Iron Man has been one of the books from Marvel in their Marvel Now! launch that I’ve largely given a miss in the last couple years. I started off reading the first issue but it didn’t interest me at all. The next issue I read was sometime this year, which dealt with Mandarin’s death and his rings’ search for their next wielder, in Iron Man #23 I recall. However, that storyline didn’t interest me either, after two issues, and I gave up on that too. And then Marvel announced the Avengers NOW! launch for Iron Man, and I was interested in the changes being made to the character.
Superior Iron Man #1 follows in the wake of the recent issues of Avengers & X-Men: AXIS in which the villain Red Skull did some psychic hanky panky and unleashed a Hate Wave across the world that has turned some heroes towards a dark path while some villains have turned towards the path of redemption. It is an interesting mechanic, and Tony too has been changed by this, becoming a more narcissistic and greedy businessman seeking to profit from the misery of other people. But the writing didn’t really work for me in this issue, though the art was passable, from one standpoint.
Aside from being more narcissistic and greedy than ever, the “new” Tony Stark is also quite arrogant and opportunistic and antagonistic towards everyone. He leaves his home-base behind and moves to San Fransisco where he releases an “app” called Extremis 3.0 that makes people who use the app become, well, supermodels in their own eyes and those of others affected similarly. It creates a massive sensation in the city and he profits from the free publicity to no end, until he reveals his mean streak and writer Tom Taylor delivers a jaw-dropping twist to the overall story.
I gave up on reading AXIS after the first issue since the story was bloody super-condensed and I had trouble following all the characters who were in it, so I’ve missed the whole part about the Hate Wave and its effect on heroes and villains alike. And what has happened to Tony as well. The Tony we see in this issue, with a new outlook on life and a new suit that is borne out of symbiote technology (re: Venom!), is very different from the Tony I’ve read in other titles here and there. He has definitely gone off the deep end and Red Skull really must be commended in how he has turned some of mankind’s greatest protectors against it.
When Marvel introduced Superior Spider-Man back in 2012/2013, it caused quite a stir. And the book even became one of the publisher’s best-selling monthly titles for all of its run in 2013/2014, so it makes sense that Marvel would reuse the Superior tag to thematically tie in this book to Superior Spider-Man, dealing with Tony’s psychic inversion in this case. It kind of works out decently enough I suppose, but getting behind a self-centered Tony Stark who lacks a moral compass is a tough thing, for me at least.
The top marks in this issue definitely go to Pepper, who is pretty much as you have seen her in other appearances, and she gets a few good kicks in where Tony is concerned. The finale of the issue however, shows that things can’t really be taken for granted here, and that there are some long plans in place for this series. I couldn’t connect with the main character here, but I’m definitely interested in seeing where things go from here since the concept itself is very intriguing.
Yildiray Cinar is the artist here, with Guru-eFX on colours, VC’s Clayton Cowles on letters and Mike Choi on the cover. I’ve seen some of Cinar’s work in the pages of DC’s Earth 2 under James Robinson and I liked it well enough then. He does some great scenes in this issue, particularly those that show Tony suiting up or just lounging in his pool with beautiful women all around him, playboy Tony that is. I like the new look to the armour, and Cinar does pretty decent body language as well, especially when it comes to Pepper. The colours are pretty decent as well, and I like this book from a visual standpoint, though it can be a bit too… pedestrian at times.
Not all that bad a start, but it could have been better I suppose.
More Iron Man: #23.