“Because now I am proud of you.”
Hey, hey. This is D.C. here. I’m up to my ears in comics (preorders are good, but costly in time-management), but I had a hankerin’ to throw down on Marvel’s Infamous Iron Man.
With all the divisiveness over Riri Williams taking on the role of Ironheart and the erroneous belief that she is Iron Man, we have one Victor Von Doom, a new man from his experiences in Secret Wars, looking to make himself a better man by being Iron Man. With the kind of baggage and history Doom’s had, you can imagine he’s got his work cut out for him.
The first few issues of Infamous Iron Man had me intrigued. There’s something interesting about a reformation story, especially one involving a man like Doctor Doom. How will he succeed? How will he fail? Brian Michael Bendis took Von Doom on a very interesting, yet low-key, start to his journey. Alex Maleev’s art adds a dark, gothic feel to the armored sorcerer.
At least in the beginning.
Throughout the first issues, I was stil unclear as to why exactly Doom is targeting the other scientific villains, many of whom he felt a kinship to, as men who have squandered their talents. I doubt he killed any of them since–as always–a death unseen in comics is a death undone. Is Doom merely capturing them? Who can say? With Bendis’ lack of depth and introspection of Doom, it is hard to tell where he goes.
In Infamous Iron Man #5, Bendis adds a major kink in Doom’s path by reintroducing Cynthia Von Doom, Victor’s not-so dead mother. Why such a big thing is introduced in the middle of a vague redemption story isn’t entirely clear. Kay read this as well, and she felt that Bendis is throwing in too many different elements at once–Doom’s nascent heroism, the circumstances of Cynthia Von Doom’s return, why the events of Doctor Strange don’t seem to affect either Von Doom’s access to magic, the Maker, S.H.I.E.L.D.’s intentions with the conflict in Latveria, Amara Perera’s roles. I fear all this will muddy the overall storyline if too few things are brought in and unresolved.
While Maleev’s art still excels, one thing threw me off during the reunion fight between Doom and his mother: Why are Cynthia’s spells written with Greek letters and hiragana? Did they think that no one would catch that? Looking below on the top panel, and the hiragana don’t seem to mean anything; nor did the Greek letters. Maleev would’ve been better off making up his own glyphs for magical spells…
(However, if anyone can read Japanese, feel free to prove me wrong. Please.)
The big reveal of the Maker (the villainous Reed Richards of Earth-1610) at the end of the issue adds even more questions than perhaps was needed in this series, least of all is his relation to Cynthia Von Doom and his plans against the new Iron Man.
With Infamous Iron Man, I have the same problem I’ve had with Bendis’ other series, Invincible Iron Man. Bendis’ writing is much too sparse when writing Doom. Are we to assume that a man, a thinker, a genius like Victor Von Doom, doesn’t have a million thoughts of his path? That he doesn’t wrestle with his darker impulses, the desires he’s acted upon for some 50 years? Is he supposed to be the relatively quiet type, and we’re supposed to just go along for the ride as if that is sufficient?
I would appreciate knowing more about what’s going on in Doom’s head, especially how he sees himself and those who damn his attempts at heroism at every turn. And while Alex Maleev’s art is superb, it doesn’t suffice when words are lacking. Action can only carry a book so far. Bendis really needs to work on this in the issues to come, or I can’t see myself staying along for Doom’s rise…or his fall.
“This is life-or-death stuff you’re training for…and I’m not messing around.”
Well, into this new year, and the fictional world is still erupting in craziness. Real life, too, but that’s neither here nor there. It’s time to throw down!
First off, picking up from Kay’s praise of the first issue, is Marvel’s Invincible Iron Man #2.
This issue continues the saga of Riri Williams, the newest contender (or pretender, depending on who you talk to) to the legacy of Tony Stark. What Brian Michael Bendis excels at here is telling a simple story. Simply put: Riri undergoes rigorous training with her Tony Stark-based A.I. system.
I was charmed to see a hero who is both intelligent, but understandably incompetent. Riri has no idea how to think on her feet in the heat of battle, but she manages a victory by the seat of her pants. She was inelegant, clumsy, and hardly what one would see as a “badass heroine,” but she got the work done the only way she knew how. Riri obviously has much to her learn,but her potential was made very clear in a very good way.
Building on the highlight of this issue was Bendis’ continued intersection of Riri’s background with her present activities. After the events of last issue, we learn the emotional hardships death has had in both Riri’s and her mother’s lives. I was almost disturbed by Riri’s questioning the doctor regarding both her stepfather and her friend’s deaths, but in a good way. It shows that Riri has depths of her personality we have yet to experience…depths that, at her age, could easily lead her to one side or the other of heroism. Near the flashback’s end, we get a simple television clip that shows Riri’s inspiration. We see what has happened in her past and her present, but Bendis is clearly building the in-between, and just how she comes to her first appearance.
Well done, Bendis.
Artist Stefano Caselli and colorist Marte Garcia continue to work their magic to make a commendable issue on a fledgling hero. The times we see Riri’s face is where Caselli excels at emoting our protagonist. She is both stoic, confused and pained, all at once in the flashback. It works so well.
I have a strong personal opinion that captions can enhance a story in many ways. It may be seen as an archaic and dying practice, but captions can aid in the reader understanding who the character is more than just what we see them do.
I feel that the absence of captions in Bendis’ work was a true detriment this time around. While I enjoyed this issue, I feel that there was a missed opportunity to truly understand Riri when it mattered most: during her training and to intersect her thoughts now with the flashback. We see much of Riri’s actions, but what about her feelings, her thoughts, her rage? For a character no one really knows about, I think she could’ve been cared about even more if Bendis were to dig into his character, to throw out those emotions to the reader.
Like I said, i think it was truly a missed opportunity to elevate an otherwise good story.
Invincible Iron Man #2 continues to pump up Riri at a good pace. Bendis wrote a great and sufficient tale of Riri’s struggles as a hero, only made better by the art by Caselli and Garcia. I do believe that Bendis really dropped the ball at the chance to provide greater depth to Riri, but the story still served to set up both the protagonist’s capabilities and the potential rogues gallery to come. I look forward to what comes next, and what improvements Bendis may bring. And I hope you do, too.
Hey, all, D.C. here. I’ve spent so much time reading and so little writing, that I think I will throwdown in a different way with quick reviews on some of my reads to play catch-up.
Book of Death
Valiant’s 2015 event Book of Death picks up some time after The Valiant storyline. This time around, a new Geomancer is being manipulated by one of Valiant’s most enduring villains in an effort tear the world asunder. Gilad Anni-Padda, the Eternal Warrior and Tama, a time-displaced Geomancer, race to stop the catastrophic events detailed in Tama’s Book of the Geomancers from coming to pass. Of course, the Eternal Warrior’s allies in Unity believe Tama is the cause of dozens of murders, and seek to put her and Gilad down.
Like The Valiant, Book of Death is a very quick read, with Robert Venditti using the members of Unity pretty nicely. Venditti does not waste time and paper in this book, such as Eternal Warrior handing his allies their asses in entertaining fashion. It is pleasing to see an isolated tale that simply cranks out the story while maintaining sufficient (and sometimes compelling) interactions between the warring protagonists and antagonist.
Robert Gill’s art is nothing particularly special in my eyes, but his appropriate facial expressions, body language, and gestures are an adequate job. This is focused well on a rough and desperate Gilad Anni-Padda, who is driven to prevent further failure of his duty. The ending was written just as simply with satisfaction and finality. It twists the fate of an immortal warrior on its head, but also sets the tone for the follow-up series, Wrath of the Eternal Warrior.
Cyborg, Vol. 1: Unplugged
I finally decided to crank out DC’s Cyborg, Vol. 1: Unplugged. David F. Walker does a good job focusing on the thoughts and insecurities of Cyborg in the New 52, and one of–in my eyes–seriously intelligent black characters in comics.
Walker adequately delved into the layers of Victor Stone: his friendships and rivalries; his superheroic identity, his internal conflict about how he sees himself and how he is viewed by others; his dysfunctional upbringing…and how they all serve to evolve Cyborg, literally and figuratively.
It was good to see Cyborg in his own element, and in his hometown, interacting with people only he would know. I thought some parts of Walker’s portrayal came off as silly, but that might have been an intentional show of Cyborg’s crass and non-very humorous sense of humor. Not everyone can be very funny, right?
Ivan Reis primarily does the art for this first volume, and he does a great job presenting smooth and detailed art. Reis shows wonderfully intricate detail to the cybernetics on Cyborg and his antagonists.
I don’t get to read many black-centric comic characters, and this was one that did a character like Cyborg some justice.
Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: Reboot
Marvel’s flagship All-New, All-Different Marvel title was something I was waiting to tackle. Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: Reboot delves right into Tony Stark’s attempts to reinvent himself after a mid-life crisis style…crisis…when his ingenuity is questioned and challenged.
I enjoyed the new cast in Invincible Iron Man. For the most part. David Marquez’s art is great. He draws a new, vivaciously intelligent woman in Stark’s life who challenges his bravado in big ways. Dr. Doom’s return post-Secret Wars was portrayed very well, yet there is still much mystery as to Doom’s motivations and machinations. Madame Masque’s unmitigated insanity is always a pleasure to read.
What really started soured this experience, though, was Brian Michael Bendis’ portrayal of Iron Man. It seemed obvious, to me, that Bendis was trying much too hard to capitalize on the Marvel Cinematic Universe films and trying to invoke Robert Downey, Jr.too much. The comedy quickly lost its luster. Much of the story arc was honestly forget to me, aside from Madame Masque, so I think Bendis needs to find a spark that will give weight to this book.
Mary Jane Watson’s inclusion in Invincible Iron Man is of no problem to me. I have always believed that characters don’t “belong” in a particular book, and that they can find a place in any place, in any book, with the right reasons and writer. It changes the dynamics. And you can see the dynamics start to shift for both MJ and Iron Man. The curse of continuity changes reared its ugly head when Tony introduced himself to MJ. How is it that they don’t know one another when Spider-Man was an Avenger, when MJ lived in Stark Tower for a time? Even after Spider-Man’s One More Day storyline, there should be no reason these two would introduce themselves. And that moment soured the experience even more.
Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1 has much to offer, but it also leaves much to be desired. I hope Bendis and polish his portrayal of Iron Man without trying to copy-paste Robert Downey, Jr. on paper. If I wanted that, I’d save money and watch the MCU films.
Hm…three quick reviews? There will be more to come. Tune in next time, folks.