Sunday, 10 July 2016

Iron Man: Industrial Revolution Review (Fred Van Lente, Steve Kurth)

Iron Man Legacy was a short-lived series that explored earlier episodes in Tony Stark’s life, usually involving retcon craziness. This 2011 book, Industrial Revolution, is set in 1984 when Tony was apparently broke and living on the streets of LA, but also features the villains of 2003’s Runaways, The Pride, as well as 2005’s Illuminati – so simple! …

The story is no great shakes though. Most of the book is watching Tony try to start a small business in an impoverished area of LA… which sounds as exciting to read as it is! This being the early ‘80s, people still think Iron Man is Tony Stark’s bodyguard and Steve Kurth draws the classic Iron Man armour so there’s a nostalgic element for fans of older Marvel comics. 

The Pride definitely come off as more brutal than they originally did in Brian K. Vaughan/Adrian Alphona’s Runaways making them a more viable threat to Iron Man. It’s interesting to read a Marvel comic so focused on social issues like poverty and mental health with a schizophrenic supporting character being put centre stage next to Tony – kudos to Fred Van Lente for writing that character as realistically as he could. Kurth’s grounded art style complements the material well too. 

Almost to make up for the street-level treatment of Iron Man for most of the book, Van Lente nearly overdoses the narrative on superhero shenanigans for the book’s finale which gives the story this strange imbalance like it doesn’t fit having things end that way. 

At any rate, and it’s the shallowest of critiques, but Industrial Revolution wasn’t that interesting a book. Watching Tony start a business was pretty blah for the most part and the superhero action at the end felt tacked on. I appreciate the more human version of Tony (don’t expect RDJ-type characterisation) and it’s more socially aware than the usual Marvel comic but Iron Man: Industrial Revolution is still just an average read.

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