As a byproduct of widespread super-personality wackiness currently making its way through the Avengers & X-Men: Axis storyline, Marvel has relaunched Iron Man with a whole new m.o. Oddly enough, it falls well into place with the billionaire industrialist’s old m.o. pre-life-changing chest wound. Decidedly off the wagon, Tony is making fresh starts all over the place: new armor, a new city, a new attitude and a new creative team. Although the perspective may be questionable, the actual changes themselves seem pretty good so far.
New Marvel writer Tom Taylor and artist Yildiray Cinar come on board as a wholly unknown creative entity and get right down to operating as if they were a veteran unit. Giving such a high-profile property to these relative outsiders may seem like a gamble to some but so far they’re exhibiting the chops to hang in there with the best of them, evoking not only the recent work of Fraction/Larocca and Gillen/Land but the classic teams of Busiek/Chen and Michelinie/Layton as well. However, their greatest influence is certainly Robert Downey Junior’s portrayal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Remember the drunken party scene in Iron Man 2? Essentially, the creators have been tasked with re-creating and infusing that guy into the mix as mainstream comic book Tony. As far as gigs go, this sounds pretty cherry: Tony Stark with the handbrake cut. No conscience. No 50-plus year lesson of power and responsibility informing his sense of civic duty. Just a metahuman capitalist genius in it to win it and sell you the t-shirt as it all burns down. As shown this issue during a throwdown featuring She-Hulk and “Kid Abomination “ (it’s addressed in-story, don’t worry), he’s simply no longer interested in heroics and do-goodery. Sorry, he’s realigned to “superior” if not more realistic pursuits.
Based in science fiction as much as it is, there’s still something all-too-real about Tony’s corporate decision to unleash his refined techno-virus, “Extremis 3.0”, onto the unsuspecting people of San Francisco as a downloadable app. All things being equal, if real world businesses were able to dole out super-powers, it would probably occur in this manner- right down to the hefty pricetag once the free trial-period expires. Perennial supporting character, Virginia “Pepper” Potts, and special guest star Daredevil position themselves early on to be the voices of reason of this initial arc, each brimming with social commentary and shouldering a fair share of plot advancement. It’s a welcome contrast considering the innate desire to watch the actual protagonist behave so badly and dread his active hand in anything at this point.
In all, “Superior” really is the best and only adjective to describe this latest version of Iron Man. Borrowing a page from Wolverine, Tony being the best at what he does isn’t very nice. But it is damn enjoyable to read.
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CBH Score: 4 out of 5
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