Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev are like peanut butter and jelly. It’s the staple you can always go back to (just pull out an old Daredevil and tell me otherwise!), and they combine to deliver another chapter in Victor Von Doom’s heroic adventures this week.
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: Alex Maleev
Publisher: Marvel Comics
So what’s it about?
Why does this book matter?
Going by the cover of this issue, Brian Michael Bendis is delivering an epic battle of Mr. Fantastic and Dr. Doom, last seen fighting in the awesome Secret Empire finale. Comic book readers know to never trust a cover though, so let’s delve in to figure out what this book is really about.
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This issue splits between Riri Williams confronting Doctor Doom (okay sorry, Iron Man) and Mr. Fantastic confronting Thing and by the end you’ll agree Bendis and Maleev have squeezed a lot of drama out of both. Customary to Bendis, this issue plays with your expectations, forcing you to throw those out, and attempt to rejigger your emotions as characters play against character. Doom converses with Riri in a way that defies her expectations (and the expectations of her witty Tony AI), which creates a sense of suspense and confusion for the reader. What is he playing at, where is this going? Dialogue has that same effect here, with Richards recounting a time he had with Thing. Given how Bendis likes to play with dialogue it’s no wonder he uses it to take the reader down a road you never expected. It’s one of the joys of reading Bendis’ work and this issue is a testament to that.
In a way this issue is like one long tease, from both Doom and Mr. Fantastic’s stories, but both end in ways that are satisfying. Because Bendis is so good at exploring the inner workings of characters via dialogue you’re capable of enjoying even the seemingly most pointless dialogue. That includes Tony’s AI, which adds a bit of humor and high energy to the comic. By the end of the issue plot threads are progressed slightly, but at the same time the characters are explored enough that it’s entertaining and enjoyable.
Maleev draws a splendid issue, that’s filled with dark moody pages (particularly with Mr. Fantastic) and bright internal close up shots of Riri as she looks at her internal Iron Man interface. In a stroke of genius Bendis and Maleev have Doom take off his mask, which allows the reader to see he’s genuine. This effect works with Mr. Fantastic too, and both deliver great performances thanks to Maleev. Matt Hollingsworth’s colors help add a dimension to Maleev’s gritty work that that’s at times realistic, but most importantly dramatic. A pop of purple on Mr. Fantastic’s face, for instance, gives him a sense of drama and seriousness that could have been scarier without the color.
Looks like trouble.
It can’t be perfect can it?
The last page will certainly leave readers saying, “Oh god what is going on now?!” Bendis has written his fair share of events and mind-bending time travel stories, and the cliffhanger, while compelling, feels a tad like more of the totally mind-fuckery we’ve seen come and go countless times before. I’m holding out hope it makes sense moving forward, but I’m tentative to embrace this reveal.
Is It Good?
Infamous Iron Man is incredible at capturing the nuances of character with big ideas at every turn. This issue is no different. Bendis and Maleev utilize each character to their fullest and make an internal journey feel as big.