Marvel Comics is very good at repackaging their comics to reach different audiences. From their usual trade paperbacks to the recent digest-sized Miles Morales reprints, to Decades focused on a 10-year swath of storytelling, to their Adventures line for younger readers, there are a lot of different ways to start reading their books. Starting this week, Marvel is releasing Marvel-Verse trades which are smaller and feature four stories throughout the history of the character. This week Iron Man and Thanos get the honor of being in the new format, but if you’re a seasoned comics reader or brand new are these worth a purchase?
This book opens with Marvel Adventures Iron Man #1 by Fred Van Lente and James Cordeiro originally printed in 2007. This issue makes it quite clear this collection is for all-ages readers. The issue does well to introduce Iron Man with modern-looking art that’s sharp and suits the character at the time. This book came out a year prior to Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the character that would define the character, but it serves as a nice primer.
Following this is Iron Man #234 by David Michelinie and Butch Guice, originally printed in 1988. This is a classic Spider-Man and Iron Man team-up issue. They face off against Radioactive Man and takes place in the time when Tony Stark still had a secret identity. Tony was more of a businessman at this time and he also wore an Iron Man suit that showed his eyes through slits in the mask!
Rounding the halfway point is Kurt Busiek and Sean Chen’s Iron Man #1, originally printed in 1998. I reviewed the recent Complete Collection which sparked the “Heroes Return” era of Marvel Comics after Jim Lee and Rob Liefeld finished “Heroes Reborn” in 1997. This is another modern retelling of the character and given it came off a massive reboot it allowed the creative team to take the character in new directions.
Fred Van Lente wraps up the book with Marvel Adventures Iron Man #7. This is a good example of classic supervillain vs. superhero comics. Dr. Doom is the big-bad in this issue and it requires Tony to unveil a new “Ghost” Iron Man suit. Graham Nolan draws a solid issue that’s dark and suits the trip to Latveria. It also features how Iron Man is smart as well as resourceful in battle. You can’t have an introductory trade like this and not have Iron Man show off a new suit, which is likely a big reason it was collected here.
Overall this is a fun way to jump into Iron Man comics. There isn’t a logic I can find as to why the four issues were chosen for this, but you can see each one reveals different ideas that make Iron Man work.