There is nothing terribly wrong with “Haunted.”
Oh, there are some minor issues, things that might have raised my rating a half-a-bullet or so. For one thing, the Knaufs – or De La Torre, if he is deviating from the script or if this book is being written via the “Marvel Method” – make some odd choices when it comes to panel breakdowns. Consider the first two panels of the story, which could have so very easily been combined into one panel. As a consequence, the initial scene of the story could have been cut from roughly two-and-a-third pages to two pages, and it may be Alan-Moorish of me, but I think it’s always better when scenes conclude at the end of pages rather than in the middle of them.
Then there are the first two panels of page eleven. In panel one, Doc Samson yells at Tony to do something, then in panel two he amps up the volume as Tony refuses to comply. Cool, but if they really wanted to get across that Tony was slow to comply with Samson’s instructions, why not include a panel between in which nothing happens – no dialogue, no actions – to let us know that time was passing. It’s such a standard, time-tested comics device and would have added urgency to Samson’s command as he and Tony played good-cop-bad-cop.
But those minor kinds of issues aside, there is nothing wrong with “Haunted.” On the other hand, there is nothing really right with it, either. It is just the calm before the storm; all that happens is that everyone else learns that the Mandarin is still alive and up to no good. We get a full explanation of his fiendish schemes – in a scene that is a deliciously enjoyable version of the clichéd “Let me reveal my master plan to the damsel in distress” scene; the Knaufs are, generally speaking, excellent writers who can take a scene like this and make it seem fun rather than trite – and Tony tracks down his old enemy to set up next issue’s conflict.
We’ve spent several issues watching a plot unfold and building to a confrontation. In this issue all that happens is that the exact details of that plot are revealed and we get the promise of that conflict in the next issue. In other words, nothing happens.
If you’ve been following this storyline and you’re an Iron Man fan, pick it up. If you haven’t been reading The Iron Man from U.N.C.L.E. and are thinking of giving it a try, don’t start here.
And now for some whining. Note that I’ve said a couple of times now that there is nothing wrong with “Haunted.” Well there isn’t, but there most certainly is a problem with Iron Man #25 as a whole.
The primary story – the feature attraction – is, as I’ve indicated, perfectly adequate. But this is a special $3.99 issue, with some extra content.
We get a re-print of the origin of Iron Man from the original Iron Man #1. Hey, it’s Goodwin, Colan and Craig, so you know it’s good stuff. And it is. But this stuff has been reprinted countless times now. Do we really need another reprint? If you’re an Iron Man fan, and if you’re spending four bucks on a comic you must be a fan, you already know this story, and have probably even read this version. I’m not a fan of the character per se – I’ve just been digging this storyline – and even I’ve read it.
We also get an illustrated history of Iron Man’s different armors. In other words, nothing you couldn’t find on Wikipedia or Marvel.com’s Marvel Universe section.
We also get some promo photos from the upcoming Iron Man movie – again, nothing we couldn’t find with a few mouse clicks.
Finally, we get an excerpt from the upcoming Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas by Jon Favreau and Adi Granov that looks truly, truly dreadful. You want stiff, uninteresting art? Check out the face on that terrorist on page three. He is supposed to be screaming, but he looks like he is in some sort of vegetative coma. You want action-movie-esque clichés? Well, thrill to Tony challenging a suicide bomber to “step outside” as he approaches him from behind. Why wouldn’t he use the element of surprise to disarm him? Why would he alert him to his presence with an – amusing? – snarky remark? Who cares? Who needs logic? Do you want unnatural dialogue? Try this on for size: “I will take you to hell, Iron Man!”
He’ll take him to hell? So he’ll make him read Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas in its entirety?
So I spent a dollar extra to get content I could have found elsewhere for free and to read ads for some upcoming projects, and spent three dollars on a story that did little but kill time before the showdown. Learn from my mistake, folks: Leave this issue on the rack.
What did you think of this book?
Have your say at the Line of Fire Forum!