Saturday, 21 December 2013

Iron Man, Volume 2: The Secret Origin of Tony Stark, Book 1 Review (Kieron Gillen, Greg Land)

With a new Iron Man armour, a new AI - PEPPER - and a new sense of dissatisfaction following the realisation of mankind’s potential and how far they are from achieving it, Tony Stark has left Earth behind and headed out into the cosmos. In this book, Tony faces an alien court of justice following the death of the Phoenix Force, and then learns some shocking truths about his parentage.

Kieron Gillen’s first Iron Man book was very tedious as each issue showed Tony trying out a new armour. This episodic structure led to a very disjointed reading experience. And then there was Greg Land’s artwork… Land might be the worst artist working at Marvel today. He made Tony look Mongolian for goodness sake! He’s still here though.

The second book is less choppy but unfortunately no better. The first story arc - Godkiller (in no way related to the Jason Aaron Thor/ God Butcher storyline, but what is it about killing gods at Marvel?!) - has a distinctly Star Wars flavour to it. Tony’s first in an alien bar hitting on an alien princess, then gets arrested for killing the Phoenix (see Avengers Vs X-Men - or don’t, it was terrible! And it wasn’t even Tony who did the deed, it was Scarlet Witch and Hope!). He has to fight a series of alien gladiators in an extended Luke Skywalker/Rancor sequence that isn’t in any way as exciting as the Return of the Jedi scene. And then there’s Greg Land’s art, which hasn’t improved either.

The second story arc is more promising, if only for Dale Eaglesham taking over the art. Tony is hot on the trail of evil genocidal robot 451 who reveals to him a deal he made years ago with his dad, Howard Stark. 451 is actually a pretty good villain who doesn’t follow the usual bad guy features of menacing appearance and constant evil rhetoric. He kills literally hundreds of thousands yet seems somewhat sympathetic - an amazing feat from Gillen.

The story itself, the first part of The Secret Origin of Tony Stark? Not so good. It’s basically Ocean’s 11 but way more rushed and barely interesting. Back in the 60s, Howard Stark assembles a team to rip off a Vegas casino run by Greys (the quintessential alien template). Another movie reference stuck out in the character of the alien Rollo, who betrays his fellow Greys and looks/acts/talks just like Fredo in The Godfather!

So that’s the second volume of Gillen’s Iron Man: derivative and uninspired. He riffed on a number of popular movie plots and characters that didn’t work well here and fashioned an altogether forgettable and boring book. Check out Gillen’s sublime Young Avengers to see why this dude keeps getting work. 

Iron Man - Volume 2: The Secret Origin of Tony Stark - Book 1

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