Monday, May 17, 2010

Got Any Jacks?

I know. I know. I’m supposed to be drawing women. Not to mention the piece for Christian and Angie’s daughter, Lilah. But on Friday, I had a quiet evening waiting for Suzanne to get off work and I was clicking through my 40 YEARS OF IRON MAN DVD set (in preparation for seeing the new IM movie) and saw the great cover to IRON MAN #105 by the inestimable Dave Cockrum. There, staring back at me, was Jack of Hearts, the most visually frustrating character in comics. As sometimes happens to me when confronted with very beautiful women or very ugly men, the words “!” instantly popped into my head.

I don’t know who first designed the character (Was it George Tuska?) but, whoever it was, they were either a sadist or a masochist. Maybe both. He’s a great character but hasn’t been used much. There’s a reason for that. Nobody wants to draw the noodly-costumed sonofab****!!! Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great costume with an inspired design. But no other character in comics, not even Galactus, has so much...stuff to figure out. My hat goes off to George Freeman, the guy who drew that terrific JOH miniseries back in the ‘80s. I can’t imagine having to draw four issues starring this dude. While I was looking for reference online — the shots of him in the IRON MAN books weren’t static enough to get a full view of his suit — I stumbled across a couple of less inspiring versions of Jack’s togs here and here. I had to laugh. There would only be one reason to redesign the suit. Because you were too lazy to draw Tuska’s version.

I wanted to do something a little more dynamic this go-round. My sketches lately have been looking like the drawings in the OFFICIAL HANDBOOK OF THE MARVEL UNIVERSE. Very static. And dull. So I decided to do something with lots of foreshortening and bending and crackling energy. The drawing itself went very quickly. It wasn’t until I started filling in all the costume details that things slowed to a crawl. But, dang, I had fun doing this one. Even if I did give Jack the hands of an NBA player. I hope you like it.


Speaking of Iron Man, Suzanne and I managed to catch a matinee of the second film this weekend. I wasn’t expecting much because the trailer made it look like a BATMAN FOREVER-style train wreck with too many characters and too much going on. And people were complaining that it wasn’t as good as the first one. Now that I’ve seen it, I have to wonder...what the hell do people want? This movie was as good or better than the first, sharply written and directed, with plenty of action and humor and even features Scarlett Johannsen in a skin-tight catsuit. All the performances were top-notch and the change from Terrence Howard to Don Cheadle was a good call. I thought it would be troublesome but this movie featured War Machine and they really needed an actor who could go toe-to-toe with Robert Downy Jr. Let me tell you, Don Cheadle can go toe-to-toe with anybody. Micky Roarke was his usual great self. Remember that “OH NO!” moment when you saw Whiplash’s “costume” for the first time? Forget about it. The scene in Monte Carlo is brilliantly done, including the nod to the fans when Tony dons his armor from a briefcase. I had to restrain myself from standing up and cheering. There were several scenes that had us laughing out loud and I looked over during one of the action scenes to see Suzanne grinning broadly from ear to ear. I loved DARK KNIGHT but the Iron Man movies have that one element that’s been missing from the DC-based films for years now (and, in point of fact, the comics from both companies)...FUN. As the comic companies bend over backwards to emulate the movies based on their own properties, they would do well to remember what made them so appealing to Hollywood in the first place and get over all the brooding self pity that makes their books so unreadable these days.

My only complaint, and it’s a small one, is the scene in which Tony Stark does a drunken two-step in the armor. I thought to myself, “Who wrote this scene? Chuck Austen?” But even that scene was pivotal to the plot and, taken in context, was forgivable.

Go see IRON MAN 2. And prepare to have fun.


Josh said...

My dad and I saw Iron Man 2 last Monday and it was awesome! I think it's better than the first. I think the suitcase suit is a great homage to the period in the comics when Tony Stark carried his armor in a suitcase, as well as Marvel Action Hour with Iron Man, when Tony's suit doubled as a suitcase. It was cool to see War Machine in the movie. Hopefully the suit gets upgraded by the third movie to take out any flimsy technology from Justin Hammer. That was funny when War Machine fired that missile, or rocket, whatever, out of the compartment in his shoulder and what it did. It was called something like the something wife or something like that. I liked Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow. It was cool to see more of Nick Fury. And now I get why the Mark VI suit has the triangular chest piece, besides maybe the fact that previous Iron Man suits in the comics have had it. It's an awesome movie!

Matt Wieringo said...

It just occurred to me (and the fact that it never did is one of the great things about being a kid reading those comics for the first time) is how gol-darned HEAVY that briefcase would have been if his whole suit of armor really was in there. Forget that it wouldn't fit. If it did, it would weigh a TON!!! Can you imagine carting that around? And remember that issue where it was handcuffed to his wrist? It would have yanked his hand right off. Awesome.

Warren said...

If you expect to be able to explain everything in comics by the laws of physics, then you shouldn't read comic books.

I'm glad the movie is good, though I'll (as per usual) wait for the dvd release.

Your Jack of Hearts is awesome! Very dynamic!

And for some reason, I'm thinking that George Perez had something to do with the costume design, but I could be wrong.

Brian said...


I noticed that about the weight of the suitcase when Pepper Potts tossed it to Tony like she was throwing an empty purse, but I didn't let that bother me any more than the fact that the armor was able to spring out of the "case" and cover Tony in the blink of an eye or the fact that being repeated rammed against a wall by a 2000 pound automobile seemed to do no physical damage to Vanko whose body was not protected by an armored suit.

It was a fun ride and I enjoyed it. Who needs more from a movie in the "Summer."

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Adam Hutch said...

Wow, following a chinese spambot...that's pressure. I love your Jack of Hearts drawing. Very dynamic; looks like one of those pin-ups they used to have as filler in the Annuals.

The trailer for ABC's new fall show "No Ordinary Family" (no idea if it'll be any good) has that same "fun vibe" you talk about in IM2. I miss that in the actual comics. ;)

PJ said...

Oh, that wasn’t a Chinese spambot. I just burped, the place down the road is pretty greasy... excuse me.