REVIEWS: IRON MAN SPECTACULAR

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INVINCIBLE IRON MAN#1

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colours: Frank D’Armata & Stephane Peru


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IRON MAN: VIVA LAS VEGAS #1

Writer: Jon Favreau
Artist: Adi Granov

Marvel Comics 

And, for a month, Tony Stark is Wolverine. The guy’s everywhere: directing SHIELD, running the Initiative, teaming-up with the Ultimate Hulk and… on holiday in Vegas.

And it’s all down (my cynical side says) to a little motion picture production by the name of Iron Man. The film, by the way, for the three of you that haven’t seen it yet, is probably the best Marvel’s produced, if a little more disposable than the Spider-Man or X-Men franchises.
…But then, isn’t that always the way with technology?

And maybe it’s because they’re pretty much the only six issues of Iron Man I’ve ever read (or maybe my slight hero-worship of the man) but the shadow of Ellis’ Iron Man Extremis hangs heavy over all of them, the film included, as they shoot off in different directions.

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Or not so different. The first few pages of Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man #1 are unmistakeably the first few pages of an Ellis comic. We get some real-world stats to root the danger, a mysterious sci-fi weapon presents itself, and before you know it, BAM, we’re knee-deep in bodies.

And it works. Mostly. The aforementioned weapon isn’t quite big and scary enough: it’s a little abstract for you ever to feel those “oh Jesus” realisations right along with the characters. Lesson 1: Your big-level threats should always tap into a primal, universal fear in your readers.

That said, the bad guy here is genius: taking apart and putting back together Stark’s origin all inside-out and inverted. And he says things like “Let’s make out and whip up more plans for mass slaughter”. Which is more personality than the villains in Iron Man: “Viva Las Vegas”.

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Vegas is interesting in a lot of ways. It’s written by Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man: The Delightful Motion Picture, and drawn by Adi Granov. It’s a sign of what Favreau might have wanted to do with the character, and what he might still do in sequels. Which is nice, but it’s insubstantial. As best demonstrated by the villains, who seem to be a slightly eviller Lara Croft and a the giant disembodied head of a golden dragon. It’s a lot lighter in tone and while it could still end up being fun, it hasn’t done much yet.The similarities don’t stop at Ellis’ run (okay, I’ll stop mentioning him now, promise). The two have a lot in common. They follow a similar structure, with the big threat reveal at the start, then some day-to-day Stark business (who, it seems, can’t get a break in the bedroom. When’s the last time this guy finished with a lady?) and then ramping up to some next-issue-true-believers kick-assery.

invim001_int-6.jpgBack to Invincible (okay, I’m in love with it, and Vegas is just okay): The narration is clever throughout, threading unnoticed from the beginning exposition to Tony’s voice. (Literally unnoticed. The first time through I didn’t even realise the first few pages were Stark-narrated.) But the shining beacon of those voice captions is the “nightmares” device. The Invincible Iron Man confesses his five biggest fears and, even though some of the nightmares he gives are stretched for the purpose of pacing (at least three of them are uncomfortably similar) it feels right. It feels like the beginning of one of those runs. The ones that get inside the character’s head and fiddle with the status quo. In three years time, I’ll be noting how the next film and its spin-off comics are so clearly borne from Fraction’s run, probably.

Invincible: 9/10
Vegas: 6/10
Extremis: Obsession

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