Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Colours: Frank D’Armata
Release Date: 18th August 2021
An ideal society on an alien world! After being isolated from his friends in the midst of a world-altering chase, Tony Stark has become part of a rag-tag community of heroes and villains from across the Marvel Universe. It’s all going well, and with the help of reformed villain Stilt-Man, Tony has found a real opportunity to help. However, one threat exists in this world and by finding out who’s behind it, Tony might end up bringing war to this world of peace.
The previous two issues of this series have been surprising to me. The main threat of Korvac is still important, but has been put on the back burner momentarily as we explore a threat to Tony, not from without but from within. As we all know, Tony Stark and addiction stories are fairly common. Alcoholism issues have been built into this character since the 1970s, but this series actually provides a new perspective on it, with Tony’s ego having caused his current predicament.
Tony couldn’t best Korvac, hence his decision to chase after him with a broken neck, prompting him to rely on morphine to deal with his chronic pain. Most of the supporting characters know exactly what this will do to Iron Man, resulting in a rather self aware story about someone slipping back into addiction in isolation on a distant world where his past means little. This is seen through the eyes of Stilt-Man, a C-list villain who has been reformed and given a chance to mean something. In a series that has been all about contrasting and mirroring Tony’s arrogance with other characters, this is yet another inspired move by Christopher Cantwell.
Once again the art team takes Cantwell’s vision and executes it perfectly. CAFU gives us two dynamic and fun fights, with original panel layouts to show the unique scale of the battles. Each and every character stands out, even during the most chaotic scenes, a feat which is only enhanced the amazing work of Frank D’Armata, who through this run has shown a brilliant ability to help convey mood, atmosphere, and dread just by showing the unique colours and light from different times of day. With this issue primarily taking place at dusk and at night, the mystery surrounding the source of the threats to Tony’s new community is conveyed brilliantly.
This little side story to Cantwell’s ongoing Iron Man run has once again highlighted the positives of this series. Character is key, and it informs each and every decision in the book. This series ultimately is about one man and his complicated relationship with his friends and his world around him, and ultimately that’s why the book will end up talked about for years to come. This book has become the modern standard on Tony Stark and has absolutely brought him into this new Golden Age of comic book storytelling. It’s nothing short of spectacular.
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The writer of this piece was: Jonathan Mullen
Jonathan Tweets from @JonathanDMullen