Iron Man faces the greatest challenge of his life… and the price may be his soul. Your Major Spoilers review of Avengers #31 from Marvel Comics awaits!
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: Gerardo Zaffino/Geraldo Borges/Szymon Kudranksi/Bazuldua/Robert Gill/Mattia de Iulis
Colorist: Rachelle Rosenberg & Mattia de Iulis
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Tom Brevoort
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $4.99
Release Date: February 26, 2020
Previously in Avengers: Trapped in an icy cave at the dawn of time, Tony Stark has lost most of his armor and a good chunk of his mind. And tonight when the sun goes down and the devil comes round again, Iron Man may very well lose whatever’s left of his soul. A dark tale of hell and ice and iron, unlike any Golden Avenger story you’ve ever read…
“REMEMBER THE FACE OF THE DEVIL.”
Iron Man has been missing from the last couple of issues of this book, having been transported to the past and beaten quite badly by the Avengers of 1,000,000 BC. This issue opens with perhaps the most unnerving memory of Stark’s childhood ever: The time he accidentally caught his father having a debauched “Eyes Wide Shut” party with some of the most powerful people in the world-of-twenty-odd-years ago having sex and possibly selling their souls. In his relative present, Tony Stark is finally out of options. His armor is dead, his power cells barely hold charge and the vibranium he’s been digging from the rock to provide it is depleted. Worse still, he has been repeated visited by cave people who seem to want him to drink their wine (upon penalty of violence) and a talking snake who turns out to be the literal devil, Mephisto. Fashioning an armor out of the only resource left to him, Iron Man is barely able to to bring the fight to Mephisto, just long enough to nab the Time Stone that he’s been using to see the future and returning home.
But in the present, Mephisto has the most unlikely ally of all to take Tony down once and for all!
A VILLAIN I NEVER SAW COMING
Aaron’s Avengers run has been full of big, wild ideas, be they visual (like Captain Marvel piloting an Asgardian flying ship powered by Vibranium and the power of Ghost Rider) or conceptual (the entire idea of the prehistoric Avengers), but this issue takes the metaphorical cake with the debut (and likely the only appearance of) The Invincible Ice Age Man. That visual is probably the strongest moment in the book, but I have to say that the sheer number of artists on this issue is quite noticeable as the issue goes on. It’s not a deal-breaker, but the changes do affect my enjoyment of an otherwise excellent comic book. The return of Iron Man to the present comes just at the right point in the narrative, with the next issue blurb promising that Mephisto isn’t quite done with the Avengers, and that some of the various plots (The Vampire Nation, the Squadron Supreme and more) may not be as different as they might have seemed. Best of all, this issue’s writing is so strong that I can even forgive that there’s only one Avenger featured in it, save for a reference to the Black Panther.
BOTTOM LINE: A POWERFUL ISSUE
In short, Avengers #31 does cinematic and does it well, without ever forgetting the personal torment of a man who lives by technology stuck with flint and stone, and while the number of artists does make the read somewhat less smooth than it might have been, it doesn’t ruin it, making for an impressive 4 out of 5 stars overall. I’m even slowly warming to the over-the-top, borderline-silly idea of the 1.000,000 BC Avengers thanks to excellent storytelling, but I have to say: I never wanted to know about Howard Stark’s secret sex parties.
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Ice Age Man
Even though there's only one Avenger, this is one of the most gripping Avengers issue of a very impressive run... The last page reveal alone is a shocker.