Marvel NOW! Review: Iron Man #1 by Kieron Gillen and Greg Land

Iron Man #1
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Greg Land, Jay Leisten, and Guru eFX

The short of it:

Reintroducing Tony Stark; genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist, Iron Man. The former weapons designer that now seeks only to craft the future, who now uses this story to pick up women at night clubs. Pepper doesn’t really like that, but what can she do? Tony wants a one night stand, and hot bimbos are good for that…even the ones who assume themselves to be smarter than his average women. He manages to find that as well, with the girl who assumes herself to be a step ahead of him, but tragedy strikes. In Argentina a woman climbs out of a sewer, grabs a phone, and manages to send a text just before an AIM Beekeeper incinerates her. Tony is on the receiving end of the message, and his night just changed course drastically.

The woman? Maya Hansen. The creator of Extremis. The point of the text? If someone were to ever kidnap her and force her to recreate Extremis for evil, this is the warning. AIM is preparing to mass produce it, and Tony has to stop them! He easily infiltrates their sales presentation (seriously), and is only found out when he starts hacking away at their systems. Cue up the debut of his new armor, and put him in a fight against several Extremis enhanced AIM thugs…and you get a pretty cool fight. Of course, the real threat isn’t how many are in that room, it’s how many can be potentially made across the globe.

What I liked:

  • Tony successfully goes undercover by doing nothing more than shaving off his mustache. It leads to a great line, and it raises a good point about Tony. He has a very distinct look, but the mustache/beard is what really sells it. Like how any version of Green Arrow without the beard just doesn’t look like Ollie.
  • I haven’t read Iron Man since just after Fear Itself and this book is really accessible to me. It continues wherever Fraction left off, but it’s not hinging itself on readers having followed the last run.
  • Tony’s new suit. I mean, I can’t tell you that it’s going to be the long term solution, as Gillen paints it as a test model he threw together just for the situation to get through their security, but think about that for a minute. He fights off Extremis enhanced bad guys with a prototype designer model, and kicks their ass.
  • The nightclub used to open the book is MJ’s, which is a nice little touch towards actually taking advantage of the big giant shared universe. If a fan favorite character owns their own nightclub in New York, and Tony is going to a nightclub, it really did only make sense to use it. Anything else would have been lazy.
  • Gillen writes the absolute hell out of Iron Man here, and it’s a nice first issue to set the pace. I had a gut feeling that he’d do a great job here, and he has me believing that I’m going to be loving Iron Man again.

What I didn’t like:

  • How does Greg Land keep getting work? The book doesn’t look horrible, but it’s the same recycled characters that he always uses for his art. I swear, I spent half of this issue wanting to dig out my copies of the Quarantine arc from Uncanny X-Men just to do page by page comparisons.
  • Was that bimbo Dazzler? Or Emma Frost? Or that blonde girl from the Quarantine arc?
  • Pepper is pretty flat here, just appearing to let the reader know what her job is, and to try and get rid of Tony’s bimbo. Really, it felt like a waste of the character, and I hope it doesn’t continue long term.

Final thoughts:

While this book was accessible to me as a lapsed Iron Man reader, I can only imagine a full on new reader having a few stumbling points. Not a ton, as this book was well put together, but there are definitely places for a new reader to just get lost. Like pretty much anything with Extremis, which really just makes a lot more sense if you saw what it did to Tony back in the day.

Tony and Pepper just need to get together and get it over with, and I don’t mean a random hookup, or an “I love you” that Tony gets mind wiped into forgetting. Every time the characters get together in the comics, something happens. He goes to a different reality, he gets mind wiped, she decides she wants to be with Happy; there’s always something, and I’m a bit bored of it. Put them together, cut out the random bimbos, and let Tony have to think about his own personal future and not just that of the world.

Bringing back Extremis is an interesting choice; on one hand, you get to explore that mad scientist mentality that creates a potential doomsday weapon that Tony has to stop, but on the other hand…how long can you really use it as a plot before having to nerf down the power levels so that Tony can believably keep fighting these overpowered designer superhumans?

Tony is really well handled here. Gillen writes him as brilliant with a sense of humor, like James Bond with super science. He’s completely badass in everything that he does, and it’s natural. The tone of “Iron Man is Robert Downey Jr.” remains in complete tact after Fraction’s run.

Is it just me or does Tony look asian throughout the book? Greg Land does not do the book a ton of favors here, though he does do a fine job with the action and Iron Man in armor. It’s just when you actually look at people and their faces that you wish his name wasn’t attached to this book.

When I quit Iron Man it was around the time everything hinged on Tony drinking, so it was nice that the only reference to him drinking here was joking about why he couldn’t. I like sober Tony, I hate falling off the wagon drama.

So why is Iron Man black and gold?

Overall: 8/10

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