19 November 2004

Review: Iron Man #1

Issues with Marvel's questionable relaunches aside, I admit to being...intrigued. I wasn't going to buy it at all but, seeing how Marvel didn't release a single title of interest to me this week, I figured I'd take a gamble.

It's no secret that Warren Ellis is a good writer, and I've thoroughly enjoyed his run on Ultimate Fantastic Four so far, so I was curious to see what he'd do with another Marvel icon that I'd never been partial to.

It's made very clear on the cover and the first page that this is the first part of a six-issue arc, and Ellis sets an expectedly slow but steady pace that fortunately doesn't skimp on content. Overall, it's a solid read, with just enough updated background - nicely framed as a 'nothing is as black-and-white as it seems' interview with a Michael Moore-like documentarian looking to expose Tony Stark - to justify a relaunch without ultimizing it with a complete retelling, or overhaul, of the origin story. Unlike many fanatics, I have no problem with bringing iconic characters' origins forward in time to better fit into our current reality, especially when the writer makes a point of firmly establishing the setting in something close to the real world. Ellis does exactly that, and he does it quite well.

While the tone of the issue is a rather somber one, as Stark reflects on the consequences of his genius and his place in the world, Ellis isn't above a little humor, such as taking a poke at earlier stories the first time the Iron Man suit is shown: "Hard to believe I used to be able to fit this into a briefcase."

Adi Granov's art is a bit of a mixed bag, however, with muted colors that perfectly match Ellis' somber tone, and uncluttered panels that skimp on detail in favor of a small screen intimacy. His Tony Stark suspiciously resembles a goateed Tom Cruise, and the Iron Man suit looks...off, somehow. I can't put my finger on it but it's a little too sleek for my tastes. Granov also doesn't employ a very wide range of facial expressions, especially not for the significant amount of talking head shots throughout the issue, choosing to vary perspective instead, not always to the best effect.

All in all, while I'm not greatly anticipating the next issue I'll at least give it an in-store read, and I don't feel like I wasted my $3.50 on this issue, either. Like I said, I'm intrigued, which for an Iron Man comic is saying a lot.