This trade paperback reprints the first seven issues of a new Iron Man series from a couple of years back, THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN. As such, it’s one of the most recent comics stories I’ve read lately, and I was kind of surprised by how much I enjoyed it (with a few quibbles, of course).
This is close enough to the Iron Man I remember that it still seems like the same character. The big difference is that since this story follows the big Civil War crossover event, a lot of superheroes have gone public with their formerly secret identities. So everybody knows that Tony Stark is really Iron Man, which I can accept in the current continuity, although it still seems odd to me. Stark not only heads up his multinational conglomerate, Stark Industries, but he’s also the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Marvel Universe’s superspy organization. (Whatever happened to Nick Fury? He better not be dead. He was always my second-favorite Marvel character, after Ben Grimm.)
The first six issues in this volume make up a storyline called “The Five Nightmares”, and the seventh, which guest-stars Spider-Man, serves as an epilogue. The bad guy is Ezekiel Stane, the son of deceased Iron Man villain Obadiah Stane. In order to get revenge on Tony Stark for his father’s death, Ezekiel Stane has stolen some Stark Industries technology and adapted it into terrorist weapons. In classic comic-book fashion, though, that’s just an excuse for some good old-fashioned brawls between Iron Man and Stane’s evil variation of the same character. The script is by a writer I’m unfamiliar with, Matt Fraction, but it’s a good one, filled with a nice mix of captions and dialogue. Too many modern comics writers use captions too sparingly, in my opinion. It’s a convention of the form, for goodness’ sake. You’re writing comics, not movies. But to continue . . . Fraction’s dialogue is pretty good, and in the Spider-Man scenes he does a fine job of capturing the character’s wise-cracking personality.
The art by Salvador Larroca (another comics creator unfamiliar to me) is okay. Larroca’s storytelling ability is pretty good. I didn’t have to sit there and study each page just to figure out what’s going on. But I’ll admit that dark, muted art on slick paper will just never feel “right” to me where comics are concerned. Comics are supposed to be bright and colorful and printed on cheap paper. However, those days are gone, and I’m glad to read something new, or relatively new, that at least approximates the traditional feel of superhero comics. THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN: THE FIVE NIGHTMARES succeeds on that score. If you’re a fan of the character, even a long-time fan like me, I think there’s a good chance you’d enjoy this one.