Iron Man #1-5
Tony Stark is looking to restart his engine. He decides he’s going back to basics, putting away his high-tech toys and high-profile image so he can get his hands dirty again. It’s time to dig into the guts of real machines, put on some old-fashioned metal and fly. But can he really lay that Stark-sized ego down? Life isn’t that simple, something that old friends and frustrating foes are quick to point out. If you strip down a billionaire to his bolts, does he run solid or just overheat? Tony’s going to find out once a threat to the entire universe rears its head from the past. As he suits up again, Tony remains sure of one thing: he’s still IRON MAN down to his flesh and blood core.
Iron Man is BACK from the exciting creative combo Christopher Cantwell and Cafu with D’Armata on colors and Caramagna on letters, returning the character back to his roots and showing what it really means to be a superhero with all of the conflict, friendships and so much more it brings. The first arc, titled BIG IRON which makes up what is titled the First Book of Korvac, is a welcome return to form for Tony Stark that packs an undeniable punch.
We kicked off the series with a vision of Tony Stark that was removed from the glitz and glamor surrounding his wealthy lifestyle. Tony has been through so much, having been reborn into a newly cloned body recently along with so much more (go check out Iron Man 2020), and is struggling to find his place with who he is as Iron Man. He’s street racing and even fighting in the ring, seemingly lost in an introspective reflection that truly comes to define Tony’s classic approach of overthinking matters. He’s questioning whether he is just metal or actually flesh and blood, and this drives him to a surprising relationship with none other than Patsy Walker aka Hellcat.
For a fresh take on Iron Man and following Iron Man 2020, I have to say I was surprised to see this direction from the creative team. Cafu’s artwork gives the world of Tony Stark a unique aesthetic, showing a more grounded approach than you often see surrounding Iron Man, but that begins to feel right at home as we see Patsy’s involvement increase and Tony’s own feelings as the arc continues. Some may feel that her importance detracts from the focus on Tony himself, but by the time we reach the end of issue #5 I felt comfortable in saying her presence brings out exactly what this series seeks to do in going back to the basics. There is an underlying crisis that Tony is going through that feels reminiscent of the Demon in a Bottle 1979 classic where Bethany Cabe is forced to cut through everything and be straight with Tony. Making him self reflect just a little more and find the direction that he needs by getting sober. In this new series, it oftentimes feels like Patsy Walker has stepped into Beth’s role and forces him to once again reflect on who he is and the direction he needs.
Patsy brings a straightforward and no nonsense approach that slices right through Tony’s sometimes overly complicated thought processes and this contrast allows us to get right inside Tony’s thinking, showing sides that are difficult to explore when confronted with ego. The series does a great job of returning the focus to a character driven narrative on who Tony is, putting aside the consequences of his own creations, society’s perception of him and the always looming impacts of his role in the greater Marvel Universe. Here, the creative team is allowed to take a closer look at Iron Man in a more traditional superhero role and the comics soar under this freedom. Cheesy to say, but it’s the honest truth.
Cantwell does more than just return Tony back to the basics though, there is also a return to the classics that longtime fans of the character are sure to be intrigued by. With Korvac’s involvement, there was bound to be some hard feelings involved, and while there are a few jokes to ease the tension at the right times, it’s the perfect time to bring back the basics that made Iron Man who he is. Korvac represents so much more than the Earth-threatening villain he is in this first arc of the new Iron Man series, he is a reminder of what’s come in the past and also a reminder of what Tony does best in stopping villains.
And there are plenty of villains. The classics keep coming from the rather comical Unicorn to Blizzard and Controller, all working beneath Korvac helping him to potentially acquire the power to storm TAA II and maybe even take on Galactus. It’s a blast from the past that honestly had me opening up Marvel Unlimited to catch up on some classics. A successful return to form for a character with such a rich history like Iron Man can’t just be built on new readers, though it is undoubtedly important, there also has to be a respect for what made the character so timeless. The first arc of Iron Man shows this creative team has an understanding of both, laying out a strong and easily approachable vision of Iron Man while building on his past to push the character in an interesting new direction.
Unfortunately for Stark, the direction right now seems to be heartache, pushing him deeper into his role as a superhero. The first arc has a tough to swallow cliffhanger that capitalizes on all of the relationships established so far and emphasizes Tony’s emotional growth as well. His budding fling with Patsy pushes him to do as much as he can, but even an unlikely team around him like Misty Knight, Scarlet Spider and more can’t keep him from the pain that Korvac brings. It’s this very real breakdown of Tony’s expectations of himself and what he can accomplish when leading that puts into context what the series is all about. Tony has dealt with a lot of trauma but still holds confidence, and this has arguably pushed him into the arms of Patsy who will tell him how it honestly and to a team that was hardly qualified, and the results are intense to say the least.
While this is a thrilling first arc that delivers dramatic twists and a cliffhanger sure to pull you back in for more, Cafu’s art and D’Armata’s colors make every issue a visual treat. The influence that Hellcat brings into shaping Tony’s current world is noticeable and it feels natural for Iron Man. The tone isn’t overtly sci-fi, but rather classic superhero and that feels like a great fit for where the character is at right now. Everything about the execution, including Caramagna’s spot on letters, all coalesce into helping to tell this story and strike at the heart of the basics that drive Iron Man.
The First Book of Korvac isn’t a self contained story, as this ongoing series continues we are sure to learn more about what Korvac can do and what hopes Tony has in stopping him, but the duel is set, the stakes are clear and the loss that Tony faces is very real. It’s sure to push him in a way that as a reader, I am very excited for. Fans of Iron Man who haven’t been following this new series, it’s a great time to catch up before we follow up on the cliffhanger of issue #5. The story is fresh and engaging, great for new readers and builds on the longstanding legacy of the character in an interesting way. Just five issues in and it’s easy to see that this Iron Man series is one to keep up with!
Plus the gorgeous covers by the one and only Alex Ross can’t hurt, right?
The First Book of Korvac in Iron Man #1-5 is a refreshing return to form the character with a clear respect for legacy, giving readers an emotionally charged story with real consequences and plenty of action!
Iron Man #1-5: The First Book of Korvac – BIG IRON
Writing - 9/109/10
Storyline - 8.5/108.5/10
Art - 9/109/10
Color - 9/109/10
Cover Art - 9.5/109.5/10
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