The Revolution absolutely loved the last issue of Iron Man. I thought it was one of the best issues of Iron Man that I had ever read. Just amazing. The Knaufs’ have done a great job on this title. Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #15 kicks off the next big event in the Marvel Universe known as “The Initiative.” We also get a name change to this title as it is now Iron Man: Director of SHIELD. I’m pretty sure that Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #15 is going to be another solid read. Let’s do this review.
Writers: Daniel & Charles Knauf
Penciler: Roberto de la Torre
Inker: Jonathon Sibal
Art Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10.
Story Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10.
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10.
Synopsis: We begin with Dum Dum Dugan meeting with Secretary of Defense Jack Kooning. Dum Dum is telling Kooning that he thinks that S.H.I.E.L.D. is falling apart under Tony’s command. Kooning responds that Tony’s results appear very positive. Dum Dum says his problem isn’t with the results but with Tony’s methods. Dum Dum says that two days ago in Sydney, Australia is the perfect example.
We flashback to some Indonesian terrorists holding people hostage at the Sydney Opera House. They demand the release of thirty-four of their compatriots. Tony’s new nano-cams, the size of a skin cell, give S.H.I.E.L.D. instant images of the terrorists inside the opera house.
We cut to Iron Man on a stealth ship along with a S.H.I.E.L.D. strike force equipped with the new Stark Tactical Assault Repulsors that are non-lethal. Iron Man tells him men that the terrorists have an aerosol bomb armed with Venox compound that could kill thousands of civilians depending on the wind direction.
Iron Man and his S.H.I.E.L.D. strike force then attack the Terrorists in the Sydney Opera House. The strike force manages to neutralize all of the terrorists without a single hostage getting hurt. Unfortunately, the final terrorist to go down managed to activate the nerve gas bomb.
Iron Man grabs the bomb and flies off. Iron Man heads out to a Stark Foundation deep sea exploration vessel at the Great Barrier Reef. Iron Man throws the bomb in the ship’s decompression chamber and seals it shut. The bomb goes off harmlessly inside the decompression chamber.
We cut back to the present with Kooning telling Dugan that it sounds like Tony’s mission in Australia was a success. Dugan responds that if Tony had not been there then the mission would have failed and thousands of civilians would have died.
That Tony consistently ends up functioning in a combat capacity and his presence is undermining the autonomy of their Special Ops units. That S.H.I.E.L.D. is a military organization and must maintain the discipline of a clear chain of command. That Tony has subverted the entire command structure and is running S.H.I.E.L.D. like one of his companies.
That Tony added a suggestion box outside the cafeteria. That Tony closed the Officers’ Club and redirected its budget toward the enlisted men’s mess-hall. Tony then turned the Officers’ Club facility into a Day-Care facility. Tony replaced Cookie with his own private executive chef. Tony even instituted a casual Friday policy where uniforms are optional for support staff.
Dugan says that Tony’s Executive Officer is none other than Sal Kennedy who informed Dugan that all of Tony’s ideas are good. Even the day-care. And that the Day Care center is only open when they are in port and the kids are choppered off the vessel the minute they activate.
Kooning tells Dugan that troop morale is up, readiness is up, public approval is through the roof and that overall expenses have been cut by 19.8 million in the first fiscal quarter. All this during a period of unprecedented period of strife and terrorist activity. And that there have been seventeen code-red tactical operations in the past month and all have been successful with no casualties.
Dugan responds that there is still the issue with Maya Hansen. We cut to Maya talking with Tony. Maya wants to resume her research on the Extremis virus. Tony tells Maya that she knows the Extremis virus is too dangerous and she must give it up. Maya tells Tony that she knows he is right. Tony says that until Maya gets a Presidential pardon, that her parole is conditioned upon Tony’s supervision.
We shift back to Kooning telling Dugan that Tony’s personal life and Maya are none of their business. Kooning then asks Dugan about the increase in terrorist attacks. That the attacks have come from the Aryan Brotherhood, whacked out Christian groups and E.L.F. Kooning asks Dugan if he sees a connection.
Dugan responds that they all found themselves a “sugar daddy.” That suddenly all these groups have gotten hi-tech equipment, money and training. And that it all happened after Karim Mahwash Najeeb disappearance in China three months ago.
We cut to An Hu Po State psychiatric facility in China. We see Karim Najeeb taking a tour of the facility including the basement level where the dangerous patients are kept. Najeeb requests to see the occupant of room thirty-two.
Najeeb is informed that the patient in that room is an enigma. No one knows his name or where he comes from. That the patient neither eats nor drinks and yet is perfectly healthy. We see an old man with long hair and a beard wearing a straight jacket and sitting in a room full of candles.
We shift back to Kooning and Dugan. Dugan says that he thinks Najeeb is still a terrorist and is behind this increase in terrorist attacks across the globe. Kooning thanks Dugan for coming to talk to him and airing his complaints about Tony. But, that Kooning will not accept Dugan’s letter of resignation. That Kooning needs someone on the inside of S.H.I.E.L.D. that he can trust. End of issue.
The Good: Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #15 was another solid read. The Knaufs didn’t wow me like they did with last issue, but they didn’t have to. Iron Man #15 is an issue where the reader gets a chance to catch his breath and the writer gets a chance to pause and set the stage for the next major story arc. And that is exactly what the Knaufs did with this issue.
The Knaufs jump forward a little bit to get settled into Tony’s new job as Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. They do a nice job using Dum Dum Dugan as a literary tool to give us a general overview of how Tony is running S.H.I.E.L.D. and the changes that he has made. I really dig the idea of Tony running S.H.I.E.L.D. just like one of his companies. It only makes sense. Tony is a businessman and an entrepreneur. He is not a military person or a politician. And that is a good thing.
I have always thought how the best and brightest of America’s minds go into the corporate world. That if those people decided to go into politics that we might actually have people with brains in their heads running our country. I dig that Tony is showing how a brilliant business man can run S.H.I.E.L.D. better and more efficiently than any politician or military officer.
I like that Tony has made S.H.I.E.L.D. into a huge success and that he is going against the grain by doing things like getting rid of the Officers’ Club, catering to the enlisted man, establishing suggestion boxes, day care facilities and, yes, the dreaded casual Friday! Plus, it shows that Tony is always going to think outside of the box and that he could care less about offending military traditionalists like Dum Dum Dugan.
This move highlights both Tony’s desire to make things run smoother and more efficiently as well as his placing a priority of the needs of the common man over the privileged officers. And that shows Tony’s altruistic side that genuinely does everything out of the desire to make the world a better place.
However, it also highlights Tony’s extreme ego and lack of concern for the feelings of established military people like Dum Dum. Tony often views people who don’t share his utopian views to be knuckle draggers whose opinions should be dismissed as anachronistic and useless.
The Knaufs really impress me with their grasp of Tony’s character and what makes him tick. They are crafting such a wonderfully complex personality for Tony. The Knaufs give us a Tony who is so full of confidence and has a large ego due to his brilliance and his incredible abilities blessed upon him by the Extremis virus.
The Knaufs give us a Tony Stark with a heart of a hero and the willingness to sacrifice everything in order to save the world. However, they know that they have to give Tony a bit of an edge and make him a little unlikable at times in order to make him a completely well rounded and intriguing character.
What is also great about Tony being the director of S.H.I.E.L.D. are all the massive weapons and surveillance upgrades that S.H.I.E.L.D. is going to get. The nano-cams were pretty cool gadgets. And I liked that the strike force work helmets similar to Iron Man’s helmet and uses repulsor rifles. Not only is Tony upgrading S.H.I.E.L.D.’s tech, he is also re-making S.H.I.E.L.D. into his image.
I like that the Knaufs hinted to the reader that Kooning doesn’t totally trust Tony and that he wants Dum Dum to keep an eye on things. This relationship between Kooning and Dum Dum certainly signals an alliance that will probably come to play at some point if Kooning feels that Tony is getting too powerful. You always have to have some intrigue and mistrust whenever you are dealing with the government.
It appears that Najeeb is the new main villain in this new story arc. I’m glad to see the Knaufs further developing Najeeb’s character. The Knaufs laid the foundation for Najeeb in the last story arc. Now it is time to see what this nefarious man is actually up to. I dig the idea of Najeeb trying to organize, arm and fund previously unrelated terrorist groups in order to present a huge threat to this new incarnation of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The Knaufs also tease the reader with a new villain at the end of this issue. The mysterious old man in room thirty-two. I don’t recognize this character at all. I’m definitely curious to learn more about this character and what Najeeb has planned for him.
Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #15 was nicely paced and the dialogue was all well done. The Knaufs did a good job setting the table for the new major story arc. Tony is already in place as director of S.H.I.E.L.D. We also have our villains sliding into place. I think we are in for a pretty wild ride.
The Bad: I find Sal Kennedy annoying. To think that the Knaufs killed off the best supporting character in Happy Hogan only to give us more of this incredibly lame and stereotypical hippie in Sal Kennedy is disappointing. I’d much rather have Pepper and Happy than Sal Kennedy any day of the week. My only hope is that Sal Kennedy gets killed off at some point.
I find the idea that a military agency like S.H.I.E.L.D. that conducts all the black ops in the Marvel Universe using non-lethal force to be a bit of a joke. C’mon, this is the premier black ops agency in the world. When they swoop in to take out terrorists, they are using bullets not stun rays.
Roberto de la Torre and Jonathan Sibal are talented artists. However, Iron Man is most definitely not the right title for them. Their style of art is an extremely poor match for Iron Man. Their style is too sketchy and rough and lacks any detail. Iron Man is the kind of title that demands art that has smooth lines and tons of detail. Artists like Van Sciver, Reis or McNiven would do great on the tech heavy Iron Man title. Torre and Sibal are better suited for titles like Iron Fist, Daredevil, X-Factor and titles like those.
Overall: Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #15 was a good read. This is the prefect time for new readers to jump aboard this title. The Knaufs have done a good job making this fresh start for Iron Man very new reader friendly. I’m excited with the potential of “The Initiative” and am looking forward to whatever the Knaufs have in store for us.