Egypt's Never Looked So Good
Iron Man faces his greatest threat yet as he is thrown back in time to battle the evil (and misnamed) Mad Pharaoh Hatap. Can he survive an encounter with this ancient foe? Will he charm the legendary beauty Cleopatra? Will he be able to escape the past and get back to the present? Find out all this and more in this issue!
Now look in my review of TOS #43 I said “Iron Man does not feel right fighting mystical underground civilisations”, and I stand by that here. Iron Man doesn’t have the supernatural vibe of a Dr Strange or the mythological roots of Thor and I think Marvel could have done more to differentiate their different comic book lines by making them face appropriate threats. That said I actually found this issue to be quite enjoyable once I got past the time travelling evil pharaoh premise.
The story moved quickly hitting all the necessary beats to establish our villain and place Tony Stark in the past to fight with him. Time travel aside the plot made sense, Iron Man was able to easily vanquish the threats at hand. I mean sci-fi power armoured individual vs ancient egyptian army has only one obvious outcome, Iron Man ripped apart the various weapons of this ancient army in a visual splendid way. Cleopatra was handled well enough, although I’m not a huge fan of her throwing herself at Iron Man. I interpret it as a bit of a power play, she wants to keep him in the past as his power clearly out matches any foe they could possibly fight. The way in which Iron Man took out the Mad Pharaoh was silly but it made for a great visual effect and again kind of made sense (transistor powered head engine aside).
I think Don Heck has drawn the best looking Marvel comic yet. His cover art is vivid showing the size of the threat Iron Man faces although I think a little more could have been done with the background (brief aside, why are there no clouds in the backgrounds in old marvel issues?). Throughout this issue Heck provides detailed well shaded backgrounds that clearly show Iron Man is in a very foreign land, something I singled out as being missing in last month's presentation of the underworld. There are some wonderfully shaded panels when the Mad Pharaoh first approaches Stark in the present, and Heck does tremendous work during Stark’s battle against an entire army. Debris scatters, dust billows and bodies tumble throughout the encounter. The character work is splendid, Cleopatra really is drawn with an unearthly beauty and the Mad Pharaoh’s desperate terror at Iron Man’s final attack is incredible.
Only the slightly out of place story holds back this comic. If this were a Thor book I would not hesitate to give it five stars but I just can’t help but feel that Iron Man ill suites a tale like this. Don Heck has presented a very fine looking comic indeed which bolsters a well told story and brings life to the panels like no one has done before. For the era you could not ask for a better looking book. This is well worth your time, it may not further Tony Stark’s character but it tells a fun yarn and is a visual tour de force.
Fool! You Cannot Escape Me! Here In This Land Of Pharaohs I Am Supreme!The Mad Pharaoh Hatap