Tony Stark is back (figuratively and literally) with a new series in this week’s Iron Man #1, but seems like Tony’s got a new attitude to go with his new body.
If you haven’t been keeping up with Tony Stark lately, his most recent adventures couldn’t be any more comicbooky than what outgoing writer Dan Slott already orchestrated. Here’s an attempt to make a long story short: Tony died and his consciousness was placed in an Iron Man suit, which he used to lead a revolution of A.I.s against his evil(?) brother Arno, who sought to subjugate all A.I.s in the face of an incoming phenomena (the “Extinction Entity”) that would assimilate all organic and artificial lifeforms into a single species, which ultimately turned out to be a grand delusion of Arno’s stemming from a congenital defect in his brain that Tony (who had since been reborn into an organic body) was forced to make Arno believe was real through artificial intelligence, letting him believe he defeated the Entity before succumbing to his disease. (I said I would try to make it short.) All of this context is perhaps for naught, however, because Iron Man #1 alludes to virtually none of it.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing to wipe the slate clean—which I’ll return to—but it’s pretty curious that this issue doesn’t even allude to the Iron Man 2020 event it directly follows with a brief recap page. We’re told early on that Tony is stepping away from his company and technology altogether, but not why. Maybe I’m giving it too much thought here, but, if I died, became a robot, and then came back to life while fighting my delusional (possibly evil) brother who attempted to replace me as a superhero, I think it would impact me more psychologically than it seems to have affected Tony here. But then again, I’m not living in the Marvel Universe, where such a series of events may as well just be another Wednesday.
As for the issue itself, it’s setting up a pretty standard Iron Man story that we’ve admittedly seen before: Tony Stark re-evaluates his life in some meaningful way, but he soon gets roped back into the Iron Man lifestyle he claims to have left. But his classic armor is back this time! I don’t mean to discount the plans of incoming writer Christopher Cantwell, whose Doctor Doom was recently nominated for an Eisner and is an esteemed creator in his own right (he was one of the minds behind AMC’s beloved cult series Halt and Catch Fire, another technology drama), but based on this first issue, I’m not getting much of a call-to-action to continue beyond this installment unless you’re an Iron Man completist. If there’s any hook that would get me to keep following, it’s the presence of Patsy Walker (AKA Hellcat!) who will seemingly play the role of his Girl Friday (not to be confused with his virtual girl, F.R.I.D.A.Y.) in this series moving forward. But if you were already shipping Tony and Janet van Dyne during Slott’s run, I’ve got bad news for you, as that ship is sunk pretty succinctly in just three panels. It actually kind of made me giggle with how bluntly it happens, and I don’t begrudge Cantwell for wanting to start from scratch as much as possible, but sometimes there’s just no way to finesse it well enough.
(Stray observation: there’s a running gag of Tony continually getting roasted on a Twitter-like website that I found very amusing and true to life. I’d like to see more of that humor in the series moving forward.)
As for the art, it’s good, but not necessarily the best I’ve seen of Cafu’s. I’ve been a fan of his work since Vixen: Return of the Lion, but Iron Man isn’t especially visually interesting like that series was, which does him a disservice. It’s mostly cityscapes and crowd shots, but the plentiful opportunities he’s given to draw the classic armor are enough to admire. I’m also not usually a fan of Frank D’Armata’s colors, and this issue is no exception to that. His coloring tends to come off as a bit blotchy and overly brown-toned to me, which hinders my enjoyment of Cafu’s linework, but not to a debilitating degree.