Iron Man takes on 13 Extremis-charged beauties in the Paris Catacombs in IRON MAN #4.
Iron Man #4
There are only two Extremis signatures left. One is a moving target, but the other is stationary, located in the Catacombs under Paris. The only problem is the signal shows 13 Extremis Enhanciles. Tony dons a new weapons-laden tank of a suit and heads out. There he finds 13 beautiful blonde women, all transformed into mindless weapons, and the scientist who created them to be the carriers for some Lovcraftian outer space demon. Using their own magic symbol-based programming against them, Tony is able to shut them down and “mercy kills” all but one, who hasn’t moved the entire fight. He confines her to the Raft without realizing that she is pregnant, most likely with whatever dark monster she was created to contain.
I love metaphor in a story, when the regular super-hero slugfest is infused with some meaning beyond pure action or continuity check-lists. Here we have a story that opens with Pepper questioning Tony’s ability or willingness to treat women as anything other than objects, underscored by his mistaking a blonde poet for a blonde stunt-driver and letting her take his car for a spin. And it ends with Iron Man fighting an army of blonde women transformed into mindless objects, and Tony’s admission to Pepper that the women that breeze through his life do all look alike to him, all except her.
In fact, looking back at the series as a whole, I’m starting to get that every stand-alone issue features Tony confronting some aspect of himself, monstrous and distorted to be sure, represented by the villain of the story. Arthur and Merlin in #2 represent Tony’s obsession with both technology and his own image/reputation. Valencia and his daughter in #3 echoes Tony’s refusal to accept his own mortality by “replacing” his heart with a machine. And here we deal with Tony’s issues with women.
And really, that’s what any good comic or story should be, in my opinion. Any problem or villain in a story is a representation of something the hero struggles with in him or herself. Anyway, enough Joseph Campbell….
One of the things I am still digging about this series, along with the single issue tales, is that each story is wildly different than the one before. Extremis has been a wonderful tool to apply to any situation and create drama. From the expected army of Iron Man wannabes, to a drug lord trying to save his daughter, to someone using super-science to build a container for a Lovecraftian space-god, I never know what is going to happen next in the series.
Also too, every issue features a different armor. Here we get some fusion of War Machine and Hulk Buster, and it STILL isn’t enough! Tony’s line “I could fight a Hulk in this suit. Just not thirteen of them!” really upped the adrenaline in the tale, and forced Tony to use his most deadly weapon of all, his mind, to solve the problem. Iron Man fighting Magic is something I’m not really used to seeing (even if the Mandarian used magic. Wait, were his rings magic…?). But used here it manages to keep things fresh and creates another potential returning threat for Iron Man.
So we get an exciting battle, Tony confronting yet another of his personal demons, a new suit and tons of great art by Greg Land. Not to mention another seed planted for use in a later issue, what with the evil space-god and all.
Without a doubt, this is my favorite book I’m reading. Even with the hefty $4 price tag, I’m thrilled this title comes out every other week.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Great drama, both in and out of Tony’s head||None, really|