Comic Book Review: Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #16

The Revolution has absolutely loved the Knaufs’ run on Iron Man. They have managed to make this title a great read. And it has been a long time since Iron Man was anything interesting to read. There is no doubt in my mind that the Knaufs are going to serve up another great issue in Iron Man #16. It doesn’t appear that this issue deals with Captain America’s death. However, we should get insight into how Tony is acclimating to being the new Director of SHIELD. Let’s do this review for Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #16.

Creative Team
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 inquiring where Tony Stark is. That he is supposed to be present for the upcoming ceremony. We shift to the lab aboard the Helicarrier where Maya and Tony are busy performing an autopsy on the body of a dead terrorist.

The terrorist has a gun that is connected to his nervous system via a cord of cultured stem cells. Also, the gun was siphoning electrical impulses directly form his limbic system. It is the perfect blend of technology and biology.

A brain scan reveals a mass in the terrorist’s skull. They cut open the skull and pull out the mass. A SHIELD soldier enters the lab and tells Tony that Dum Dum is asking for him to come to the helipad. Tony says that he will be there in a minute. Tony is too interested in the autopsy to leave just yet.

Maya cuts open the mass and finds a bio-hard-drive inside it that was tapped into the terrorists optic nerve. They activate the hard-drive and get video of what the terrorist saw. They see the takeover of the corporate yacht that the terrorists seized hostage.

We then cut to 48 hours ago. A corporate yacht for Gianni Glitz and the majority shareholders were having a party. Suddenly, the terrorists take over the yacht. The terrorists are called Cat’s-Paw and are anima rights crazies. The terrorist from the autopsy says that Gianni’s facilities test on animals and that they will all pay for their crimes against animals.

Suddenly, Iron Man’s armored SHIELD troops arrive and take on the terrorists. Iron Man notes that six months ago Cat’s-Paw was a pathetic group of nuts who could barely mix a decent Molotov cocktail. Now they show up armed with weaponized biotech and first-rate training. The SHIELD soldiers of Team Alpha were in over their heads so Iron Man steps in and kicks ass on the terrorists.

We cut back to the present with Maya commenting that it is a good thing that none of the hostages got injured. Tony is irritated that his new job is like playing whack-a-mole. They take out one terrorist group and more terrorist groups suddenly pop up all armed and well funded. That they have had over forty incidents in the last month alone.

Sal enters the lab and asks if Tony is coming up to the ceremony. Tony says he is busy at the moment. Suddenly, the video from the terrorist’s hard drive shows a helicopter on the video screen. Tony tells Maya to see if she can make out the tail numbers to the helicopter.

Sal tells Tony that he can’t blow off this ceremony. Tony snaps at Sal that he isn’t blowing it off. Maya then tells Tony that they have visuals of the person flying the helicopter for the terrorists. It is Darius Faraz who works for C.M. Security Consultants who is owned by Karim Mahwash Najeeb.

We cut to Najeeb along with Faraz and some other thugs in the An Hu Po State Psychiatric Facility in China. Najeeb thanks the Chinese doctor for giving him the tour and promptly shoots the Chinese doctor in the head.

Najeeb then introduces himself to the old man who is in the straight jacket and chained to the floor. Najeeb calls the old man “Master Khan.” Najeeb opens a box with ten rings in it and says that in return for giving Khan his rings back, that Khan shall lend Najeeb his services in destroying a common enemy.

The old man doesn’t say a word. Najeeb screams at Khan for him to answer him. Najeeb screams that the old man is the Mandarin. The old man says nothing. Najeeb comments it appears they have wasted their time. Najeeb tells Darius Faraz to put a bullet in the old man’s head.

Suddenly, the old man’s eyes glow and the chains rip from the floor. The chains fly around and kill everyone except Najeeb and Faraz. Najeeb orders Faraz to shoot the old man now.

Faraz turns around and shoots Najeeb in the head killing him. Faraz then offers to serve the Mandarin and hands him the box with the ten rings. The Mandarin says that Faraz chose well.

We cut back to the Helicarrier where Tony tells Maya that if Najeeb is behind all of the recent terrorist activity that Najeeb would have to be working for someone. Tony has no idea who that someone could be.

Dum Dum then enters the lab and requests a word with Tony. Tony and Dum Dum talk while Tony gets into his full dress uniform. Dum Dum tells Tony that this ceremony is more important than what Tony was doing in the lab. Tony stares at a mirror and says he never had to deal with anything like this. Tony then punches the mirror into pieces and cuts his fist.

Dum Dum requests permission to speak freely. Tony grants it. Dum Dum comments how Tony has run SHIELD like one of his corporations. And that Tony has proven that running a corporation is similar to running a military operation with one key exception. In a corporation men don’t die under his command.

Dum Dum says that soldiers know two things. One of them is how to fight. The other is to obey their superiors. All they can do is pray their orders serve some good and that they make the world a better place.

As commanding officer, Tony has to make life and death decisions. And when he does he must ask himself one very important question. Did his decisions today make a better world for tomorrow?

Tony answers yes his decision did make the world a better place. Tony then asks Dum Dum what he should say at the ceremony. Dum Dum responds that Tony will think of something.

We cut to Tony at a funeral ceremony in front of the family members of the three SHIELD soldiers from Alpha Team that were killed during the conflict with Cat’s-Paw. Tony says that no words he can say will do justice to the sacrifice these men made.

Tony says he has had the distinct honor of fighting alongside hundreds of super heroes in his life, but very few heroes. That these men of Team Alpha, sons, brothers, husbands and fathers were heroes. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: The Knaufs keep impressing me with this work on this title. Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #16 was another strong read. The Knaufs deliver a well plotted issue. I always like starting a story in medias res and then going back and filling the reader in on what happened.

Iron Man #16 also moved along at a nice pace. The Knaufs blend plenty of action in with dialogue heavy scenes to produce a nice flow to this issue. The pace of this issue certainly isn’t fast. It is a nice measured pace that allows the emotional scenes to have more impact on the reader.

I dig how the Knaufs are letting the various plotlines unfold naturally. Nothing is forced or rushed and each plotline seems to grow organically out of the proceeding plotline. This shows that the Knaufs have a long term vision for this title and patiently wait to feed new plotlines to the reader.

I like how the Najeeb plotline has lead us to the discovery of the Mandarin. This was the big bomb of this issue. Iron Man’s arch nemesis is alive! There are few Iron Man villains that rival the stature of the Mandarin. I am psyched to see the return of the Mandarin. He is a fantastic character with a wonderfully long history with Iron Man.

I was bummed back when the Mandarin was killed off and always thought it was a mistake to kill off an arch nemesis like him. Now that Mandarin is back I am confident that we are in store for one hell of a story. This is going to be huge. And no doubt that the Mandarin is the last thing Tony Stark wants to deal with right now. I’m excited to see what the Knaufs have planned for the Mandarin.

I like the plotline with the rampant terrorist splinter groups that are popping up all over the globe. It provides for plenty of action scenes and also demonstrates how difficult life is as the Director of SHIELD.

Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #16 was a nice character study of Tony Stark continuing to adjust to his new role as Director of SHIELD. The Knaufs have done a great job getting inside Tony’s mind and giving the reader a nice glimpse of the difficult adjustment and sacrifice that Tony is making.

The Knaufs do a nice job writing Dum Dum’s character and the scene between Dum Dum and Tony was incredibly well done. Tony is a man of capitalism and industry. Tony has approached running SHIELD just like one of his corporations. And that makes perfect sense. And there is no doubt that Tony has been successful in this approach.

However, the fact that Tony is now running an organization where people die because of his decisions is something that Tony just hasn’t come to terms with. And it never hits home harder than when the first SHIELD soldiers die because of Tony’s decisions.

Dum Dum’s speech to Tony was great. And it shows that Tony has the character, integrity and internal strength to make decisions that make the world a better place and that as long as that is the case then the death of his soldiers is not something he should beat himself up about.

This scene shows how intense Tony is. That Tony hates to fail. He hates to lose. That Tony is going to have a tough time living with the fact that his decisions will inevitably lead to the loss of life. However, that is the nature of the beast when running a military organization. And this is something that the Knaufs are going to use to further grow Tony’s character.

The Knaufs have an excellent feel for Tony’s character. I have been so impressed with how they have written him and fleshed out his personality. The Knaufs’ version of Tony Stark is one of the best ones I have ever read. It makes it even more enjoyable considering how one-dimensional Tony is written on other Marvel titles.

Much of the excellent character work on Iron Man has been due to the Knaufs strong dialogue that they craft for every issue. Each character has the proper external voice and they all have their own personalities. The Knaufs spend the necessary time growing each character so that they take on a life of their own. It is a pleasure to read a comic book where plenty of attention is devoted to character development.

The ending to Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #16 was powerful. It wasn’t a hook ending. Just a strong and emotional ending. Tony’s speech about the fallen men from Team Alpha was right on. It shows that wearing a costume or having super powers doesn’t automatically make you a hero. That the soldiers who fight and die for their country are true heroes.

The Bad: This isn’t really a negative. I was surprised to see the foreign flags placed on the three coffins of the fallen soldiers from Team Alpha. Shouldn’t the flags have all been American flags? I was under the impression that SHIELD was an American military organization and not a multi-national military organization.

I’m still not that crazy about the artwork. Roberto de la Torre isn’t a bad artist. It is just that his artwork is completely wrong for this type of title. A tech heavy title like Iron Man needs an artist who has a more of a slick, smooth and detail oriented style. Torre’s artwork is way too sketchy and rough and lacks detail. Artwork.

Having said that, I must compliment Torre for one great looking splash shot of Iron Man in this issue.

Overall: Iron Man: Director of SHIELD #16 was another great read. The Knaufs continue to impress with their work on this title. Iron Man has not been this good of a read in a very long time. The Knaufs bring more attention to character development than most comic books on the market. I definitely would recommend giving this title a try.

2 Comments

  1. The offical line is that Shield is a U.N. organization. Granted, that doesn’t make sense to anyone with half a brain…

  2. Shield apparently can act on behalf of any nation requesting it’s services, so it enforcing American law on superhumans, where regular law enforcement can’t, isn’t too odd.

    What’s odd is that Shield is treated as a spy agency more often than not, and as such, cannot work for the UN. Who would they be spying for, pray tell?

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