17th Sep2020

‘Iron Man #1’ Review (Marvel Comics)

by Dean Fuller

Written by Christopher Cantwell | Art by Cafu | Published by Marvel Comics

I write this on a Thursday, so that must mean it’s time for a new Iron Man issue 1. I jest of course, but it does seem as though Iron Man has had more reboots, reimagining’s, and restarts than most. Since his original self titled book started in 1968, he has had about a dozen ongoing titles to his name, and that’s not including the many more specials, annuals, limited series and so on. We are probably looking at about a good fifty odd books with an Iron Man number 1 plastered across it. So, this re-launch better be good, or it will be just another for the pile until yet another issue 1 comes along next Thursday. Don’t get me wrong, I love Tony Stark and Iron Man, but when you’ve been collecting comics for four decades like me, you get to be a tad cynical. In fact, it’s your default setting. But I digress.

Let’s take a look at what writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Cafu have got.

First things first, a shout out for the outrageously good Alex Ross wraparound this book arrives in. A lot of things in life may change, but getting Alex Ross to do a cover must always bring a decent sales bump. We start with the now standard James Bond style pre- story sequence, as Iron Man beats down Terrax in a brief cameo, and then Cantwell gets straight to the point. This is going to be an older, wiser Tony Stark. This Tony realises his reliance on technology is not exclusively a good thing. For every good technological innovation Stark Industries produced, there was an Armour War, or industrial espionage, or Stark tech used in bad ways. This Tony wants to get back to basics, a sort of billionaire mid-life crisis. Don’t feel too bad for him, though, he’s taking $65 billion with him.

To be fair, he’s being serious about it. Resigned from the board of all Stark companies, selling his trademark Malibu mansion, packing up his Hall of Armours into storage, and swapping his flashy sports cars for something a little more workmanlike. He buys an empty building in New York, and accepts his relationship with Janet Van Dyne (The Wasp) is over. He really is serious about re-starting from almost scratch. This is starting to look more and more like a breakdown of some sort, further proof being when Tony wants to hang out with the cool kids and do some illegal street racing. Not just me worrying about Tony’s mental health either, as Patsy Walker turns up to see just what the heck is going on with him. He assures her he’s fine and tells her to leave the party they are at, as Tony is going to fry everyone’s tech to erase his details. Naughty boy.

Tony’s got a surprise he wants to pull out for Patsy. No, not that, that would be the old Tony. This is his new suit. Or his new old suit. Tony has gone retro, and gone back to his classic ‘Shellhead’ red and gold, cosily stored in his classic low tech briefcase. This old fanboy nearly cheered out loud. In fact, with Patsy in her Hellcat costume and old villain Unicorn showing up, I think I did cheer. This is great stuff. Unicorn, though, seems to be going through some issues of his own, rambling about gods and such while stealing a priceless Gutenberg Bible. Hellcats’s kick to the face may have been unduly harsh. What’s the deal with that strange guy that approached Tony at the party as well? I’m guessing he’ll be hanging around for the foreseeable future. as will I.

This really was a great issue. I must be honest, I expected to read this, get a decent middle of the road story and promptly forget about it. This is, most definitely, not more of the same. Reminiscent of that time back in the 1970’s when Captain America gave up his role to find himself, or when Green Arrow reinvented himself as a social justice warrior, this is Tony Stark going back to basics. Stripped down tech, brand new start in New York, all about eliminating Tony Stark the brand and just leaving Tony Stark the man. It’s all still ego, of course, but at least he’s trying. Cantwell’s script is razor sharp throughout, nicely showing the gradual dumping of tech through the story, mirroring Tony’s journey, ending with the ultimate withdrawal from society – eliminating his twitter account. He must be serious. A highpoint for me was also the dialogue, very nicely done and realistic to boot. Real people talking, folks. The art, by Cafu, was simply beautiful to look at, and paced perfectly. Great creative team full stop.

Will Tony succeed? as a wise man once said, it’s not about the ending, it’s the journey itself. Christopher Cantwell’s take is all about the journey. It’s going to be a fun one. Who needs to be a genius billionaire playboy philanthropist anyway?

****½  4.5/5


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