Bendis is in the ar­mour now

SFX - - Reviews -

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.

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