Published By: Marvel Comics
Writer: Orson Scott Card
Pencils: Andy Kubert
Inks: Danny Miki
Colors: Richard Isanove & Dave McCaig
Letters: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Nick Lowe
Publisher: Dan Buckley
School is a funny time. Some kids learn how to avoid work and still get passable grades. Some learn how to maximize their time to both be a part of every social club, and stll get good grades. Some learn that grades don’t matter until college.
Some learn to create bio-armor that allows them to accept any outside force placed against them, and create even more spectacular armor that will one day aid them in becoming one of the smartest superheroes ever to exist.
Then again, some just smoke a lot of weed and get laid.
Poor Antonio Stark. His life is not the one of a normal kid. He was raised by one of the smartest men in the world, who, quite unsmartly, lost his entire business to Zebediah Stane. He did, though, keep control of his greatest invention, and thankfully it is that very combination of his and his dead girlfriend’s (aka Tony’s mom) inventions that keeps Tony alive.
Tony has learned to adapt. He goes to public school, and he’s even made a friend. This is where things get a bit interesting. In the original world, Jim Rhodes became one of Tony’s closest associates and friends. They met during the Vietnam war and saved each other’s lives more than once. Rhodes would of course move on to become War Machine I, but right now he’s just the token black kid in an all white school.
Card has been labeled with some fairly unfavorable titles – anti-gay, anti-feminist, but through my research I’ve not found one mention of him as a racist. Throughout this issue he drops little stereotype jokes about what Jim Rhodes does as a black child. Grape soda, fried chicken, etc. all make an appearance, but it doesn’t come across as negative stereotyping. As a matter of fact, it is more throwing it out there that these stereotyping exists, and the fact that Tony and Jim become friends by putting those labels out there right at the front.
Given that this book probably takes place in the mid 60’s, possibly earlier, I think it’s perfectly fine, and can accept it for what it’s worth, although I’m sure immediately saw it in a negative light. Anyway, that’s not really the point of the issue, is it.. but it is worth noting. The rest of the issue consists of Howard Stark’s ex-wife coming back to ask for a favor and Tony in fact, builds the first “Iron Man” suit.
The book is in fact very well written, as one would expect an esteemed sci-fi author to do. Him being green to comics is barely noticable, but does show itself when you occasionally feel lost amongst all of the characters that are in Stark’s life. Not as much in this issue as in issues prior, but Card does seem to enjoy a larger cast.
What do you want me to say… it’s Andy Kubert for chrissakes. As far as I’m concerned, Andy is a silver age artist given modern age sensibilities. In far perspective shots, the details seem to blend to make a seamless picture. In close-ups, the characters have that very defined emotional look that is key amongst some of the day’s finest artists. In panels where two people are talking, there is still a sense of action and motion, which in a book about scientists hanging around, is fairly nice.
If you don’t like Iron Man the character, or this book in particular (although it is an excellently different spin on a well known hero), then at least you can look at it and go ‘Damn, it’s pretty’.
So, to try and sum this up quickly, given how long I’ve gone on. This title is a quiet little gem. It isn’t the most amazing thing ever written, and is going over stories that we’ve heard hundreds of times before. Scientists. High school bullies. Joining friendships. It is doing it, though, with it’s own special taste and flavor.
As long as the book comes out on time, then I will continue to recommend it to people. The story might not grab you tightly, but it will hold you. The art though makes it worth each and every issue.