INVINCIBLE IRON MAN
Bendis is in the armour now
released OUT NOW! Publisher Marvel Comics
Writer Brian Michael Bendis
Artist david Marquez
They’re calling it “All-New, All-Different”, but Marvel’s latest remix of their superhero universe isn’t off to the most auspicious of starts. Thanks to significant delays, their new line of comic relaunches is giving us the eight-months-later aftermath of epic event series Secret Wars before its climactic issues have actually been published, and the new titles we’ve seen so far haven’t quite lived up to the branding.
A case in point is their latest Iron Man ongoing title, which once again shows the problem Marvel have faced since Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca ended their acclaimed run on the comic in 2012. While the Marvel films have made billionaire superhero Tony Stark one of their most popular and well-known characters, recent Iron Man comics have often struggled to match the impact of Fraction and Larroca’s approach.
Comics mastermind Brian Michael Bendis has been drafted in for the latest relaunch, and these first three issues are as slick and readable as you’d expect. However, while there’s no shortage of fun, there’s a sense of over-familiarity to Stark’s exploits that’s hard to ignore.
The story pitches us back into Tony’s life at a point where he’s almost succeeding in keeping the two sides of his identity in balance, but the reappearance of old enemy Madam Masque spells trouble. She’s somehow acquired lethal new powers, and is attempting to track down magical artefacts. Tony’s mission to stop her gains some unexpected assistance from a rejuvenated and apparently reformed Doctor Doom…
Bendis has artistic backup here from his recent Ultimate SpiderMan collaborator David Marquez, who handles the visuals with style and delivers cinematic setpieces that pack a serious punch. These opening issues aim for splashy, engaging, blockbuster-style action, and they’re helped by Bendis’s skill with dialogue and pacing (most notably when Tony unwisely attempts to get Doctor Strange to high-five him).
Unfortunately, for all the craft and polish on display, there’s a lack of genuine freshness. Nothing here feels especially surprising (aside from Doom’s unexpected appearance), while the heavy continuity references mean this isn’t a good jumping-on point for new readers. Bendis adds a potentially interesting new love interest for Tony, but fails to capture the same charm and personality he brought to Ultimate Spider-Man. It’s still sharp enough to be an entertaining read, and Bendis may later be able to improve the story’s focus – but as a sign of where the Marvel Universe is heading, Invincible Iron Man isn’t quite the triumphant success it needs to be. Saxon Bullock
For all the craft, there’s a lack of genuine freshness
Oi, stop looking at the bulge!
Good tune this one.