Thursday, November 13, 2014

Scanned Thoughts: Superior Iron Man #1

We have a very schizophrenic attitude when it comes to dealing with narcissistic douche-bags. They exhibit all the qualities we’re taught to avoid as kids. They’re selfish, they’re greedy, they’re egotistical, and they see other people as glorified meat bags. Yet for some reason, we make these people are representatives in Congress and give them their own reality show. Sure, it sometimes helps if they look sexy or have fucktons of money, but the fact we still pay attention gives them plenty of incentive to keep doing what they’re doing. In a ways, we’re partially to blame for their continued douche-baggery. But from a strictly evolutionary standpoint, this kind of narcissism does have its place. In order for someone to feed their egos and be loved to the point where they can masturbate to thoughts of how awesome they are, they kind of have to do stuff for other people. Game of Thrones has shown time and again that just being a dick is a pretty quick way to get eaten by a dragon or disemboweled at a wedding.

Tony Stark must be a Game of Thrones fan because he realized this during the events of Avengers and X-men: AXIS. Having already taken a big steaming dump on his credibility, he’s struck out on his own to try a different approach to being Iron Man. It may or may not be a result of the “inversion” spell that was cast in the battle against the Red Skull, but it has inspired Iron Man to channel his inner Steve Jobs. Now he’s prepared to turn San Francisco into his own personal Apple Store dedicated to showing how awesome he is, complete with fucked up user agreements. Superior Iron Man #1 is the grand opening of this store. He’s already given the people of San Francisco a reason to kiss his ass with imported lipstick. Now he’s going to make them eager to suck his dick on demand.

He’s already several steps ahead of the game if that’s his goal. He’s already released the Extemis 3.0 app, as revealed in the pages of Avengers and X-men: AXIS. He delivered his message to San Francisco and they’ve now elevated him to a level second only to Madison Bumgarner. Everybody can now make themselves as sexy as Jennifer Lawrence and as healthy as an Olympic athlete (minus the steroids and doping) with a simple smartphone app. I admit if someone gave me a product like that for free, I’d gladly lick dog shit off their shoes. And anybody who claims otherwise is dirty, rotten liar. So I’d say Iron Man has done more than enough to enjoy a victory lap and savor all the love and adulation from the people of San Francisco. And he didn’t even have to use a giant gun to succeed this time. That alone is a step towards superiority.

That victory lap is all well and good, but superiority alone doesn’t make Iron Man or San Francisco immune to the occasional shit storm. A week after Iron Man takes his victory lap, some D-list villain calling himself Teen Abomination decides to drop in and fuck up all the good times. And yes, his name really is Teen Abomination. I guess gamma radiation doesn’t increase creativity as much as it does strength. She-Hulk is there to get the fight going. Iron Man shows up just in time to make fun of his name and to see She-Hulk get decked. For whatever reason, villains these days are very sensitive about their shitty names. Go figure. But Teen Abomination really isn’t presented as some daunting threat. He’s just some generic, run-of-the-mill threat that’s supposed to make Iron Man take a break from jerking off his ego. It’s more an inconvenience than a struggle.

The battle unfolds fairly predictably. Teen Abomination snarls and whines as one might expect of completely bland villain. Then, he manages to get in a lucky blow that knocks Iron Man’s head off. And no, that’s not a colorful drunken metaphor. And yes, I say as casually as I would order Chinese Food. That’s because knocking Iron Man’s head off in this battle is about as consequential as messing up Donald Trump’s hair. It turns out Tony Stark isn’t even in this particular Iron Man armor. He’s operating it remotely because why should he be there to get roughed up by a badly named villain? He’s Tony fucking Stark. He works smart, not hard. That’s not just heroic. That’s downright American.

And it’s because Tony Stark isn’t there (or maybe in spite of it) that he finishes off Teen Abomination in as rough a way he can. It’s not exactly epic and it’s probably the fasted any gamma-powered villain has gone down in the history of Marvel, but it’s not intended to be a big part of the story. It’s just a way of showing how much more efficient Iron Man has gotten at being Iron Man. When he can beat up a gamma powered threat without even being there, then that’s a clear sign of superiority.

There’s also another sign of superiority and that’s being able to remotely operate an Iron Man suit from a pool surrounded by sexy men and women while sipping cocktails. And once again, Tony Stark finds a way to stay ahead of the curve because that’s exactly what he was doing while taking down Teen Abomination. It’s probably something he could’ve done before becoming “superior.” Hell, it’s probably something he did every now and then just for shits and giggles. But now, with all these beautiful people who owe him for their beauty, he has even more reasons to enjoy himself. He even boasts how he took Teen Abomination down between an orgy in a spa and a cocktail. What kind of hero multi-tasks like that? The awesome kind, that’s who.

Tony Stark has every reason to keep partying while being Iron Man in between drinks. But like any awesome party, there’s always going to be someone to come along and be a total buzzkill. Pepper Potts decides to take on that role because I guess being played by Gweneth Paltrow rubbed off on her. Playing the part of Tony Stark’s brain that isn’t easily distracted by breasts, booze, and butts she often has to be Iron Man’s gatekeeper. And while I’m sure she’s had to clean up plenty of orgies and puke stains over the years, she’s never had to confront something like this.

Pepper only briefly touches on the fact that Tony is drinking again before busting his balls about his new venture in San Francisco. It’s not like he doesn’t give her a reason to be concerned. He even reveals that he’s created a new Iron Man suit out of a fucking symbiote and Odin knows no good has ever come from mixing it up with a symbiote. I’m sure Spider-Man would shit himself if he heard about this. But Pepper is more concerned about the fact that Extremis 3.0 has turned San Francisco into a giant orgy of drunkenness, irresponsibility, and excess. That’s kind of what happens when everybody is suddenly beautiful, healthy, and flushed with a sense of superiority. I’m not entirely sure how that’s any different than most uber-liberal cities, but there is some merit to Pepper’s outrage.

And by some, I mean barely any. She whines about how not everybody has access to Extremis 3.0, but I get the sense she would yell at him just as much if she gave it to everybody. Isn’t it prudent to restrict access to a new product to a select group of people? She says there are other possible consequences and she’s probably right. But she’s pointing out all the wrong consequences. Seriously, how does Tony Stark expect a city to function where everyone is beautiful and sexy? How would they ever stop humping and drinking long enough to get any shit done? This would’ve been a much more reasonable argument to make, but she chose not to and that just amplifies her role as a total buzzkill.

That doesn’t mean that some of those consequences haven’t played out. In a city where the vast majority of the people are beautiful, healthy, and superior that means those who aren’t just become easier targets. This is nicely demonstrated in the hippie parts of San Francisco where five yuppie-type asshole decide to gang up on a homeless woman. Because as it turns out, when any group of people are given superiority, they like to exercise it by being total assholes. Not saying it’s right or anything. I’m just saying it’s human nature. These people see ugly ass girls like this the same way most of us see pimples. They want to get rid of it and they don’t care how messy it is. I guess it’s just easier to pop pimples.

This naturally attracts the attention of Daredevil, who recently set up shop in San Francisco. He doesn’t take kindly to angry mobs of beautiful people ganging up on homeless girls. I guess that’s easier for him when he doesn’t look like he slept in a dumpster. He’s eager to do his usual routine, throwing his sticks around and making assholes uncomfortable. And no, that wasn’t a gay joke. I’m trying to resist those jokes now that this story is taking place in San Francisco.

However, the fight here ends before anyone can throw too many punches. Before Daredevil can give these people a lecture on why being beautiful doesn’t give them an excuse to be assholes (unless their name is Tom Cruise), they start having a bad reaction. It’s not clear what it is at first, but they start writhing like I did during my last colonoscopy. Daredevil can’t be that intimidating. Hell, he can’t even be the oddest dressed guy in San Francisco. Anyone who has ever been to the Castro District knows that.

Their sudden discomfort has an easy explanation that takes Tony Stark beyond being a superior asshole and into a realm once reserved for Steve Jobs. Everybody who was enjoying the fruits of Extremis 3.0 is suddenly losing its effects. They’re becoming their ugly, inept former selves again. And it’s not because the app is malfunctioning. In fact, the app is working just as it’s supposed to work in that it reveals Tony Stark’s bold offer wasn’t exactly free out of the goodness of his heart. Like Candy Crush, people have to pay to keep using it and he has the audacity to charge $99.99 a day for that privilege. It’s wholly unreasonable, but Tony Stark reminds everyone that he’s a businessman. Giving shit away for free would just defeat the purpose.

It is a huge dick move. He gave everybody a taste of perfection. They all got to experience just how awesome it is. It would be like us ordinary folk getting to live like Bill Gates for a day. When it’s over and we go back to our shitty apartments, it doesn’t feel very good. This is a hundred steps beyond that. At the same time, it’s not downright evil. He gave everybody something they all wanted on some levels. It’s basic human nature to want to be beautiful and healthy. Now he’s just charging for it. How is that any different than make-up companies charging obscene amounts of money for their products? The only difference here is that Iron Man’s product works way fucking better.

At this point, Pepper has seen enough. Again, it’s probably easy when she still looks sexy as hell in a business suit. But she sees what’s happening with Tony Stark and she doesn’t like it. She thinks he’s either being mind-controlled or he’s let his alcoholism kick his ass again. Either way, she wants to stop him. So to do that she enlists the help of someone who has somehow taken over one of Iron Man’s older models. Given how Tony Stark just beat up a gamma-powered villain while sipping cocktails from a pool, I have a hard time believing that this will make much of a difference. But it’ll at least give Tony Stark an obstacle so he can’t spend all day jerking off his ego and getting drunk.

Before this series, I don’t think anybody would argue that Tony Stark was an asshole to some degree. He’s just a lot better than most superheroes at channeling his inner douche-baggery into being a competent hero. We common folk love to shit all over the super-rich and the super beautiful, ignoring most of the time that these super-rich assholes are a big reason why we have many of the comforts we enjoy. But what Tony Stark did here is raise the bar for super-rich, superhero douche-baggery to an unprecedented level. Most importantly, he was made himself look awesome doing it.

What Iron Man is doing here is not a total dick move. Iron Man is only a dick in the same sense that Steve Jobs and Bill Gates are dicks for charging so much money for shit we really want that makes us really happy. This is capitalism in the purest Ayan Rand tradition, but Tony Stark takes it to a level that would probably soak her panties. He’s not just saving people from assholes like Teen Abomination. He’s giving the people he’s saving something they want. And now it’s something they can’t live without. And as shitty a price he’s charging, I’d say it’s still not nearly as bad as the price Apple charges to upgrade their iPhones. It’s a bold new world and Tony Stark is the ultimate pimp in a city he’s turned into whores, both literally and figuratively. Dick move or not, it’s still way more than any Avenger has dared to do and that makes Iron Man awesome again. Superior Iron Man #1 gets a 9 out of 10. Now someone just has to keep Tony Stark away from giant guns so that he doesn’t fuck everything up like he did with the Phoenix Force. Nuff said!


  1. This has an intriguing start. Tony develops a new symbiote-based armor and tries to sell Extremis as a common-variety supermarket product.

    That last part has had some unfortunate consequences, as Pepper has pointed out (and that poor helpless woman has seen). And who knows how desperate people will be to get their hands on Extremis through means other than buying it? It's likely a lit fuse...

    It'd be interesting to see Daredevil's view on this. It could be a way to cure his sight. That's something for the next issue.

    Anyway, it's interesting and continues to get interesting.

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