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Like Unto A Thing Or Two Of Iron

Graeme McMillan

He may have the biggest movie opening that isn’t a sequel this side of Tobey Maguire – and, no, I haven’t seen it yet – but that doesn’t guarantee that Iron Man’s new books are going to be any good. With both the blatant movie tie-in (IRON MAN: VIVA LAS VEGAS #1) and more subtle tie-in (THE INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1) released this week, it’s almost as if Marvel’s trying to, you know, get fans of the movie to buy comics or something. It’s a crazy world of multimedia marketing and no mistake these days.

Thing is, the one that’s going to grab most of the movie-hungry eyes is easily the worst. That’s not just complimenting Matt Fraction’s new Tony Stark-centric book; VIVA LAS VEGAS, Jon Favreau’s comic debut, is really pretty shitty. Never mind the lifeless, static art of Adi Granov – his men in armor can’t be beat, but his real people are scarily devoid of any life – and go straight to the appalling script that jumps from scene to scene choppily, has generic dialogue and really, seriously, opens on a skit that suggests that French people are – are you ready for this – apologists for terrorists who hate Americans! I know! Hilarious! And timely!

On almost every level, this book feels like a misfire, the result of normally more sensible heads being turned by Favreau’s Hollywood glamor (Tom Brevoort, how could you really let this go out with your name attached?). It’s not even interestingly bad, it’s just kind of dully embarrassing, and pretty much all out Crap.

Much, much better is INVINCIBLE IRON MAN. You still have art that’s not really firing on all cylinders (although I think Sal Larocca’s work looks better – and less photo referenced – than it did on newuniversal, for what it’s worth), but Matt Fraction manages to do everything you want it to do – Introduce the threat in an interesting way and show that he understands the main character while he’s at it, making his take one that you’d want to read more of. I don’t know if it’s my particular political stance, but I find this kind of flawed, redemptive Tony Stark much more interesting to read than the more obviously heroic version in his Director of SHIELD book (it also seems more in tune with the character’s history, what with Armor Wars and, you know, his origin and all of that). Giving him something to legitimally feel guilty about – and the Son of Stane villain definitely seems to be able to do that – feels like it’s the hook for the reader to actually care about the character and the story, instead of either/or for once. This book both feels lighter and more modern than the other regular book – faster, more ready to reinvent itself – and it’s something that I hope will continue past this first arc, however long that may be; I’m surprised to want to read the second issue as much as I do, and would like to be able to say the same for the second year, if possible. Very Good.

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