“Vegas Bleeds Neon, Part 2”
Writer: Robin Laws
Artists: Robert Teranishi (p), Eric Cannon & Robin Riggs (i)
When Tony Stark dons new armor, he’s much like a kid freshly dressed to visit grandma—he can’t wait to get scuffed and dirty. But for Stark, getting scuffed and dirty requires a full-blown alien invasion. In Vegas Bleeds Neon—Part 2, writer Robin Laws and penciler Robert Teranishi unveil new Iron Man armor as Stark’s Las Vegas vacation escalates into a perilous investigation involving a corrupt casino-owner, Howard Hughes, and extraterrestrial hostility.
Laws continues to honor Stark’s multi-faceted nature. As the eternal playboy, Stark smoothly secures lodging at the house of beautiful private investigator, Saige Kaufman; as the pompous billionaire, he brags about his fully-operational and obedient mobile research team; and as the genius, Stark outlines the intricacies of his latest armor. Laws also endows Stark with precise and colorful dialogue: “That smell… like stomach acid…” Yet, the story feels crammed. Stark must destroy his old armor, identify the nanoplasm (a bloodlike fluid full of submicroscopic machine organisms) that possessed his old armor, investigate a casino-owner, break into an underground bunker which is the rumored site of a UFO landing, destroy the nanoplasm that controls the bunker, rescue a captive, and bust out of the collapsed bunker—all the while test-running his new armor. Marc Vicus, the suspicious casino-owner, describes Las Vegas as “designed to steal a man’s bearings.” Often, this issue seems designed with the same intent.
Unfortunately, Teranishi’s art often adds to the confusion. After the opening struggle with his old armor, Stark curiously examines what seems to be a piece of broken mirror. The reader is led to wonder what relevance the shard could possibly have; it ends up, Stark’s holding scanning equipment. More confusing is the bunker scene; the new armor is damaged, but this isn’t even evident until Stark says so.
Furthermore, gone is the vibrant dazzle of Vegas so celebrated in part 1 of this story arc. Upon reflection, however, this could be intentional and beneficial. The raw force of the desert becomes central. A rising wind shakes the city’s banners and flags; dust clouds gather in the distance; the sun blazes; barbed cactuses emerge—all giving the impression of a looming threat to humanity. Also, the new armor, less robust than previous suits, is well-depicted with a smooth fluidity of motion.
Overall, this issue has some entertaining character moments and effective atmospheric art, but demands a lot of attention to decipher the action.
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