Or – “What Iron Man Really Looks Like…”


I have to go on record as being very unhappy with the current state of Iron Man’s armor.  I hate the “evening gloves and hip boots” thing, and I really dislike the almost-simian shape of the butt-ugly new mask.  I guess everybody has their favorite version of various characters, but mine will always be the red-and-silver, big shouldered Centurion armor from 1987 or so.  As drawn by Mark Bright and others, it was always visually impressive, and really made the character stand out among the rest of Marvels’ finest.  Some said it looked too much like a Transformer, but for me, it’s one of the few looks that Shellhead has ever had that actually LOOKS like armor…  What does this have to do with the issue I’m reviewing?

Not a thing, folks.  Welcome to Major Spoilers, restrooms are right over there…

Marv2.jpgPreviously, on Marvels – Eye Of The Camera:  Phil Sheldon has seen a lot in his years in the Marvel Universe, from a robot that bursts into flame to the emperor of an undersea kingdom to the appearance of Galactus himself, but even the go-getting upbeat Mr. S can be depressed once in a while.  With the advent of “heroes” like The Punisher and Wolverine, and a darker Marvel Universe around him, even Phil has started to question the heroes motives and methods.  Add to that the revelation that he is suffering from lung cancer, and Sheldon finds himself in a downward spiral.  “I thought what I did was valuable.  Worthwhile.  But it looks like a lot of what I thought…  about the world, about how things were supposed to work…  Well, maybe I was wrong.  A starry-eyed dreamer, pretending everything was happy and sunny and bright.  Pretending any of it mattered…”

This issue delves further into the 70’s and 80’s of the Marvel Universe, with the Fantastic Four disbanding, Iron Man accidentally killing a foreign dignitary, Captain America brainwashed by Doctor Faustus, and Spider-Man working with the Punisher.  Phil starts to think that maybe Jonah Jameson was right, that Spider-Man and the rest are really nothing but masked menaces.  Jay Anacleto’s art really manges to capture late 70’s fashion, as well as delivering incredibly detailed  expressions and realistic detail that even Alex Ross might have trouble coming up with.  Busiek takes every depressing detail of Marvel during the times (the assassination of Elektra, Bullseye killing a commentator on live television, even Spider-Man throwing Mister Hyde off a rooftop) and uses it to his advantage, creating an air of pure despair.

We reach the time of the Secret Wars,  as the greater portion of the Marvel heroes disappear from the world for a week.  The world turns as normal, but upon their return, the heroes bring the Beyonder back with ’em, which leads to the liquifaction of the entire Rocky Mountains.  Phil ends up going up on a helicopter (because that’s who you want around in a crisis: an ocotgenarian with cancer and one eye) and having his faith in Marvels restored by an almost magical moment (which I won’t spoiler, because I’m like that.)  He returns home with renewed vigor, even quitting his cigarettes in order to rededicate himself to life and family, and prepares to write a sequel to his “Marvels” book, written in the original mini of the same name.  Unfortunately for Phil, his checkup reveals that his cancer has metastasized, and is back more aggressively than ever…  Also, Next Issue: X-MEN!  X-MEN!  X-MEN!

This is an odd series, from top to bottom.  I remember Marvels fondly, and even I’m not sold on the need for a sequel.  Busiek ties in a host of real historical Marvel events (which really kinda makes the Shooter-era comics seem like a dark and unpleasant place to be, which wasn’t entirely the case) as well as a lot of sturm und drang, but the overall effect is mixed.  I like the art a great deal, but the moment where Phil watches the Silver Surfer and the Molecule Man rebuild the Rockies with the Power Cosmic (Oh, heck!  I Spoilered it!) is ludricrous on a number of levels, not the least of which the fact that it actually happened that way.  I don’t know why, but this issue of  “Eye” didn’t quite gel for me for some reason.  A lot of sound and fury, with an oddly downbeat ending, ending up signifying only that the mini goes on for a couple more issues.  Marvels – Eye of the Camera #4 ranks a kind of disappointed 2 out of 5 stars, and I hope that Busiek has something more compelling than PHil Sheldon’s death in mind to wrap it all up.



  1. Jeff
    March 15, 2009 at 8:12 pm — Reply

    I loves me some silver-and-red Iron Man and wish he’d go back to that color scheme, if not an updated variation on that armor!

  2. The Dude
    March 15, 2009 at 8:35 pm — Reply

    And here I thought I was the only one who hates the current Iron Man armor. Glad to see I’m not alone.

  3. March 15, 2009 at 9:57 pm — Reply

    He kinda looks like robo cop crossed with the iron giant…


  4. March 16, 2009 at 10:52 am — Reply

    I like the Silver Centurian armor. And from the looks of the solicits for Invincible Iron Man, so does Marvel, ’cause it’s comin’ back!

  5. Brent
    March 16, 2009 at 1:33 pm — Reply

    Hmm, about those 1970’s and 80’s armor designs, the ones that aren’t mechnized/robo-cop…the legs and arms looked like sheaths of metal. How did Tony bend his elbows and knees?

    As a kid, I also wondered how Tony’s whole IM suit fit into one briefcase..helmet, torso, boots, and Iron “man panties” and all.

  6. Jeff
    March 16, 2009 at 2:47 pm — Reply


    According to Issue #13 of the Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe, the 70s and 80s era-Iron Man costumes were essentially cloth-thin metal and ceramic weaves reinforced by a magnetic field. It’s a similar principle to Star Trek (among other Sci-Fi franchise’s) “structural integrity fields,” which were what really held starships together.

    I bet Bill Adama is wishing Galactica had one of those right about now… ;-)

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The Author

Matthew Peterson

Matthew Peterson

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture!

And a nice red uniform.