Brian Michael Bendis has had his hand at Iron Man as an ancillary character for over a decade in other Marvel flagships like Guardians of the Galaxy and New Avengers — but now he’s got the Armored Avenger all to his bad self in Invincible Iron Man #1.
Are he and rising artist David Marquez up to snuff? Is it good?
Invincible Iron Man #1 (Marvel Comics)
Bendis has been hit with no easy task: build a whole new world for Tony Stark as part of Marvel’s “All-New All-Different” initiative. Invicible Iron Man #1 sees an important triune of these new developments take flight; first a revamped nemesis in the form of Madame Masque, who’s apparently found use for the glowing briefcase from Pulp Fiction:
Second, a possible new love interest in the form of Sri Lankan biophysicist Amara Perera. Amara’s an exotic beauty who won’t be beguiled by Tony’s usual womanizing, game-spitting, money-flossing antics, which Bendis hammers into our heads almost to the point of annoyance (their exchange reminds me, ironically enough, of Eminem’s “Superman,” only the line “You’re just plain ol’ Marshall to me” interchanges the rapper’s name with Tony Stark); still, it’s nice to see a woman that can keep Tony on his toes both in the looks and intellect departments — though we obviously haven’t scratched the surface with the latter.
Third, after an entertaining bout of internal monologue in Stark’s very own mechanical “man cave,” the construction of an all-new Iron Man armor:
Bendis has said in interviews — “I could watch [Tony] play in his lab all day,” and that passion is evident in his depiction of Stark’s creative process, tinkering and forging with the most high-tech of gadgetry through an epic, twenty-four panel, two-page spread. The affluent inventor, as always, works alone — save the clusters of Iron Man armors, past and present, that surround him. Much like ourselves, they watch in silent appreciation as their maker unveils their successor: a sleek, tessellated Iron Man armor design that’s commensurately state-of-the-art and reverent to the original. By the time you see the armor’s optics flash to life with electric blue, you’ll share Tony’s stirring sense of achievement.
Which brings us to the art team. Artist David Marquez and colorist Justin Ponsor were given a big opportunity with Invincible Iron Man #1 and they step up to the plate in a big way. From Madame Masque’s gossamer, painted-on looking Venetian mask; to the diverse, life-like characters rife with body language; to the scope and dynamic perspectives of the action sequences to full page shots that pop like whoa, the two simply deliver. To top it off — I got that same sense of wonderment when Iron Man first propelled into flight in this issue as I did from when he does it in the first Iron Man movie; the bad-ass shot features Iron Man surging out of the page with vertiginous blue energy firing off in his wake. Simply put, the issue is a visual feast through and through.
Is It Good?
Invincible Iron Man #1 sees Bendis take on the somewhat onerous burden of building a whole new world for Iron Man; he sets the framework here with aplomb, incorporates elements of the classic character with the beloved Downey Jr. portrayal of the film world, then spins a few new twists that make the resulting fusion something all Iron Man fans can dig, old and new alike.
Although there isn’t as much action as some fans might like, the setup stage isn’t lacking — and this is a premiere issue after all. Also, the hip-hop variant cover mimicking 50 Cent’s Get Rich or Die Tryin’ is easily my favorite one yet. Recommended.
(Warning: The ending of Invincible Iron Man #1 contains a strong spoiler for the whole Secret Wars crossover, so tread carefully.)