Iron Man

     Published by Marvel Comics, issues are 22 pages and priced at $2.25.

     I'm thinking of a few words that aren't normally used to describe the mood of Iron Man, but certainly apply to issue #'s 26-30, a storyline entitled, "The Mask in the Iron Man." Creepy, chilling, disturbing, REFRESHING! The last three issues have been especially enjoyable, with events which caught many readers off their guard.

     For years, wealthy industrialist Tony Stark has used his Iron Man identity to combat the forces of evil, and protect the innocent. But now, after counting on his armor as his primary weapon in this struggle, Stark finds it to be perhaps the most dangerous enemy he has every faced. As a result of the Y2k bug, and a lighting strike, the armor is alive, and extremely: menacing. During a fight with Whiplash, it overrides Stark's control, and, to it's creator's horror, mercilessly beats the villain to death (issue #28). What follows is a tale of how the creator tries to shut down his creation. The armor first acts as a jealous, jilted lover, then decides that it can be Iron Man without Tony Stark (#'s 29- 30). The story culminates in a battle on a deserted island where Tony Stark pits frail human flesh and the powerful human mind against the pinnacle of his own technological achievement.

     This is the most enjoyable Iron Man storyline that I have read in years. The persona of the armor lends a quality to the story similar to what you might get if you crossed Hal, the computer from "2001; A Space Odyssey," with Kathy Bates' character from "Misery." Quite bizarre.

     This is new writer Joe Quesada's first storyline, and with it, he is off to a stellar beginning with ol' Shellhead. New artist Alitha Martinet also debuts in issue #29, as Sean Chen finishes up in #30.

     If this is any indication of what we can expect from Quesada and Martinez, fans may want to take a serious look at Iron Man. Review by M.A.


Lex Luthor 

     I was usually repulsed in the 1950s and 1960s by the bland comic books devoted to Superman’s supporting cast; however, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen were popular and are now valuable.

     DC Comics has revamped those characters and made them more interesting, but I still felt queasy when I first saw Superman’s Enemy: Lex Luthor on the racks. I am happy to admit I was wrong.

     David Michelinie's script offers considerable insight into the complexities of the most popular and notorious villain in comics history. I doubt that a Luthor title could endure as long as the Olsen or Lane titles did, but this four issue series is worth acquiring.

     Another member of the supporting cast has enjoyed another four issue series that may be a tryout for a permanent series. I did not care for the Bizarro series that ran in Adventure Comics in the 1960s, but some of the humor was clever. The new series, a Bizarro, is a definite improvement but might not appeal to everyone.

     Steve Gerber's script is good. He manages to work in the villain Darkseid and the world of Apokolips into the story. One of the more interesting characters is a girl who aspires to be a warrior on a par with Big Barda from Jack Kirby's New Gods title.

     The ingredients for a new series are there, but the prospects are hazy.

     Another stab at humor Is DC's Plastic Man Special. As with the original Bizzaros, a little of this character goes a long way. DC uses Plas as a minor character in JLA where his antics are offensive to other members.

     The Special is written by Ty Templeton, but the four stories all have different artists. My favorite is "The Secreted Origin of Woozy Wonks". The utter stupidity of Plastic Man's crony provided much of the humor in Cole's stories.

     The best and most popular version of Plastic Man was Jack Cole's for Quality Comics. I would spend my money on Cole stones.

     Review by Dr. Jon Suter