Sunday, July 28, 2013

Cry Marauder!

You have to appreciate a villain who lives up to his name, which is something the Masked Marauder excels at. When this guy marauds, he marauds. Mainly a nemesis to Daredevil, his schemes have been pretty ambitious; and he was even clever enough to set up a fight between DD and Spider-Man, just to keep both of them out of his way while he pulled off a heist. Now he's moved up to stealing space shuttles:

And he's not even worried about Iron Man. It certainly appears that the Marauder has climbed up a few rungs on the villain ladder. As for Iron Man, he's more worried about nurses while he's visiting a sick friend at a Detroit hospital:

Nor does his alter-ego, Tony Stark, get cut any slack by the rest of the nursing staff:

Finally, though, Stark is tracked down at a restaurant and given the bad news:

Given that the Marauder is apparently prepared for Iron Man's interference, Stark might want to consider swinging by that hospital and bringing a few of those RNs with him as backup.

In this two-part story, writer Mike Friedrich adeptly makes something out of nothing, since the Marauder would normally be small change to Iron Man. There are some minor detours to act as filler, such as Stark's liaisons with Roxanne Gilbert (sister to one of his foes, Firebrand) and Pepper Hogan (caught up in marital difficulties with her husband, Happy), but Friedrich uses them in an attempt to add complexity and depth to Stark--nor is he letting Stark off the hook so easily from his background as a munitions manufacturer. When Iron Man jets off to battle, it feels to us like almost a relief to turn the page and leave all of that domestic upheaval behind. You'd almost believe that Stark ran his company on his own--there is as yet no Stark support team that writer David Michelinie would later put in place that would more effectively (and interestingly) give the depth to Stark that Friedrich struggles so hard here to convey.

Friedrich relates somewhat better to Iron Man, who's more suited to the frantic pace of his writing. And indeed, when Iron Man catches up with the Marauder, you can't help but be curious how the villain is going to cope with this powerhouse. We've already seen how Friedrich has made an almost absurd comparison of the Marauder to Reed Richards; in fact, Richards is name-dropped again in this story, when Friedrich makes the somehat more believable comparison to Richards when describing Stark. So the capability of the Marauder in dealing with Iron Man has been established, and the point is driven home in the technology the Marauder arms his cadre of men with:

Keep your eye on Steele--the Marauder chose this thug well, and he'll give Iron Man a run for his money as this story develops, particularly in its second part.

Before the main event with the Marauder, though, Friedrich gives ample time to the thugs armed with the Marauder's weaponry. And they're actually canny and aggressive enough to score some damage:

Which paves the way for Steele to insert himself in the battle, courtesy of his own suit of armor the Marauder developed for him:

But Steele has overestimated his device's effectiveness, and Iron Man is able to counter its effects. And he's not about to give Steele a second chance at him:

Finally, the Marauder is forced to take a hand, using more powerful weaponry than Iron Man faced with his underlings:

But since we've seen both DD and Spider-Man deal pretty well with the Marauder with a sock to the jaw, we know this fight's over if Iron Man is just able to connect with an armored punch. And in fact, with his next maneuver, you'd think the Marauder is going to have a nice stay to look forward to at that Detroit hospital, under the tender care of those no-nonsense nurses:

But since this is a two-part story, and Part One is on its last page, it looks like Iron Man might be the one ending up in intensive care:

So does the Marauder do the smart thing, and finish off Iron Man then and there? Or does he do the dumb thing, and hoist Iron Man over his shoulders like a sack of potatoes and carry him back to the shuttle before making his getaway? Well, since I've already spoiled it by hinting that Steele and Iron Man square off in Part Two, you can either assume that Steele is kicking around a corpse, or that the Marauder does the dumb thing.  For a guy as smart as Reed Richards, his I.Q. leaves a lot to be desired--after all, he's also planning to wipe Detroit off the map.  Obviously he couldn't see which way the wind was blowing in that respect--why couldn't he just wait until 2013?

1 comment:

Gvieto said...

One of my favorite two part Iron Man stories since Iron Man did not think to himself "I have been blinded by the Masked Marauder but my head's buzzing like a hornet's nest."