Welcome to Models Inc. Then again, with Iron Man looming so large on the cover of my copy it could well be Model Zinc.
All right, that's a rubbish gag but I have to amuse myself somehow, as the comic itself wasn't the most exciting. Millie the Model, a star of the Marvel stable since the Timely days but rarely seen since the early Seventies, is dragged out of mothballs for this New York Fashion Week tie-in. She brings with her a - what's the collective noun? - shallow of fellow mannequins, including old pal Patsy Walker, better known today as the superheroine Hellcat.
In a nod to modern mores, Paul Tobin's tale has it that Chili Storm is a lesbian and Hedy Wolfe a fashion blogger. But no one is very interesting, unless jabbering on about real world designers counts. The girls swap friendly barbs as they parade around New York in what are presumably the latest styles, but it's pedestrian stuff. At one point we're told that Millie is known for her 'constantly flapping mouth' but truly, she has the least personality of anyone here.
The use of Patsy's abilities and references to fellow Defender Kyle Richmond set this in some version of the Marvel Universe, so I was wondering if Chili would turn out to be a relative of Sue and Johnny Storm. Well, the Human Torch shows up and the answer is, apparently not. No one even brings the subject up. Moment of excited speculation over.
The final two pages see things finally heat up, with a much-needed change in tone - admirably handled by penciller Vicenc Villagrasa and colourist Val Staples - but it's too little, too late. If this comic were a couture piece it would go straight back on the rack.
Along with the Models Inc strip come inconsequential extracts from Hedy's website and a short story featuring Tim Gunn, who the back page ad reminds me is from TV show Project Runway. Here he gets involved in a raid by Advanced Idea Mechanics on a museum exhibit of fashion designs by Janet Van Dyne ('The Wasp. She saved the world with style.' Really? Did you ever see her costume designs?). Luckily there's also a fully functioning Iron Man outfit to hand, allowing Gunn to save the day, quipping merrily as he does so. Loaded Gunn is a lot of fun and would have improved the main strip no end had it been incorporated. As it is, Mark Sumerak and Jorge Molina's tale stands alone.
There are three more issues of this mini-series and I'll likely check in to see how Mary Jane Watson fits in. Trivially, no doubt. But I'm not the young female audience this book is obviously aimed at, I'm just a nitpicking fanboy - and we're always in fashion.