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Mel’s Muses: Iron Man #14, Green Arrow #23, Uncanny #1 and #2

As we head closer to our very own Singapore Toy Game and Comic Convention (STGCC) coming our way at the end of August, it’s time to slip into full geek mode. And what better way than some short musings on the latest comic book shipment. This week we look at a couple of billionaire playboys turned superheroes from the Big Two, who also just happen to have their familiar origins turned upside down by their current creative teams. As always, look out for spoilers ahead!

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Iron Man #14. First the new twist to Tony Stark’s origin. We are all familiar with the injured heart and how Stark built his first crude Iron Man armor in the terrorists’ cave etc. well, here’s what writer Kieron Gillen and artist Greg Land brought to the table.

In the current Secret Origin of Tony Stark storyline, we learn that the alien Rigellian Recorder 451 had Tony genetically engineered since birth so that as an adult he would be able operate a gigantic mechanical armor called the Godkiller and be like the vanguard of a whole new human galactic empire. It also explains why and how Stark was always able to come up with various tech inventions and Iron Man suits. It’s in his genes all this time!

So right now Stark, Recorder 451 and the alien bounty hunter Death’s Head are in space and inside the Godkiller armor which is actually as big as a skyscraper. It’s a fun read. At first, I wasn’t all that thrilled about this new element to the Iron Man mythos. Seeing Stark’s parents fight alien mobsters in Las Vegas (really) in the earlier issues was just a little too much for me. Now that the story and action has shifted to outer space and away from the slightly over the top Vegas flashback, it’s rather enjoyable in a straightforward, old-fashioned superhero kinda way.

Like I said, it’s a fun ride and since the whole plot about Stark out in space started from Iron Man issue #6, I suggest getting the earlier trades before this.

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Green Arrow #23. Just as Gillen has added a whole new backstory about Stark’s dad blasting bad guys or aliens in Iron Man’s new origin, writer Jeff Lemire has done the same here with Oliver Queen aka Green Arrow.

Turns out that Oliver Queen’s father belonged to an ancient society of archers and the Green Arrow is really some legendary relic. Whoever possesses it, “possesses true enlightenment. Immortality even.” After Lemire took over the title from issue #17, I’m really enjoying this ride. It’s definitely a major improvement from the first 16 issues. He has added a ton of new elements to the Emerald Archer’s origin, some I like while others, I’m still not so sure.

In this latest issue, we meet the New 52 version of Shado while Queen who has recently lost his entire fortune now finds out he has a little stepsister, Count Vertigo gets to use some new funky powers and of cos lotsa people end up with arrows through them. We also got a glimpse of the New 52 version of martial artist superhero Richard Dragon who is a sight for sore eyes for old timers like me. My only gripe is that it appears that we are seeing a nasty trend of turning pre-New 52 good guys into current bad guys, like Mister E in the new Constantine series. I don’t like that.

The art by Italian artist Andrea Sorrentino is simply superb. I have gushed about his work in I, Vampire and it’s great to see his unique style back in the spotlight. A little dark and moody but it suits the story. His layouts and individual panels are also just amazing as they tend capture your gaze for more than a few seconds even after you have finished the dialogue. You’ll really just wanna admire his work here.

Like Iron Man, I would recommend waiting for the trades too or look for issue #17 onwards. There are a lot of things going on here and it looks like the story continues in Count Vertigo’s very own issue #1 before returning here in two months. Sad to say, as far as I’m concerned there aren’t many good titles coming out of DC Comics right now but this is one of the better ones so don’t miss it.

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Uncanny #1 and #2. Hey, a big shout out to Andy Diggle’s Uncanny #1 and #2 with art by Aaron Campbell. It’s called “Season of Hungry Ghosts” and what better time to take a quick look than right now at the start of this year’s Hungry Ghost Festival.

This was the story that Diggle said he was thinking about when he was here for last year’s STGCC during the Hungry Ghost Festival. It’s a super-powered crime story but without the spandex. The story centres on Weaver, a con man who has the ability to borrow a person’s skills and memories for a limited time. Things take a wrong turn after he tries to con the wrong mobster at the very familiar Marina Bay Sands casino. There’s no shortage of action or intrigue here, and the pacing is fast and good. We slowly get to see Weaver evolve as the plot advances and that’s good enough to make me come back for more.

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But don’t expect any ghosts to show up despite what the title says as Diggle explains to Comic Book Resources, “The gates of Hell open up and the spirits of the dead are free to prowl the Earth. People leave offerings of money and food outside their doors to keep the ghosts off their backs. But it’s all fake — toy money, cardboard gold. I thought that was a pretty good metaphor for Weaver’s sham lifestyle.”

Which kinda got me thinking, what if Diggle visited our island during the Mooncake Festival? I think the traditional mooncake could be an excellent metaphor for a sham, the outside is yummy sweet until you bite on that salted egg in the middle. For the newbie, it’s like WTF?!? I can call that a sham too!!!

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Melvin Yong has worked way too long in the media and advertising industry. He now spends his time with his family, writing short horror stories and playing lots of board games.

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