborn: "well, I don't care how retarded you've gone and gotten yourself--you're not going to ruin this for me."

Iron Patriot moves in for a punch and Iron Man grabs his hand and holds on. The unibeam on the Iron Patriot starts to light up and Tony, covered and blood and grunting in the armor grits his teeth and gives in.

Tony: "Fine, Shiny. Fight. FIGHT!!"

He blasts Osborn back with a flame thrower.

Back at the tower,

Pepper (or as I'm going to call her, Farrah) has found her armor so she can finally be in something less ridiculous than the Madame Masque outfit. She goes over to the armor and takes off the helmet before getting ready to suit up.

JARVIS: "Ms Potts! Wonderful to see you again."

Potts: "That's... impressive."

JARVIS: "Every extant Stark suit within Osborn's horrid tendrils will be shut down by the virus soon."

Potts: "You've just very seriously damaged Osborn's ability to make war on Stark's name. Bravo, JARVIS."

JARVIS: "Yes, ma'am. Thank you, ma'am. And what follows? Have we a plan?"

Pepper: "Pray Maria Hill gets the job done then cut our losses and run like hell."

Pepper in the armor busts through the windows of the tower. She flies off talking to JARVIS about the second phase of his cheeky amazing plan. Seriously, if JARVIS doesn't stay part of IRON MAN continuing on into the future of the book, I will cry myself to sleep every Wednesday it comes out!

JARVIS: "Ma'am, while I was in the HAMMER dataspine I was able to link in to the Iron Patriot's repulsor track of Mr. Stark. I've taken the liberty of informing media outlets around the world that Norman Osborn is in Dubai trying to murder Tony Stark."

Pepper: "Good."

JARVIS: "Where to, ma'am?"

Pepper: "Anywhere but here. And turn on the news."

Angels 2, HAMMER 0

Dubai GNN Newsroom:

The news room is full of people looking over the footage they're getting from the dataspine. They're speaking in the brackets again so it's clear they aren't speaking English, he's just writing it in English.

<"Anybody else watching this? Is this legit?!?">

News Guy: <"It came from the HAMMER International Press Corps--">

News Girl: <"Is that--that's happening here? That's--">

News Guy: <"--If the feeds real then yeah, it says this is live, happening now... I mean, am I crazy or does that look like two Iron Man suits beating the hell of out of each other? Man, look at how many other newsorgs were cc'd on that announcement. They must've emailed this to every major media outlet in... in... the world.">

The Staff of GNN move out to cover this story.

Back at the Tower:

HAMMER SWAT guy: "Roger that-- All right, men, listen up. Two of 'em just left floor 33 and are on their way down. They have nowhere to go. They have nowhere to go but through us."

Inside the elevator Maria and Natasha come up with a plan.

Maria: "Well, what's the plan?"

Natasha: "You said it yourself, Hill. You're a soldier. Time to talk like it. And let's hope to god these guys that wnat tokill us still got a little soldier in 'em."

Maybe they have a little Cap'n in 'em too... I mean, if I worked for Osborn I'd be drunk 24/7 365... but I'm also a borderline alcoholic... enough about me.

The door opens and the boys are ready to unleash a field of lead on the the remaining two angels. That is when Maria Hill pulls up her big girl pants and straps on her badass to be the woman that Maria fans know she is. And the woman that Maria Haters love to Hate. A woman who once led these men. She moves her hands behind her back and stands up straight as they train their guns on her and Natasha. She's got the drive in hand.

Maria: "Stand at attention when a superior officer is in the room! Listen up: You're all SHIELD men, or you were once, now you're clowns for him. How many of you are tired of taking orders from a thug and a murderer like Norman Osborn? So dig deep, men, and ask yourself. Whose side are you on?"

I really wanted her to say "do you feel lucky, punk?" but that's not actually the correct quote from the movie and Fraction would know that. Man, hopes and dreams shattered...

The guards step aside and let Maria and Natasha go. Natasha is looking both confused, cautious and slightly impressed. And I officially love Maria Hill. She's looking kind hot now too, with her over grown hair.

Angels 3, HAMMER 0 TKO!

Back on the battlefield

Osborn: "Yesssss. Finally. FINALLY!"

He stands behind behind the smoke and flame while Tony holds his hands up. Osborn I guess... chest bumps him or something, sending Tony's armor backwards before Osborn closes in and slams Tony down face first into the ground, his hands crushing the back of the armor. That's probably going to damage his spine... ouch.

Osborn: "It won't feel so bad this way, Tony. You fight me back a little bit and I'm defending myself... and not just murdering you in cold blood."

He stands above Tony, who now is laying on his back, looking up at Osborn and the helicopters coming into view in the sky above them. Tony holds up his hands and through the holes in the helmet for his eyes you can see he's scared, confused and panicked. I don't really think he knows who Osborn is, or that that armor was one of his own designs.

Tony: "Please--"

Osborn: "That's it, Stark. Resist."

Osborn slams his fast into the helmet and it crushes under the blow. Tony looks visibly pained as the helicopters close in on them. The news crew above is taking video of their own now.

News Guy: <"Are you getting this? Is Stark even fighting back?">

News girl with camera: <"Yes. I'm getting this. And no. He's not.">

Tony is still on his back as Osborn pulls up Tony by the head, yanking off the helmet as he does.

Osborn: "Quit whining. Quit begging. it's not manly. It's not--masculine!"

He stares down Tony now that Tony is missing his helmet.

Osborn: "You know what I hate most about you, Stark? It's not that you were the smartest guy in the room. It's that you liked it so damn much. So what do you have to say for yourself now, smart guy?"

Tony takes a beat. He's broken, his face is covered in blood. He's probably barely registering most of this and he can't really keep his eyes open judging form the way they are mere slits on his face. Then, Tony Stark does one last Tony Stark like move. He lifts the corner of his mouth into a smirk before saying:

Tony: "I win."

Osborn loses it after that. Proving his point, sort of, but also it shows that Tony isn't completely gone yet and he's still going to get the last word on this situation. For all of Osborn's gloating, ranting, raving, whining... Tony Stark is still going to come out triumphant even if he doesn't live. Even if he doesn't fight back. Especially if he doesn't fight back? Why? Because Osborn looks like a murderer and Tony has lost all of the information in his head, as planned. He might die today but he's successfully achieved his goal.

Osborn: "You... You..."

Hand of Justice pipes in.

Hand: "Director Osborn! Director Osborn! This is Hand! Stop! You have to stop fighting Stark... it looks like you're killing him... someone leaked your location and now the entire world is watching this...! Do not kill Tony Stark! You'll make a martyr of him...!"

As Hand gives this warning, Osborn doesn't listen. He lifts both hands and about to fire a repulsor beam right into Tony's face. The helicopters tape it. It's on the giant screen in Time Square and the new commentary is:

"And we're seeing... I don't know what Iron Patriot isn't moving and-- wait, something's happening to Stark--"

The world watches with varying looks of sadness and dismay on the crowds faces.

Tony lies on the ground, apparently in the same blood puddle from a few issues ago, his eyes wide open in shock and his body rigid. It appears he's had another seizure, or he was repulsored in the face... depending on what you perceive from the video feed...

Osborn: "He's a criminal! This man is a wanted criminal--a dangerous--a danger... get down here! Get down here now! I just captured Tony Stark."

The helicopters leave Osborn standing there alone, with Tony's body at his feet.

The next panel is a heart monitor screen registering what looks like a pretty slow but steady heart beat.

The next is a HAMMER physician and Osborn, with Tony's broken and bloody body on a bed behind them covered in machines and blankets, tubes and wires. A bandage around his head. They didn't even bother to clean the blood off of him, which... is kind of cruel. To make the whole thing sadder, and so much more eerie... Tony's eyes remain wide open.

Doctor: "A skull fracture, a broken nose and a shattered cheek, concussion, a gunshot wound to the neck, six broken ribs, burns, cuts, bruises... topped off with a persistent vegetative state."

Osborn: "He's brain-dead?"

Doctor: "No, that's a different thing."

Osborn: "What's with the air-tubes then?"

Doctor: "Whatever the cybernetic grafts that connected his metabiology to the repulsor generators were... they connected to his brain stem. Stark deliberately inflicted damage to the whole of his mind--including the part that knew how to breathe. But, here, watch--"

The doctor pokes Tony's foot with a pin and his toes curl in reflex reaction.

Doctor: "--He can still respond to stimuli and the like. But any awareness, consciousness, or knowledge is lost forever."

Osborn: "What can we salvage?"

Doctor: "There's nothing left to salvage, sir. His mind no longer knows how to make his body breathe, let alone something like... his social security number."

I bet it's five.

Osborn: "Or the contents of the super human registration database. Or how to make a repulsor battery."

Doctor: "Yes, sir."

Osborn: "Pull the plug."

Doctor: "What?!?"

Osborn goes to leave making his way down the hall and out of the room where Tony's being kept alive by machines. The doctor follows in a hurry. This is all very sad that Tony's body is in the custody of HAMMER.

Doctor: "Director Osborn, we--"

Osborn: "--Have a million things to do before we get home, Doctor McGraw. We have to organize not one, but three nationwide manhunts for all the balls Hand dropped--We need to doctor footage of the Iron Man fight so it doesn't look like I was beating up an invalid, we--"

Doctor McGraw: "Sir we cannot pull the plug on Tony Stark!"

Osborn: "Why the hell not? Dump him in the ship's furnace and we'll say we're even recycling--"

Doctor McGraw: "Director Osborn. The HAMMER charter states that the helicarrier is, in essence, a flying embassy--meaning that US law is recognized onboard and--"

Osboen: "So?"

Doctor McGraw: "So, Stark has a livig will and transferred his power of attorney over to his personal physician. Legally this is an end-of-life decision only Tony Stark's doctor can make."

Osborn: "Give me the damn thing and let me read it for my... Who the hell is "Doctor Donald Blake"?"

Broxton, Oklahoma:

Sooner Motel

"Hello? This is Don Blake. Hello, Doctor McGraw."

Maria with the drive in hand, Iron Potts holding her helmet, Bucky!Cap and Black Widow all stand in the motel room with their heads bowed as Don sits on the edge of the bed, head also hung, face saddened as he speaks to the man on the other end of the line.

Don: "Yeah. I've been expecting your call..."

And so brings an end to World's Most Wanted...

Next month starts the new arc:

Stark: Disassembled.