The first three episodes of Iron Man were fairly solid, and they “felt” like how an Iron Man story would play out in anime form. It followed the movies for the most part and kept with the way the general audience would expect Tony Stark and company to behave. The series has been something that could easily play as a mini series published by Marvel Comics.
The catch is that the anime hasn’t really felt like a proper, in-house, Marvel continuity storyline. It’d make sense within the context of said universe, but it didn’t have nearly as many of the tell-tale signs that make a Marvel fan say “Yep, that’s how Marvel Comics rolls.”
Episode four finally got around to The Marvel Way and is all the more awesome because of it.
1) The Crossover
Crossovers don’t happen in anime and manga. Outside of in-jokes and references, there’s rarely any indication that series exist in the same world. It’s even somewhat rare for titles written by the same creator to acknowledge the existence of their other creations. That ain’t the case with comics. Marvel titles, DC titles, and the titles of other companies interact on a regular basis, allowing for teams like The Avengers and insane crossovers to exist. This allows the writers to build on this shared world and create all sorts of interconnected stories.
We’re seeing that with Wolverine/Logan’s cameo appearance in episode four of Iron Man. On the one hand, this is a timely, convenient cameo appearance. Logan just happens to be in Japan tailing A.I.M., and in the process he’s run into some agents of Zodiac. It’s a typical stunt to pull in comics– deliberately steering one series’ plot so that it intersects with another’s. Tony Stark’s current story just happens to be taking place in Japan? Let’s have Wolverine’s head that way too. Since I believe Wolverine’s storyline is also set to take place in Japan, whoever’s working behind the scenes on these series is probably doing so not just to have the series be more “relatable” for the Japanese audience, but they’re doing it so they can have the characters interact with one another with some degree of logic plot-wise. Since Wolverine’s tracking down A.I.M., I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re one of Logan’s primary antagonists in his own series coming out in January.
And it doesn’t hurt that throwing Logan into the mix acts as a little self-promotion. Get the fanboys excited for the upcoming series and all that. I know it worked on me, and I’m not much of a Wolverine fan.
2) Coming Back From The Dead
This is something that aggravated me about Marvel Comics back when I read them on a regular basis: If a character dies, don’t expect them to stay dead for very long. Sometimes it’s a matter of a popular character kicking it, only to come back to satiate the fans. Sometimes it’s a matter of one writer disliking/not giving a damn about Character X, but said writer leaves after a year or two and his replacement likes Character X and finds a way to bring him back.
We see just that in this episode. We get a flashback to when Stark was held captive by terrorists, and we get to see his friend that saved his life after the terrorists nearly killed him. He dies in the same way he did in the movie, fending off the baddies so that Stark’s armor can power up and bust out of the joint. The catch is that in the anime he doesn’t stay dead.
Instead of dying a noble death, our buddy here is alive and well and he wants a piece of Stark, what with the fact that he’s piloting the evil, stolen black armor. My first guess is to assume that Zodiac got to him as well, since we get the whole spiel about how Zodiac finds people to turn into cyborgs so they can utilize them as assassins and the like. Sounds like the sort of plot they’d use to get at Stark: take in the dude that helped save Stark and play off of any remaining grudges said dude may have. Yeah, he may have been talking tough as he was dying, but there has to be some degree of resentment. It may not have been strong, but evil organizations are like that. You take a small kernel like that and let it grow and fester and boil over, with a little assistance and brainwashing and the like. That way you have an ideal candidate for taking down your nemesis– someone your nemesis has no desire to harm, much less kill. Comic book baddies love that sort of table-turning shit.
So, yeah, dude’s back from the dead. He’s a Marvel Zombie. Other companies pull that shit off, but Marvel’s far more guilty of it than any other company. It’s totally the sort of thing you’d expect from a Marvel story. So, despite the fact that I’ve found this stuff annoying in the past, I’m pretty happy to see it in anime form. It makes Iron Man feel all that much more like what it should feel like.
Also: I approve of Wolverine’s anime redesign. Yeah, he isn’t the short and stocky Wolverine we’re used to, but he still have the right “look.” He has the mutton chops and the rugged, drifter look. He may be a little too skinny for someone named after an animal that’s a small, concentrated ball of muscle and bad attitude, but whatever. This is anime. Anyone that’s a major character is anorexic, so that gets a pass.