Marvel, in another bout of unending unoriginality, have added yet another Iron-Man title to their publication list. This one centres on Tony Stark trying to track down his real parents. A potentially interesting concept, no? No. It really isn’t very interesting at all.
Brian Michael Bendis, a name that should be familiar to all Marvel comic fans, is responsible for the script here. There is no nice way of putting it but this book was horribly written. It is hard to get at any underlying theme, or at least any of substance, and the characters come across as terribly one dimensional and thoroughly devoid of personality.
The majority of this issue is set in the past and tells of Stark’s first meeting with a fellow child of the elite, Cassandra. The pair strike up an immediate relationship but it only seems to work in Bendis’ mind and not on the page. Cassandra is thoroughly unlikeable, she is snooty and entitled with no redeeming qualities to speak of. So then it is hard to understand why Stark would be so helplessly drawn to her in the first place. Harder still is it to imagine why he would risk his life in shooting a Hydra member at the end for her. Remember, this is not the heroic Iron-Man version of Tony but rather the spoilt youth still oblivious to the ills of the word.
Throughout this book the story is best described as plodding. The pace is quick, hopping from one event to another, but the actual story does not advance in any meaningful way at all. At the start Stark is a University student and at the end he is a University student with a bullet wound. It has been said in another top notch review that Bendis has a habit of writing with the complete collection in mind rather than writing for the individual issue and that is very much on display here. It’s a foolish way to work too as all it does is put people off of sticking with the series for the long haul.
One quite jarring moment that seems worth a mention comes when Cassandra asks Tony whether he has Googled her or not. The problem here is that the story is set when Stark was around twenty years old. If you assume that the character these days is closing in on forty years of age, then that means this story took place in the region of twenty years ago. Google was founded in 1998 so it either wasn’t around when this is supposed to be happening or had been invented but hadn’t become popular enough to permeate pop culture. Bendis should have picked up on that in editing, as should the editors at Marvel HQ.
It’s not all a mess though as, thankfully, Alex Maleev is on art duty. There is something about Maleev’s work that is just so much more realistic that any of his contemporaries. He obviously takes a great deal of care in making sure that each little facial expression and movement is captured in stunning detail and in doing so his work tells more of a story that the script ever could. Here he has crafted a stunning comic where every panel is an eye catching delight.
As an opening to a series this book fails badly. It does not entice you to keep reading and it certainly wasn’t worth the cover price. Undoubtedly it will continue to its conclusion but Marvel big wigs shouldn’t be surprised to see fan support dwindle in a hurry.
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