Hi, I’m Stephen, and I have an iPad. Owning such a wondrous device affords me the pleasure of having a veritable library of new and old comics at my finger tips at a moments notice. This week also marked the release of Marvel’s day and date issue of Invincible Iron Man Annual #1 in both electronic and physical form. Was the experiment worth it?
INVINCIBLE IRON MAN ANNUAL #1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Carmine Di Giandomenico
Colorist: Matt Wilson
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Cover Art: Salvador Larroca
Editor: Ralph Macchio
Publisher: Marvel Comics
AN IRON MAN ANNUAL WITHOUT IRON MAN
My knowledge of Iron Man extends to a few origin story reprints, two movies, and whatever reviews Matthew has written for the site (which means I haven’t read much). So when the annual arrived and it didn’t feature Iron Man at all, I wasn’t too upset. Instead, the annual focuses on The Mandarin, who forces a famous Chinese filmmaker to create a biographical film of his life. The only reason the director is willing to go along with the scheme, is because The Mandarin has kidnapped his wife and threatens to kill her if he doesn’t cooperate. I seem to recall working for a few clients with the same method of motivating their staff.
Unfortunately, there’s The Truth, and The Truth, and as the director attempts to tell The Mandarin’s story, he discovers everything is a lie, and devises a plan to show the world the Mandarin for who he is. The scheme doesn’t quite work, as his life mate turns against him at the last minute, brainwashed by the Mandarin. It’s an incredible story, and Fraction delivers moments that make you hope the director will pull it off, while the final reveal adds just enough shock to show how evil the Mandarin really is.
The only problem I have with the story is that the evil villain capturing someone to tell his life story seems a little too much like some of the events that play out in The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril. There are enough difference to make this story unique in its own way, but having just read the book a few months ago the theme seemed a bit too familiar.
ART: DIGITAL OR OTHERWISE
As more and more people experience reading digital comics on the iPad, the more positive comments I see from the newly converted. I’ve been a fan of digital convergence since day one, and there is nothing lost in this translation. All the images are crisp and wonderful to look at. In the digital version, one can choose to zoom into individual panels, or view the entire page. I opted to switch between the two options as I read the three different installments, and both made for an engaging reading experience.
Carmine Di Giandomenico delivers fantastic art in this annual as The Mandarin evolves into a horrendous vile creature by the annual’s end, and I love seeing the inter-cutting between the the real story and the Mandarin’s made up life.
BOTTOM LINE: BUY IT
I’m a little troubled that Marvel released this annual as three different issues in the Marvel Comic App, but I can understand the reasoning, as I doubt anyone would have paid $6.00 for a single electronic copy. Breaking it into three sections makes it easier for people to read, and if they don’t like the first chapter, there’s no additional money wasted.
Interestingly, the last time I get really excited about a Marvel title it was when we reviewed the Immortal Iron Fist on the Major Spoilers Podcast. Both that series and this annual are written by Matt Fraction, and I think I may have found a reason to start reading more Marvel titles written by the scribe. A well written story, art that rocks, and an annual that ironically doesn’t feature Iron Man earns a solid 4.5 Stars from me.