The Dark Age (Spoilers!!!!)
To be completely honest, this issue had me all over the place emotionally and with it being rife with potential and potential disaster, I read the issue with more then a little trepidation. First and foremost, if you follow my blogs at all you know I'm a huge Jean Grey/Phoenix fan so you can imagine my reaction when I heard that "the one true Dark Phoenix was returning"...in a 5-part Iron Man storyline. HUH?? But as always I give Marvel the benefit of the doubt...
Let start with the premise...I did my research on Monsieur Donald Birch (aka The Phantom). He had one appearance back in Tales of Suspense #63 and has apparently been harboring this massive grudge now for DECADES. OK fine, a little tired of a premise but sure... But then they pluck a celestial being in the midst of her mental breakdown (she'd have to be if she's Dark Phoenix instead of green Phoenix) and are apparently holding her hostage (however briefly) with souped up Iron Man armors? First of all, I'd love to know when exactly during the Dark Phoenix Saga she was plucked from and how these Iron Man suits apprehended her prior to transport? Then of course there's the machine. A mysterious machine to pick things out of the past (just the past though, not the future) that was apparently scattered all over the world with various people having various parts but it never being assembled until now...
And whats the big master plan? He's dying of cancer and wants to watch the whole world die with him. Alright as far as evil ends go its good but surely there had to be a million other ways that this obvious mastermind could have done this that didn't involve summoning a nigh-omnipotent being from the past. And why? Not because he hates Tony Stark (which would beg the question why did he have to be there) but because he hates people in general. I'm sorry but the whole thing is kinda flimsy...its holds and I'll read it but its flimsy for sure.
Now after all, we have the good! Flimsy opening premise aside, the direction that the story looks like its going to take is very intriguing. Birch won, Dark Phoenix destroyed the Earth but not before Tony Stark grabbed a handheld teleport control and jumps back in time to the point when Dark Phoenix was abducted. Not a bad save at the end there Marvel! I'm very curious to see how Captain Britain, Power Man and Iron Fist fit into all this in the past and it good to see that Dazzler and some of the 80's versions of the X-men will be around to help. And paring Tony as he is now (all trying-to-do-good and being sober) with the mess he was back then is priceless. Gives him a chance to see what it was really like to do with himself as he was at the time, nice job writers!!
I still question the intelligence of making this an Iron Man story when this could have been a great X-men/Iron Man crossover. It almost seemed unfair to bring back the ACTUAL Dark Phoenix and have it not be more X-men-centric to get Cyclops, Storm and even Emma's reactions and feelings on her (its?) return.
Overall it started out weak but brought it back by the end with lots of promise for whats ahead!