Friday, July 22, 2011

Iron Age #1

Cover by Joe Jusko,
 Lee Weeks, Dan Brown
Iron Age #1 (June 29, 2011)
Writer: Christos N. Gage, Rob Williams
Inker: Lee Weeks, Tom Palmer, Ben Oliver
Colorist: Matt Hollingsworth, Veronica Gandini
Letterer: Jared K. Fletcher

I quite liked this.

For now, I have nothing more gripping or clever to say except that though I have no doubt that this was not the strongest demonstration of Tony Stark as a main character, I did enjoy reading his narration. This was definitely a pleasantly straightforward introduction to him for me, though that may seem strange as the plot of this issue revolves around time travel, alternate realities and multiple Tony Starks. Still, underneath all this excess, the plot was simple enough: Tony Stark must stop an evil villain from completing his evil plot in the past and destroying the world in the future. I know I’ve read that before.

 Iron Age #1 contained two stories, the first (With A Little Help From My Friends) an ensemble piece featuring the entire Avengers working together as a team, first against future-Tony Stark whom they believe is simple contemporary-drunk-Tony Stark and then against someone called Ultron Omega. Stark was fun to read as he struggled to convince his fellow Avengers that he really was from the future and also confront his past alcoholic self. Sadly, Gage very often steered into heavy-handy woe-is-me territory. Stark was constantly worrying, pitying himself and lamenting his heavy responsibility. When he was just Iron Man, just focused on his mission and the battle at hand – he was great. In all the quiet moments, Stark was a bit unbearable.

The battle scenes were a lot of fun, however, especially as illustrated by Weeks. I am still getting used to ensemble fight scenes but Weeks did a very decent job balancing the characters and action. Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, and the Wasp all had their moments to shine. Hank Pym aka Ant-Man, however, really stole the show here. Weeks really made this character, someone I never gave a second thought to, very interesting and intriguing. His dynamic played against Stark was probably the high point of this story.

The second story, Panic on the Streets of London, featured Stark time traveling to a Great Britain where superheroes are being carted off to internment camps, the economy is in the gutter and the country is the grips of massive paranoia. Captain Britain (he exists? I couldn’t believe it) reluctantly assists Tony Stark in his struggle to get all the missing piece to a time machine in order to prevent the evil Dr. Birch from his evil plan. Or something like that. I was more focused on Stark’s constant existential ponderings, which seemed to take up the entire issue. For example, if you are given the chance to change the past, would you do anything or refuse, for fear of changing the future for the worse? Okay, we get this moment in every time travel story. Nothing new or very alarming but nonetheless, a solid, entertaining read.

The art in this issue was very different to want I’m used to in comics. Oliver gave the issue an almost watercolor feel to it, albeit very drab and muddy watercolor since it was rainy, corrupt London. Still, I found the art very expressive and a delight after so much mediocre, traditional comic book art. I hope to read more of The Iron Age series, though I do hope Stark does manage to get over himself soon enough.

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