First up, Iron Man!
This is a title that I really want to like, but I’m afraid that Kieron Gillen’s story just isn’t doing it for me. As I’ve said in the past, there are some fantastic story elements going on; I love the inclusion of Tony’s brother Arno Stark. Readers in the know realize that Arno is destined to become Iron Man 2020 (an 80’s villain with a distinctive look). One of the newer issues even had Arno controlling a massive suit of armor complete with the gear-shaped shoulder pads, Iron Man 2020’s most distinctive feature.
I also really love Gillen’s use of the Mandarin’s rings. Instead of a bunch of focuses for one character, Gillen has given each ring sentience and a personality. One of my favorite recent scenes was the virtual meeting where the rings met and discussed their current hosts. This leads to a bit of a “Green Lantern” vibe as the different rings seek out personalities that mesh well with the ring’s characteristics, but it does make for some nice visuals.
I also appreciate that even when a recent issue tied in to the totally uninteresting Inhumanity, Gillen still delivered a book that focused on its regular ongoing story and didn’t lose focus.
So in a book with all these positives, why am I not more engaged? I’m not sure. I think the pacing is off. It seems like not a whole lot has changed or developed since we first saw Tony and Arno decide to partner up. The whole Mandarin City story ended up being a six-issue exercise in wheel-spinning.
I wanted Iron Man to get back to more Earth-bound stories, and Gillen delivered that. Now I wonder if I need an issue or two of “classic” Iron Man style stories. The first 5 issues of this volume are still my favorite; done-in-one issues with classic (or classic feeling) villains made the book feel like it was moving along. Maybe we could get some Spymaster? Or a Stane or a Hammer? I’ve already forgotten the names of the ring bearers who plagued Iron Man during this story.
Joe Bennett’s art has been fine, but not anything breathtaking. The GL-style pencils I mentioned above looked perfectly normal, since Bennett pretty much epitomizes the current DCU house style. I wish I loved the art more, especially since I like this current black and gold armor so much.
I’m keeping this on the sublist for now, but man, this FAIR comic is on the lower tier of my sublist for sure.
SAFE (for now)