Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Misc. Comics Graded

[Continued from last November as, sadly, I have turned up a lot more mildewed comics in my collection. These are eulogies for the comics already tossed out.]

Many Ghosts of Doctor Graves #18 ("Half of Everything", Feb. 1970). Grade: B-. Ditko leads the pack in three stories about Graves, an occult expert who either narrates ghost stories or investigates them personally. Only "Night of the Poltergeists" (the one where Graves is a main character) is much different from Marvel's ghost stories from the '50s.
Scooby Doo...Where Are You? #13 ("The Miniature Haunt", 1972). Grade: B. A mystery that's a lot different from the show, with Scooby thinking in thought balloons and the bad guy pulling a gun on the kids in the end. Growing up, I enjoyed more the back-up feature, "Batty and the Green Grumble," about a bat and a green bee that try to commit crimes against humans, but wind up doing good deeds instead.
Marvel Super-Heroes Featuring the Hulk and Sub-Mariner #36 ("The Stage Is Set", May 1973). Grade: B. Kirby's layouts are virtually invisible under Everett's sub-par art, but it's really just impossible to take the Boomerang's first costume seriously. Much better is the Sub-Mariner's feature. Only the Sub-Mariner can rant and rage for 10 pages and stay interesting (Colan's art helps) -- especially when he thinks Dorma has left him to marry Krang.
Monsters on the Prowl #27 ("SSerpo! The Creature Who Crushed the Earth", Nov. 1973). Grade: B. Great Jack Kirby monster art, plus a back-up feature about an alien who plans to take over the world through singing, which actually reads less silly than it sounds.
Daffy Duck #94 ("Inferior Decorator", June 1975). Grade: C-. Daffy thinks the police are after him, so he moves in with the burglar who really robbed a store. Not bad, but the back-up features about an Arabian Nights parody and Daffy trying to make Elmer Fudd think he's crazy are very weak.
Invincible Iron Man #75 ("Slave to the Power Imperious", June 1975). Grade: C+. A story with this many supervillains -- the Mad Thinker, Modok, Yellow Claw, and newbies Black Lama and Firebrand -- should be better than this. But there are things in this story that just don't make sense, Modok is treated like an idiot, and guest-artist Jones turns in some of the absolute worst artwork I've ever seen in a comic book.
Invincible Iron Man #93 ("Kraken Kills", Dec. 1976). Grade: B+. Herb Trimpe's art only looks good with a great inker, and he's got one here in Jack Abel. Gerry Conway has given Tony some new supporting cast members, Mr. Klein and Chrissy, who just don't cut it. More interesting is Commander Kraken, a third-rate villain who had previously fought the Sub-Mariner and the Cat, but has been given an upgrade here. Kirby cover here and on the next issue!
Invincible Iron Man #94 ("Frenzy at Fifty Fathoms", Jan. 1977). Grade: C. Conway reached too far, trying to turn Kraken into an arch-nemesis for Tony. Kraken figuring out Tony's secret ID when so many others couldn't is just plain silly, as is much of the rest of the plot here about Kraken arming a mind-controlled army.
Invincible Iron Man #129 ("Dread Night of the Dreadnought", Dec. 1979). Grade: A-. The real plot development is Tony out-maneuvering SHIELD's attempt to buy out his company, but it makes Nick Fury look like a bad guy. And there's a big build-up to a fight between Iron Man and a Dreadnought robot, but the fight is over pretty fast. Sal Buscema's layouts are thankfully almost unrecognizable under the hands of some strong (and unidentified) inkers. All of the supporting cast is already in place for Micheline's stellar stint on Iron Man.
Avengers #137 ("We Do Seek Out New Avengers", July 1975). Grade: B-. Moondragon and the Beast join the team, courtesy of Englehart, and get some good Tuska/Colleta art before the Stranger attacks. Almost unforgivable is that the Stranger's floating mines are powerful enough to knock out Thor, but do no visible damage to the Wasp? Off the Wasp goes to the hospital again...
Avengers #138 "Stranger in a Strange Man", Aug. 1975). Grade: A-. The Stranger's secret is a shocker, and everyone gets a chance to help defeat who he really is -- the Toad! This was my favorite comic book for a couple of years, growing up.
Avengers #139 ("Prescription: Violence", Sept. 1975). Grade: B. After years, Englehart finally wraps up a Thomas sub-plot about how the Whirlwind has been hiding out as Hank and Jan's chaffeur this whole time. Hank is treated like he is annoying, but Moondragon is the character who's already annoying.
Mighty Thor Starring in Marvel Spectacular #16 ("Abandoned on Earth", Aug. 1975). Grade: A-. I for one like Colleta's inks on top of Kirby's pencils. The Enchanters are defeated and, embarrassingly for them (and humorously for us), turned over to the NYPD. But Odin, bad parent that he is, has a hissy fit about Thor wanting to stay on Earth and strips him of his godly powers. A weaker, bt still power Thor just happens to run in to the Circus of Crime (do they ever stay in jail?). The "Tales of Asgard" back-up feature is always a treat, especially when Volstagg is around.
Incredible Hulk #190 ("The Man Who Came Down a Rainbow", Aug. 1975). Grade: A+. Absolutely beautiful artwork by Marie Severin makes you wish she had done a lot more superhero comics! Glorian, apprentice to the Shaper of Worlds, offers the Hulk his own personal paradise, until the Toad Men show up to take him away.
Incredible Hulk #191 ("Triumph of the Toad", Sept. 1975). Grade: C+. What a difference trading Severin for Staton made! The same characters that looked fantastic last issue look silly now, particularly the Toad Men (some of whom have hair? Wha?). The Shaper of Worlds is now so dense he doesn't notice the big bomb strapped to the Hulk's back? The only highlight is the last page, with the Toad King begging the Shaper for his dreams, while the Hulk rejects them for reality.
Incredible Hulk #212 ("Crushed by...the Constrictor", June 1977). Grade: C+. The Constrictor is really not up to the task of challenging the Hulk, and having a street-level assassin talk like, "Never before have I been thwarted thus," doesn't make him any better. There's a SHIELD-related sub-plot that goes nowhere. Betty Ross is sexed up to see if that generates more reader interest in her, but the real sub-plot of interest here is Bruce's landlady, April Sommers, a pretty woman and potential love interest who is curious about Bruce's secret past, but chooses not to press him on it.
Incredible Hulk #217 ("Circus of Lost Souls", Nov. 1977). Grade: A. It's amazing how many ways you can use the Circus of Crime without getting sick of them. This is a touching story of the circus freaks who escape from the Circus of Crime and the Hulk's efforts to return one of them (a what? A sea witch? An Atlantean? The story isn't clear) to the ocean before it's too late.
Incredible Hulk #228 ("Bad Moon on the Rise", Oct. 1978). Grade: B+. The theme is psychologically manipulating the Hulk, both for good intentions and bad. Moonstone (more powerful in her debut here than she would ever be later) would have made a good foil for Doc Sampson, if he had ever rated having an arch-nemesis.
Incredible Hulk #236 ("Kill or Be Killed", June 1979). Grade: A-. Stern pulls out all the stops in giving Machine Man a fighting chance against the Hulk, but the lackluster artwork of Sal Buscema is the main hindrance here.
Spidey Super Stories #12 ("The Law of the Claw", Sept. 1975). Grade: B+. There's a fairly satisfying team-up between Spidey and the Cat vs. the Owl, an amusing story with a villain called the Tickler, and a too-long story about Spidey trying to beat a biker gang on a treasure hunt.
Spidey Super Stories #19 ("Deadly Is the Doctor Called Doom", Oct. 1976). Grade: C+. The Dr. Doom story is just silly. The re-telling of Spidey's battle with the Silver Surfer from SS's own comic book is at least as good as the original (sadly), but the best story is the least ambitious back-up, with a mysterious Prankster in school.
Marvel Double Feature Featuring Captain America and Iron Man #13 ("Back from the Dead", Dec. 1975). Grade: B. The Red Skull has Cap trapped again and taunts him by making him fight robots in an arena, including one that looks like Bucky. Pretty good, though it's hard to believe a robot would have fooled Cap so long. Not as good is the Iron Man story where he and SHIELD agent/nerdy accountant Jasper Sitwell team-up against the Grey Gargoyle. GG is not a good match for Iron Man; even though GG's power is supposedly science-based, turning people to stone with his touch is more like magic, particularly here where GG impossibly turns Tony's repulsor rays to stone.
Howard the Duck #1 ("Howard the Barbarian", January 1976). Grade: A. Imaginative, Conan-esque fantasy parody. The inclusion of Spider-Man somehow works (probably because, by 1976, he'd already teamed up with everyone else!) and cements Howard's place in the Marvel universe. Howard's suicidal tendencies, following his origin, may be believable, but less forgivable is how quickly the manslaughter he commits in self-defense is written off.
Howard the Duck #2 ("Cry Turnip", March 1976). Grade: B+. There is a complex message here, but I don't approve of it -- Gerber and guest-author Starlin mock the superhero genre by having an artist who believes in heroes tortured into not believing in them anymore by a mind-controlling turnip from outer space. Could have been a lot funnier if it was not so dark.
Howard the Duck #3 ("Four Feathers of Death", May 1976). Grade: A. Pretty dated parody of the Kung Fu craze and, more specificaly, Marvel's own character Shang-Chi. Not hilarious, but still a satisfying story.
Howard the Duck #4 ("The Sleep...of the Just", July 1976). Grade: A+. More a character study of a frustrated artist, Gerber really gets into the story of Paul Sane, the sleepwalking vigilante Winky-Man. Worth reading for the line, "Something winky this way comes" alone.

Friday, July 25, 2008

Reading the 20th Century Project

[Back in 2005 I started an ambitious, perhaps impossible project to read an incrementally larger representation of 20th century literature by year, i.e., 1 book from 1901, 2 books from 1902, etc. Within a year I was sidetracked to other reading projects, like re-reading Lewis and catching up on the Tolkein I hadn’t read yet, but it is a project worth going back to.]

1. First Men in the Moon, H. Wells.
2. Hound of the Baskervilles, A. Doyle
3. Five Children and It, E. Nesbit
4. Call of the Wild, J. London
5. The Return of Sherlock Holmes (1st half published), A. Doyle
6. Stella Fregellius, H. Haggard
7. Masters of the World, J. Verne
8. The Return of Sherlock Holmes (2nd half published, A. Doyle
9. Peter Pan, J. Barrie
10. The Marvelous Land of Oz, F. Baum
11. White Fang, J. London
12. Gulliver of Mars, E. Arnold
13. Ayesha: the Return of She, H. Haggard
14. The Scarlet Pimpernel, B. Orczy
15. The Gods of Pegana, L. Dunsany
16. Not George Washington, P. Wodehouse
17. The Four Million, O. Henry
18.  An Anglo-American Alliance, by Gregory Casparian

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Dagklar Greysteel's Journal - pt. 2

We have returned to the tower on a scouting mission, and two of our new hirelings were struck by lightning and killed. Grugenor says it is Izeldur's doing, and I can only hope he is wrong.

We have left the tower and found Izeldur is not just an empty threat. Autumn Grove has fallen and its citizens have been cursed into undeath. Leaf Olmsford fled, Canon Von Shaffer is dead, and Vittrous Merrick is beseiged in the tower. All this we learned in Holm when we spoke with Kalfax, the Governor/High Priest of Dagda.

My companions and I are at an abbey, where we are to spend the next week studying. Our plan was to look for information to aid in our search for three horns. We need the horns to destroy the sphere-artifact we used to kill Isildur.

On my first day of searching, I discovered the most fascinating material here. These are vividly colorful tomes that describe a continent called the Flanaess. I have never heard of this place and it may very well not exist, but the authors of these works have described it so well that I almost think it could be. I have begun copying pages of notes. Much of what I have read describes a Kingdom called Ulek. I already have a deeper understanding of this place's history than of Oriab.

There was a tremor last night and this morning we learned it was a sinkhole caving in two miles away. Half a caravan was consumed by it. Cherek the dwarf went himself to examine the sinkhole, but found nothing exceptional about it.

A week has passed and though I enjoyed performing for the refugees, I am consumed with the need to escape. I tried to have a dog sled constructed, but could not find a competent carpenter. The rest of the party wants to stay the winter here now. It makes no sense! What about our quest?? They have forgotten, but I have not. I have bid them farewell for now and plan to walk to Tambrey. If I survive, I will have a sled built that I can use to rescue everyone.

In the fields of rich green grasses
In meadows of flowers and clove,
Rose a band of mismatched heroes
In the Village of Autumn Grove.

[Here Dagklar's journal ends.]

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Dagklar Greysteel's Journal - pt. 1

I am back in Autumn Grove with my new adventuring companions. We did not find the goblins, for they circled around us and attacked the village again. The giant we killed had much treasure, but I will need to spend most of my share to replace my broken armor.

I have spent a week with these seven adventurers. Ethan is a trustworthy human and the dragon man is undisciplined, but good in a fight. The elf is a coward, typical of his kind, as he hides from anything dangerous. Worst of all is that thrice-cursed oaf who copies me. I have been sorely tempted to do something about him.

It has been some time since I last wrote. We have been busy decimating kobolds and freeing prisoners they abducted from Autumn Grove. The goblins turned out to be kobolds; the villagers just didn't know better. Sir Ethan once said he thought kobolds, goblins, and orcs are all related. I said they weren't -- I hope we aren't. Anyway, Sir Ethan is dead now, killed by spider-like monsters that nearly killed me.

It has been 3 weeks. Lucutus just got eaten by a troll. Varoosh the dragonman seems amazingly powerful, but hangs back in battle. I too have learned to hang back in battle, relying on my bow as well as my sword. I have had trouble with losing many battles. Blood loss seems to make me dizzy or unconscious more often than the others. I have asked Varoosh about this and he said to drink more ale. I don't know if it's worked. He is a healer.

Grogenor and I did not get along at first, but he saved me from demons who charmed me. We had encountered them by the kobold lair, but I don't know if there was any connection. We fled for our lives and barely escaped.

We are on a quest for the keys to a tower. Lucutus, before he died, gave us a name -- The Guardians of the Gate. We believe, or at least some of us do, that the tower holds great treasure. From the kobolds we wrested one of the keys, and we know how to find at least one of the others.

It has been a month (thereabouts) since I last wrote. While others were training in that boring village of Autumn Grove, I left to spend time in Holm. The women of Holm are...entertaining. I have heard of no other adventurers in this whole region. How did I wind up in such a dull corner of the world?

Diary, we are finally in the tower. I long thought we would find much treasure in here, but all we have found are hordes of undead and a few new items. I'm wearing a new kind of armor -- bronze plate. I hope to have better luck in it. I have won many battles, but also lost many. Varoosh and Grugenor have saved me several times from horrible creatures.

With what little strength I have remaining, I put these words on paper. It has been a day since we left the tower FOREVER. My body has been torn to shreds and reformed by magic, but my will is shattered. Every level of the tower had monsters worse than the one before. A giant black monster and undead skeletons had wiped out half of our company. Steggor is dead, and perhaps I feel some loss now that our rivalry is ended.

The others are fools. They want to go back. Myself and the others have returned to the dwarven ruins. Grugenor has found a cache of magic items we had missed before. Coincidence, or a gift from his dwarven god? I am impressed by the powers my surviving companions command. Perhaps, with this new magic, we may yet best the tower...?

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Player Character Morgue: Dagklar Greysteel

[Continuing this feature from September 2007! Dagklar was my last great PC in one of my old friend Tom's campaigns. Tom would make elaborate, home-brewed worlds, but was a bit of a killer DM and...well, you can scroll down to the list of PCs in our party and see how few survived this campaign!

Dagklar's defining moment was early in the campaign when the Guardians were supposed to use a password to get past the elves guarding a mountain pass. Not one of us could remember the password Tom had told us to use! So, instead of hemming and hawing, Dagklar goes "Enough talk!" and draws his sword. We all died in that fight, but Tom called a do-over so the campaign would not end on a TPK (Total Party Kill). I lost Dagklar to the 2nd-in-command villain of the campaign, an evil fighter/wizard who's name escapes me. Dagklar challenged him to one-on-one combat and lost due to the bad combination of a low Armor Class on the bad guy and bad dice rolls from me. But even though Tom said Dagklar was dead, I couldn't accept it. I claimed that Dagklar had ascended to demi-godhood in his campaign setting and one of the other players, Ronny, even had his new character worship Dagklar! But I wasn't done there. Later, in my own South Province campaign, I had some of the players transported via a curse to a demi-plane where many of my old, presumedly dead PCs from Tom's campaigns were still alive but prisoners! Dagklar escaped from there into the World of Greyhawk and was briefly played as a Player Character by someone else sitting in on that campaign. But, below is Dagklar from before his resurrection, followed by my notes from Tom's old campaign. Enjoy!]

Name: Dagklar Greysteel
Class: Fighter (Hero)
Race: Half-Orc
Gender: Male
Level: 4
Experience Points: 13,241

Strength: 18/48
Intelligence: 14
Wisdom: 11
Dexterity: 11
Constitution: 13
Charisma: 10

Hit Points: 33
Armor Class: 1 (or 3)
Move: 9”
Encumbrance: 69.8 lbs.

Alignment: Neutral Good
Patron Deity: Nuada
Social Class: Lower Upper Class
Age: 15
Height: 5’9”
Weight: 180 lbs.

Special Abilities: Bastard sword specialist, infravision (60’), sweep attacks vs. 0 level targets, +1 to all saves.
Weapon Proficiencies: Bastard sword, short bow, quarterstaff
Non-Weapon Proficiencies: Reading/writing Common, swimming
Languages: Orcish, Human, Ogrish, Dwarven

Money: 15 cp, 17 sp, 11 ep, 26 gp, 17 pp (owed town council 346 gp)
Items: Helm, great; dagger & scabbard; handaxe & hanger; quarterstaff; belt; boots, soft, low; girdle; gauntlets, chainmail; backpack – holds flint and steel, hand spade, 50’ of hemp rope, 2 waterskins, dice cup with 6 dice); grappling hook, 2 torches (on or hanging from pack); beltpouch, small – holds 1 flask of lamp oil, 10 sticks of charcoal, 10 sticks of chalk, wooden comb & brush; large sack –5 days of iron rations, bedroll, small tent; fullcloth; quiver – holds spare tunic and hose.
Magic items: Splintmail Armor +1, Shield +1 (medium); “Gleam, the Sword of Truth” Bastard Sword +3 Defender (Ego 8); Potion of Healing.

Background: Nagdalar Greysteel was once a mere soldier in the orc army of Dgrobxk, but rose quickly to knighthood. A grateful orcish lord granted him a large landholding. Sir Greysteel may have been a ruthless warrior, but he proved to be a just ruler. It was on Lord Greysteel’s land that a daring human caravan came from Patr. Among them was a human, female merchant named Kallendra. Nagdalar was immediately smitten with Kallendra and in time she came to respect and then love the fierce-looking orcish lord. The love proved real and they were wed by orc law. Dagklar was the product of their union, but not long after his birth Nagdalar received word that his king was distressed by his marriage. Kallendra was told she had to return to her homeland, but the king said nothing about young Dagklar. Nagdalar bade his wife take the child to remind her of him.

Kallendra and Dagklar retired to a comfortable manorhouse in human-controlled lands. For seven years this continued, with Kallendra and Nagdalar keeping in touch via letters, until Nagdalar expressed a desire to see his son again. Dagklar was returned to his father where he would remain for the next seven years of his life. By the end of that time, Dagklar had become a man. He learned the ways of his father, training in warcraft from Nagdalar himself. Upon reaching 14, however, Dagklar wished to set out on his own and seek fame and fortune in his mother’s lands. His father gave him a generous gift of armor and weapons.

Dagklar’s travels took him south. He made a living for awhile doing guard duty, but longed for a life of adventure. He wished to do heroic deeds that would live long after him, since he knew half-orcs did not tend to live long lives. With mortality weighing on his mind, he regretted so late a start and knew that sticking to small hamlets in the middle of nowhere was no place to start on heroic deeds. But then he came to the hamlet of Autumn Grove, and…

Adventuring Party: The Guardians of the Gate
Guardians of the Gate Role Call:
Sir Ethan, cavalier (dead)
Galen Outback, ranger (dead)
Brother Kord, monk (dead)
Lucutus, elf magic-user/thief (dead)
Grugnor, dwarf cleric
Varoush, dragonman magic-user
Stegor, half-orc fighter (dead)
Lotthar, Halfling thief (dead)
Levar, elf fighter

Campaign Time: Dagklar died on the 17th day of the Month of the Goat (July), 449 Merchant Year.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Iron Man Movie Review

Spoiler warning (for anyone who waited longer than me to see it)!

It seemed like a long time I was waiting to see Iron Man. Maybe it was. Remember when rumors were swirling of Tom Cruise playing Iron Man a few years ago? Yeah, I’d say I’ve been waiting at least that long. Much longer if you count how long I’ve been a fan of the character – since 1975! So, was the movie worth the wait? Oh, it was good…not perfect, but very good.

Of course, I knew before going in that this was, like all the other Marvel films, updated to modern times. Normally, this really bothers me. Most heroes, as they were originally conceived, fit best in the times during which they were written. Spider-Man, for example, is NOT a timeless character – he works best in the context of the 1960s. Before seeing the movie, I thought Iron Man would be the same way. And surely Iron Man does lose something from being out of the context of the Cold War. No soviets like Crimson Dynamo, Black Widow, or Titanium Man in his rogues gallery now? Say it ain’t so! But one thing the movie does right is that it takes its technology very seriously. Watching it, you could almost believe powered, flying suits were actually possible by today’s technology, if not feasible. Certainly not so with 1960s technology! Iron Man was never grounded in real science for the first 30 years of his published history (until Len Kaminski’s writing stint, circa 1990, to be more precise).

So, knowing what I knew going in, I knew Tony Stark’s captivity was going to be updated from Viet Nam to somewhere – Afghanistan was a good, timely choice. And what an exciting opening for a movie Iron Man’s origin makes! A lot of details are not just in the right direction, but improve on the details of the original – Tony not only still has a device protecting his heart from shrapnel, but it first runs off a car battery! Kindly Yinsen now looks more Jewish than Asian, but what a great part he’s been given, with much more to do, both action-wise and story-wise, than previously. He’s very much Tony’s guardian angel, putting Tony back on the path to personal redemption and teaching him, to paraphrase Uncle Ben, that with great technology comes great responsibility.

I was concerned going into the movie about Pepper Potts having too big a role. True, the original Iron Man stories really weren’t very good until Pepper and Happy were introduced to give Tony an interesting romantic triangle sub-plot. And I was very, er, happy to see Happy in the movie, even if only for brief moments and always in the background, but without Happy, would Pepper still work? Yes, and it’s to the movies credit that she is much more than a romantic interest for Tony. Gweneth, as Pepper, comes off as strong, confident, brave, and Tony’s emotional and moral anchor. Better still, as the only lead player without powered armor, she has a vulnerability that builds suspense that never happens around any other character. You always know Iron Man is going to win his fights, but when Obadiah and Pepper are in the office together and you, the viewer, don’t know how much Obadiah knows about what Potts knows or what he plans to do to her – that is the most suspenseful scene in the movie and it works great.

So much in this movie works great. The dialogue is whip-smart. Even the one-line quips – sound bites for commercials and trailers, usually – work in-character here. And Robert Downey Jr. nails every one of them. How could we have once thought Tom Cruise could pull off this role? Robert brings humor, timing, and expressiveness to a role where every moment of screen time he’s not wearing a mask really has to count.

And the little touches! The fighter jets named Whiplash, after Iron Man’s classic villain. Obadiah Stane wears a gaudy necklace, visible in many scenes, because he did in the comics. The “ironmonger” reference (though Stane’s armor is never referred to by that name). Perhaps foreshadowing WALL-E, and certainly one of the funniest bits in the movie, is the robotic arm that keeps dousing Tony with a fire extinguisher. There are a couple more twists that I thought worked so effectively that I won’t even spoil them here.

Ah…but I still can’t bring myself to give this movie an A+! Through half the end credits, I was upset that Tony reveals his identity to the world. What about 40 years of comic book history establishing that Tony protects that secret? I grudgingly accept that it’s in Tony’s character to show off. But I thought the point of the movie was that Tony was a more mature person now? This effectively sets us back to where we were and makes the whole movie a comedy, if the hero has learned nothing and achieved no lasting character growth. And it bugs me that the movie is not self-contained. There are way too many plot lines purposely introduced just to be left dangling, like Rhodes seeing the War Machine armor and saying “Next time.” Or the whole SHIELD thing. And Morpheus with an eyepatch – oops, I mean “Nick Fury.” Sometimes, the movie spends a little too long on the technology. Sure, the armor is important, but we also get seconds to admire Tony’s hi-tech keyboard. His keyboard? And unnecessary product placements really bother me. The reference to Myspace made sense for its scene, but the movie does NOT need that Burger King commercial. I would have just accepted that Tony stopped on his way to the press conference for a burger. I didn’t need to see it and the bag it came in, or give Stane a line of dialog admiring a Burger King burger! C’mon!

So, I give Iron Man an A -- maybe the best superhero movie to come out since Spider-Man 2. And that’s saying something!