All the big-name heroes have held down multiple monthly titles. Why should Tony Stark be left out of the fun? Your Major Spoilers review of International Iron Man #1 awaits!
Previously in International Iron Man: “Billionaire playboy and genius industrialist Tony Stark was kidnapped during a routine weapons test. His captors attempted to force him to build a weapon of mass destruction. Instead, he created a powered suit of armor that saved his life. From that day on, he used the suit to protect the world as the Invincible Iron Man. Recently, Tony discovered that the people who raised him weren’t his birth parents…”
“TWENTY YEARS AGO…”
This post-Secret Wars volume of Iron Man, as written by Bendis, has been quite good, using Doctor Doom, Mary Jane Watson and other bits of Marvel lore in new and exciting ways, as well as capturing a voice that is both true to the comics and reminiscent of Robert Downey Junior’s MCU Stark. This issue opens in media res, with Iron Man already downed by a fleet of generic armored goons, who wonder if he is dead or merely “rethinking his disastrous life choices.” Cut to twenty years ago, with young Tony Stark at school in Europe, starting for the first time to question his place in the universe. It’s an interesting approach, but one that doesn’t really work for me. For one, this comic’s world of 1996 feels far too much like 2016 in slang, culture and use of cellular phones, and for another, the issue’s main thrust is introducing Tony’s college flame, Cassandra Gillespie. The plot is familiar to anyone who ever read Frank Miller’s classic Daredevil run: Exotic strange woman, young would-be hero, immediate attraction, disapproving family. As the issue ends, we find that the ramrod of Tony’s would-be armored assassin horde is Cassandra herself, a moment that doesn’t quite live up to what it clearly wants to be…
HIS VERY OWN ELEKTRA
Brian Bendis and Alex Maleev did an extended run of Daredevil together, and this issue’s return to collaboration can’t help but remind me of that run, in ways both good and bad. While the verbosity of the writing works very well with the dark and moody art, the long conversational lulls that worked in Daredevil (and for Jessica Jones in ‘Alias’) are less successful here. The voice of young Tony Stark doesn’t feel anything like the voice of grown Stark in ‘Invincible Iron Man’, and long stretches of the issue drone on and on with discussion, including a dinner with Cassandra’s father that is glacially slow and painful to read. The fact that this is the first issue of a separate Iron Man comic also works against it: As part of an established, ongoing title, this might have been an okay arc-opening chapter, but it is not really effective as a first issue to establish a tone and premise for an ongoing title.
THE BOTTOM LINE: FEELS VERY FAMILIAR
When a comic book is disappointing, it’s difficult to not be the guy who says “It’s bad because it’s not what I wanted/expected”, but this book’s issues are more than that: It’s not what the solicitations or the covers seem to imply it is going to be as well. In short, International Iron Man #1 feels much more like a Daredevil comic in tone and art, with a plot that expends its energy giving Tony his very own Elektra Natchios, only not as clearly defined and sporting an eyepatch, leading to a well-crafted but ultimately unsatisfying 2.5 out of 5 stars overall. It’s an issue that might lead to an exciting, game-changing larger story, but it’s not cohesive as a single, standalone chapter…