Iron Man is one of my favorite Marvel characters going back reading David Michelinie and Bob Layton iconic run. Unfortunately the last decade of Iron Man stories have not grabbed my attention. While Brian Bendis and Dan Slott did there best neither one captured what made Tony Stark an engaging character. Some of that had to do with how they both went hard into the Tony Stark being adopted story and making the whole thing a convoluted mess. Now that Christopher Cantwell is stepping in to take over writing duties for Iron Man I’m once again willing to give this new creative run a shot as I’ve done before. Will Cantwell deliver? Let’s find out with Iron Man #1.
Writer: Christopher Cantwell
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Story Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: On Monday, while battling Terrax the Tamer, Iron Man has his new AI B.O.S.S. complete the paperwork to withdraw him from the Board of Stark Unlimited. In addition to that Tony Stark tells B.O.S.S to take the $25 billion of the $65 billion he made from Stark Unlimited stock to invest in various companies.
On Tuesday, Tony has an interview to announce the reason he left Stark Unlimited was to get back to his roots while reinvesting his fortune. The journalist asks Tony about how his recent innovations ended up getting people killed and if him stepping away involves that.
On Wednesday, after selling his Malibu mansion, Tony gets Rhodey to help him pack up his armory.
Tony then takes Glory Grant on a cross country trip while giving the Daily Bugle an interview. Tony ends up speeding too much and loses control of his car. He is able to hit the brakes before they drive off a cliff.
On Thursday, Tony decides to buy a 1978 Dodge Aspen to celebrate moving back to New York City.
Tony then moves in to his new Manhattan apartment. Janet Van Dyne stops by to congratulate him on the new place and inform him that she has moved on. Tony says the same and they have an amicable split.
Later that night Tony uses his new car to participate in a drag race on Amsterdam Avenue. A guy named Halcyon, who is deaf, appears and uses sign language to tell Tony to get ready to see his tail lights.
The race begins and Halcyon is able to out maneuver Tony at every turn and makes it look easy. Halcyon ends up winning.
Later Tony goes to a party and is bombarded by people asking him to invest in his company. Patsy Walker appears and saves Tony. As they catch up Patsy wonders what Tony is really trying to do as she is one of the people who knew him in his original metal Iron Man suit. Tony says that he is trying to get back to that. Patsy isn’t sure as Tony still sounds confused about what he wants.
Suddenly a guy named Fuller Tielhard approaches Tony and says he has something to share that could change everything: Lightning Capture. Tony laughs but Tielhard says he is serious as he has captured a lightning strike and figured out how to store it indefinitely. Tony says that’s interesting but only because lightning is cool.
Tony and Patsy hen walk away and go down to the garage.
After showing off his car Tony reveals he built a new Iron Man costume that is inspired with the Mark 3 design. Patsy compliments Tony on the vintage look. Tony then asks Patsy if she be up for a Iron Man and Hellcat team up. Patsy wonders about the people at the part. Tony say he is going to release an EMP in 24 minutes that’ll fry all digital devices in the complex.
As the EMP goes off Iron Man and Hellcat take off together and make it to the top of a building. Tony takes off his helmet and admits to Hellcat that when he first built Iron Man it was with the intention of help people but after a while it became a company, mission, vision, brand, his reputation all in one. Tony says that he isn’t sure who he is now. Hellcat tells Tony that maybe he doesn’t need to be anyone though even with this new humility he still has ego.
Tony sees a helicopter on top of a library and they go off to check out what is going on.
Iron Man and Hellcat spot Unicorn stealing a book. When they confront Unicorn about what he is doing. Unicorn hits Hellcat with a blast and then uses a area of effect attack to knock Iron Man down. With both heroes down Unicorn takes off in his helicopter.
Iron Man recovers and quickly takes down the helicopter. As Unicorn recovers from the crash Iron Man notices what the villain stole was a Gutenberg Bible. Unicorn says that “The Other” will vengeance on Iron Man and Hellcat. Hellcat knocks Unicorn out.
Iron Man opens the book Unicorn stole. As he does that Iron Man is hit by a lightning attack from behind. Iron Man and Hellcat are left confused at where the attack even came from.
Elsewhere Tielhard is looking out of his apartment window while thinking of the line Buckminster Fuller said that “God is a verb.” End of issue.
The Good: Iron Man #1 is the reset that the franchise desperately needed. There is no argument that Tony Stark has been through a lot over the last decade plus since, arguably, becoming the face of the Marvel Universe. With so much that has happened in his life Christopher Cantwell takes the approach of having the character take a step back to reassess who Tony Stark and Iron Man are.
This was the best way to go about relaunching the Iron Man franchise. Tony has become a character with an immense amount of baggage. A lot of that baggage became so convoluted that it was just a tangled mess. Having Tony realize this about his own life was a smart way for Cantwell to kick off his run. Iron Man #1 allows Tony to have a fresh start while inviting all readers in to get in from a new beginning as Cantwell kicks things off.
What made this so successful was the fact that Cantwell does not just throw out all the work Brian Bendis, Dan Slott, Kieron Gillen, and other writers have done with the character. Respecting what came before him shows that Cantwell very much respects the work others have put in. We see that with the opening addressing Tony quitting the board for Stark Unlimited and setting himself up to have an open future with his fortune still intact. Cantwell then addresses Tony’s relationship with Janet Van Dyne and shows us that both characters are moving on from each other.
Tying up these loose ends without them being the focal point made the story flow much better. It got you into Tony’s current mind set of getting a fresh start after all he has been through. In all his interviews and his talk with Patsy Walker we get a look into how Tony does understand he had built up a lot of baggage over the years. Getting back to who he is and why he was so passionate about being Iron Man is a good start.
Positioning Tony in a spot where he is an insanely rich guy without a company also leaves the door open for what his future outside of being Iron Man is. Not starting a company right after leaving Stark Unlimited furthered the whole point of Iron Man #1 being about him searching for who he is. That is furthered by how Tony goes with modernized design for his Iron Man Mark 3 armor.
Tony going with such a big move there was no avoiding how much attention that would draw. He is after all Tony Stark, one of the most well known person in the Marvel Universe. Tony cannot simply take his fortune and sneak off into the shadows. Cantwell addresses that well with the interviews Tony does at the beginning of Iron Man #1 and how he is constantly hounded at the party he hosted. How Tony deals with his own fame alongside his new search for who he is makes the personal life aspect of this series something that is as intriguing as the superhero part.
Bringing in Patsy Walker to be an important part of the cast for Iron Man was a great choice. Cantwell immediately captures a strong chemistry between Tony and Patsy that is natural. The dialogue is written in a way that you understand that Tony and Patsy have a history but you don’t need to know it all to understand their chemistry. This allowed the dialogue to flow much better and Patsy calling Tony out on still having his large ego alive something that was meaningful. That conversation was exactly what Tony needed after he spent most of Iron Man #1 just wandering around aimlessly.
Furthering the dynamic between the two by having them team-up as Iron Man and Hellcat was a nice touch. Like in their conversation, Cantwell and Cafu showed that they complimented each other well. As the mystery with the lightning strike grows Cantwell can further show how well these two work together.
The first story using a person looking to show Tony why he should invest in his work was a good play. It allows Cantwell to further explore how people are going to be looking to use Tony being a free agent in the investment world even more. What is driving Fuller Tielhard to go to such lengths that he would bring in other villains will be interesting to find out.
Cafu provided some of his best artwork to date with Iron Man #1. What made Cafu’s artwork stand out so much was how he was given the chance to tell the story without dialogue at various points in this issue. He got you into what frame of mind Tony is in as Cafu with how he drew Tony’s expressions. From the interviews he does to the drag race, Cafu’s artwork really enhanced the story Cantwell was looking to tell.
The Bad: Nothing.
Overall: Christopher Cantwell and Cafu kick off their run with a strong first issue in Iron Man #1. Cantwell showed a strong understanding of who Tony Stark is as he gives Iron Man a chance at a true fresh start. That along with strong artwork from Cafu makes Iron Man #1 a comic book Marvel fans should check out.
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