IronMan8

Say what you want about Brian Michael Bendis, but the man’s self-awareness is better than 95 percent of the rest of the writers employed by Marvel. When he knows a particular story is open to criticism, he tends to find ways to subtly acknowledge the problem within the issue as a way of disarming bloggers like yours truly.

Take, for example, Invincible Iron Man #8, which is bursting at the seams with all it’s trying to accomplish. It is busy, busy, busy — but at one point Spider-Man says of the situation, “Ninjas and robots and Rhodey in his embarrassing boxers, oh my!”

Touché, Mr. Bendis. Touché.

For those who have not been reading the story, it goes as follows: Tony Stark offered a job to Mary Jane, Rhodey disappeared in Japan trying to find bio-hacking ninjas, and Spider-Man was called to help find him.

IIM #8, again, is a very busy issue. Mary Jane appears to walk away from Stark’s job offer (we know that won’t last), Iron Man and Spider-Man look for Rhodey, and it all culminates in a battle involving a horde of ninjas and a gigantic Iron-Man-inspired suit that utilizes mysterious technology.

Question: Is it a good issue?

Answer: Yes — with one minor caveat.

The problem with writers who take on Tony Stark and Peter Parker is that sometimes they use the sarcasm button too many times in a single issue. Yes, both men are masters at the one-liner. Yes, both men use sarcasm to mask all sorts of fears and insecurities, but it is possible to overdo it. Using such a trait when it’s uncalled for makes a character come across as a jerk. Luckily for Bendis, he realizes that one way to add extra gravity to the book is to find a situation so dangerous that it finally shuts Tony up.

IronMan8 Tony

Whoever this new villain is, he or she found a way to leave Tony speechless by the last page. It was a welcome surprise after countless panels of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Rhodey all basically blowing off what appeared to be a serious opponent.

In many ways IIM #8 was going to succeed or fail based upon what happened on the final page, and it is safe to say that Bendis … detonated it.

IM8 explosion

Invincible Iron Man continues to be one of Marvel’s most carefully crafted books. If you want stories by a “writer’s writer,” then you should check out Bendis. If you want “nuke the fridge” moments reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, then I suggest checking out Dan Slott’s run on The Amazing Spider-Man.

Bendis Bonus:

If you’re like me, then you were glad to see that Bendis seems to feel the same way about Spider-Man’s stupid glowing spider on the new suit. In response to finding out that Iron Man’s suit has A.I., Spider-Man says, “Cool. My spider glows now for no apparent reason.”

Zing!

IronMan SpiderMan

 

 

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About the Author Douglas Ernst

I'm a former Army guy who believes success comes through hard work, honesty, optimism, and perseverance. I believe seeing yourself as a victim creates a self-fulfilling prophecy. I believe in God. I'm a USC Trojan with an MA in Political Science from American University.

8 comments

  1. What you pointed out at the end there, it reminds me of the Deadpool movie which I recently watched (it was great!). They nailed that aspect. In one scene that I remember, Deadpool is serious — when they take someone important to him. He doesn’t joke about it, he gets legitimately angry. That’s the perfect amount of seriousness for a character known for being snarky. If you overdo it, then the character doesn’t seem to care about the problems he’s dealing with and so you don’t care either.

    1. “That’s the perfect amount of seriousness for a character known for being snarky. If you overdo it, then the character doesn’t seem to care about the problems he’s dealing with and so you don’t care either.”

      It really bugs me when writers don’t seem to care or fully grasp the underlying reasons why a character might use sarcasm — they just act as if the character is popular because he is sarcastic.

      It’s kind of like the problem I’ve discussed with The Punisher before, where the mentality of some writers appears to be, “He’s The Punisher. He ‘punishes’ people, so let’s just make him a killing machine and increase the body count and it will be cool…because punishment! And stuff. Cool!”

    2. “When they take someone important to him. He doesn’t joke about it, he gets legitimately angry. That’s the perfect amount of seriousness for a character known for being snarky. If you overdo it, then the character doesn’t seem to care about the problems he’s dealing with and so you don’t care either.”

      You know like that time when Peter came back from the dead after having Doctor Octopus taking over his life and his reputation as a hero for an intere year and Peter became really traumatized and angry that no one noticed and no one even cared to make amends with him or Peter having something like nightmares or some consequences because of Otto’s actions… oh wait that didn’t happened. We got Arachno-Rockets.
      Thanks Dan Slott.

  2. You don’t mean to say that most comic-book writers are not the cream of the literary world, do you??

    Serious question: Has there ever been someone who started out as a comic-book writer, who later made it as a serious novelist or screenwriter? Even Stan called himself the “hackiest of hacks”, which was nicely self-deprecating. He was a “great literature” fan, and felt a wee bit embarrassed by his line of work!

    1. Didn’t Bendis start out in comics but move on to television and film? I’m not sure of the order, but I think that’s the case.

      I don’t think Neil Gaiman started out as a comic-book writer per se, but didn’t he really break out with comics?

      I honestly see very little difference between writing a comic and writing a screenplay. In fact, a good comic basically gives the movie studios a script plus the story boards. Hence, “300” and “Watchmen.” I don’t care what anyone says about Snyder’s job on “Watchmen.” I thought that was a great adaptation of the comic.

      I was really bummed out when Joseph Gordon-Levitt left “Sandman.” He was working closely with Gaiman on that for years. I’m assuming the studio was being incredibly stupid. Gordon-Levitt has a very keen creative eye. I’m not sure why the studio wouldn’t trust his instincts with “Sandman.”

  3. MJ running away again? Ugh, I know she’ll rise to the occasion just in time for the ASM Power Play event, but I’m getting a bit tired of her flip-flopping. Especially when characters like her daily strip counterpart are routinely running into danger and making wisecracks about every antagonist in the strip wanting to get in her pants.

  4. I’d wish Bendis would get out of that stuffy office of his and hear how people actually speak; I didn’t like his speech habits in his novels, I didn’t like it in his solo comics like Daredevil and Ultimate Spider-Man, I didn’t like it in his team comics like Avengers, and I certainly don’t like it now.

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