Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Colours: Frank D’Armata
Release Date: 11th November 2020
How do you develop a character that has, for the most part, always remained the same? It’s hard to escape the fact that people seem to have some fairly fixed expectations of just who and what Tony Stark is, particularly reading some of my reactions to what I’ve written about the last 2 issues, including comments that series writer Christopher Cantwell just doesn’t “get” Tony Stark. I suppose when you have a character who is so well defined, people don’t tend to react well to someone sweeping in and changing that status quo. Why am I bringing this up, I hear you ask? Well that’s simple. I think this in spite of – or indeed because of – these changes, this series continues to be a absolute masterpiece that takes risks with a character that has desperately needed them.
This latest chapter has the hard job of following up issue 2 which, for my money, is one of the best single issues of this year. Somehow though, Cantwell manages it again. This is probably the darkest issue of the series so far, but it is still nothing less than magnificent. It’s abundantly clear why Korvac got chosen to be the main antagonist of the first arc, because this issue shows just how jaded, spiteful, and disconnected Tony is from the average person. There is an entire scene focused on Tony complaining about flying in coach (or economy for us British readers) which is a completely alien concept to him – a mindset which has faint echoes of Korvac himself, who has such a hatred of humanity that he considers himself a god among men.
We are looking at what Tony could be with his worse aspects in control, and this series continues to do what it’s best at. Namely, tearing down all of Tony’s superficiality while brutally reality checking him at every turn. He is a man trying to be a hero but slowly getting more and more frustrated with a seemingly ungrateful world that has turned against him.
Now on to the other half of this dream team, CAFU. He said on Twitter that this is his favourite issue of the series so far, and I can see why as he absolutely knocks it out of the park here. The brightness of the armour contrasts spectacularly against the darker colours in this issue, and it helps so much with establishing the atmosphere. The final third of this issue is honestly one of the best-looking comics I have seen in years. The work by CAFU and Frank D’Armata take an already great book and turn it into something truly spectacular.
I won’t lie though, I’m frustrated. People who look at this and say the team don’t understand Iron Man really annoy me. So let me be clear – Cantwell has taken Tony in a bold new direction, and it is exactly what this character has needed. Regardless of whether you want to blame the MCU or just Marvel not knowing what to do with him, this book in just three issues has lifted Iron Man from a decade of mediocrity. Tony as a character hasn’t changed in almost a ten years, and in an industry that worships the status quo, Cantwell has taken a risk to change that. He gets Tony in a way that I think most fans don’t. Tony is a man trying to be better but constantly fighting against his worst instincts, all while his background and intellect tell him that he’s better than everyone else. That alone is why this book works as well as it does, and why this series is currently one of the best comics being published right now.
[PREVIEW – CLICK TO ENLARGE]
The writer of this piece was: Jonathan Mullen
Jonathan Tweets from @JonathanDMullen