The release of Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 has brought a new lens to the backstory of the billionaire inventor. Tony Stark has always been a genius, and in this comic, writer Dan Slott has started the story off 25 years ago, where an international robotics competition has the returning champs, Bhang Robotics, facing off against a singular young competitor, a teenaged Tony Stark.
Stark wins and proves that not only is he a genius, but he is light-years ahead of his competition. Fast forward 25 years and Tony Stark is the billionaire savior of the world, and he has gone calling on his old foe, Andy Bhang.
Tony has bought Bhang Robotics and brought Andy to Stark Unlimited. Tony needs him to solve a problem in the robotics division. While Bhang is taking in the wonders that Stark and his corporation have created, a giant dragon unleashes an attack on New York City. Tony’s response helps Bhang make a real contribution and move from the befuddled fallen robotics genius to an eager creative maestro that Tony Stark needs.
It seems like every Marvel hero is getting a new storyline and reset lately, and now with this new look at Iron Man, readers who have been longtime fans get a chance to see their favorite hero through a new lens. I was a little apprehensive when I started the book, but I was pleasantly surprised and excited for the possibilities of this new comic series.
Writer Dan Slott has taken many of Tony Stark’s preexisting character traits and brought them along to this series while creating some new attributes. Slott makes Stark not only a billionaire, who is supremely confident, but also an excellent sales person. The pitch Stark makes to Bhang has all the hallmarks of a used car salesman approach; but it’s Tony Stark making the pitch, so it seems cool.
Slott also makes an Iron Man comic that is all Tony Stark and not Iron Man. If this is going to be a series that is more about the people behind the technology than about the superhero, then I am hooked and ready to follow along. I suspect that since the comic’s name begins with Tony Stark this might be the direction of the comic series.
With good writing, a comic series needs to hit it out of the park in the art department too. Since Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 is bringing a new take, he and the other characters of this world need a new look too. Artist Valerio Schiti has a challenge of epic proportions. With Robert Downey Jr. owning the look of Iron Man since 2008, and with every comic prior to this one, Schiti, has been able to capture the established look of Stark and others, but has brought a different look that allows him to own the characters design.
Small things can make a great difference to the look of characters. From the direction of the goatee on Stark’s face or the shape of Rhodes’ chin, can allow a new look to very familiar faces. Also, playing with the look of the page makes this comic a brand new adventure. When Stark brings Bhang to the Stark Unlimited campus, there is a scene where Stark’s head of security, Bethany Cabe meets him and Bhang on the helipad, but Cabe stretches beyond her scene, overlapping into other scenes she is not a part of. I liked the subtlety of how this altered the perspective of the comic page but also allowed readers to see Cabe as being an important character that is heavily involved in everything in the setting.
The message of this comic is not that one man is Iron Man, but as Tony Stark says at the end, that “we are Iron Man”, referencing the assorted group of people who make up a wide variety of ages and ethnicities behind the beaming Tony Stark. What a fantastic way to end the comic. Iron Man is more than just one person.
I really enjoyed this comic, and look forward to what Slott and Schiti do with Tony Stark, and what heights they will bring him too in future comics.