REVIEW: Iron Man #13

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Or – “The Secret Origins Of Tony Stark…”

The biggest misstep in the history of the Ultimate Universe was in trying to tie all the origins together with a big bow, taking what was a large and varied quilt of characters and motivations and turning it all into a conspiracy by nine guys.  The Secret Origin Of Tony Stark has made me wonder: Could the same foolish thing happen in the 616?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

SUMMARY

Pros
Shocking reveals!
More Death’s Head!
Cons

Bland art.
Not really sure I like the reveals…

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

READER RATING!

1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (5 votes, average: 2.00 out of 5)


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IronMan13IRON MAN #13
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciler: Greg Land
Inker: Jay Leisten
Colorist: Guru eFX
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously in Iron Man: Tony Stark has discovered a shocking fact about his own life: Years ago, Rigellian Recorder 451 saved his life by genetically altering him to become a perfect weapon, and now the alien has come to collect on his debt.  With Iron Man in his control and the Heart of The Voldi as power source, nothing can stop the robot from finally fulfilling his mysterious (but clearly nefarious) plan…

DEATHS-HEAD LOOKS AWFULLY CLEAN AND SHINY…

As the issue opens, I am taken by how slick and bland the art is.  Even Death’s Head stalking through what seems like a Star-Wars-inspiring alien landscape feels like a strip mall in La Jolla, and the android himself seems to have been recently polished.  Given previous complaints about Land’s excessive use of photo-reference, it’s a small complaint, but one that sticks with me as the alien bounty hunter has an attack of conscience.  Iron Man, for his part, has been led by the Recorder to a Dyson Sphere in a remote part of the galaxy wherein the last piece of the plan is found:  A five-mile tall armored monstrosity known as The God-Killer!  Using his android abilities, the Recorder controls Tony Stark’s mind, revealing that he engineered Stark to be the perfect pilot for the God-Killer, and setting his plan into motion.  As an aside, this plot point makes me sad, as Fridge Logic implies that the robot’s scheme is what made Tony Stark special, and by extension, what made him a super-hero in the first place.  That’s not only depressing, it’s kind of a dull and unnecessary retcon, even for a character fifty years old.

THE ONLY COMFORT IS THAT IT WILL GET RETCONNED AWAY EVENTUALLY…

The second half of the issue is split between Recorder’s monologuing and Death’s Head pulling an unexpected rescue (thanks to a massive bounty on the Recorder’s head, this time) while Tony and his A.I., P.E.P.P.E.R. try to figure out how to break free from Recorder 451’s control.  A little fighty-fighty, and some smirking from Tony, and we come to the issue’s big cliffhanger.  Visually, there are some good bits in the issue, but Land continues to have issues with consistency in terms of staging and blocking, and there’s never a clear sense of place during monologue or battle.  The fight between the Recorder and Death’s Head consists of several interesting looking panels that simply don’t make ANY storytelling sense as a series, and the entire issue features Iron Man with his faceplate open looking oddly lumpen and off-center.  Given how much I like his wild tangents on books like Young Avengers and Phonogram, I’m really bothered by how sour a note the Secret Origin has hit with me…

THE BOTTOM LINE: DID THEY THINK ABOUT THIS ORIGIN BEFOREHAND?

Perhaps I’m overthinking it, but I liked the idea of Tony Stark as a guy who made good with his mind and his confidence, so having him turn out to be another “Chosen One” undermines a little of what I like about the character, but I suppose I can see where this all is meant to go.  Somehow, the combination of art that makes me a little confused and a story that makes me a little unhappy still doesn’t torpedo the book entirely, but it does leave it feeling very bland and ill-advised.  Iron Man #13 is a book that comes from a misguided place, drawn by an artist who has learned a lot about glamor but not a lot about the underlying craft, leaving the book with a very run-of-the-mill 2 out of 5 stars overall.

Rating: ★★☆☆☆