Iron Man #23 (Comics Review)

When Marvel launched its Marvel NOW! reboot in September 2012, I tried to get on board with the new Iron Man. I love the character and I wanted to translate that into reading the comics featuring him. But, I gave up with the first issue itself. The story was incredibly complex and confusing. I understood none of it. And for more than a year and a half, I ignored the series. Then I heard that a new arc was starting soon, and that it was going to be a sort of a major deal, so I decided to ignore my frustrations and see if I could get back into the series or not.

Going by this past week’s Iron Man #23, I have to say that the signs are incredibly discouraging. Kieron Gillen was decent enough on his Young Avengers and his Dark Angel one-shot for Marvel UK’s Revolutionary War event (review) was passable too. But, this issue is nothing of the sort, not by a long mile. The art by Luke Cross and Guru-eFX is decent, but its not particularly noteworthy. All in all, Iron Man #23 is pretty mediocre. Read on to see why.

Iron Man 23In this new arc, Iron Man is pitted against one of Thor’s greatest villains, Malekith the Accursed. If I understand it correctly, Iron Man’s own signature villain Mandarin is now dead and the rings that he used to wear are now looking for new bearers. It is all very Green Lantern style. One ring finds itself in Svartalfheim somehow (which is never explained), and Malekith possesses it, and begins hunting other ring bearers even as Iron Man investigates who is behind these murders. In the end, Iron Man has to go up against Malekith, which could be a fun moment, but we have to wait till the next issue.

The opening of the issue is one of the weirdest openings that I’ve read to date. It is a third-person summary of who and what the Dark Elves are, and what kind of a leader Malekith is. Thing is, it is very confusing, and the entire setup makes very little sense. I get what Gillen is going for here, but I don’t really understand it, which is a huge difference. And this feeling of confusion continues on till the end of the issue, because Gillen’s writing is pretty much all over the place really.

Even just generally, given how much Gillen’s script jumps all over the place, I had a hard time following anything.

Though I must say that I liked the inclusion of the British superhero Shevaun aka Dark Angel in this story. It is a fitting cameo since Gillen wrote her recent one-shot for Revolutionary War and Gillen certainly gives her a great outing. But the dialogue was never quite on point and that is what I resent more. In fact, I enjoyed Dark Angel less in this issue than I did in her own issue.

Gillen’s characterisation of Tony Stark was pretty much on point, and I liked what he did here. He also gave a nice summation of the previous year of Tony’s life, and that I found to be very welcome. But, Malekith himself never really makes much of an impact on the story. He is mostly in the background and he does his work behind the scenes. Even when there is a scene involving both him and Iron Man halfway through the issue, there is a distinct lack of tension and anticipation because nothing actually happens.

For the art, we have Luke Cross on the pencils with Guru-eFX doing the colours. Cross’ pencils are decent, but his action scenes never really seem convincing, largely because his figurework is very stiff. He often poses his characters a certain way, and there is a distinct sense of kineticness missing in those scenes. His characters often look like (completely inert) statues. Nothing all that life-life about them, which is a shame. However, the colours are much better and there are some nice contrasts in every panel. And I do dig Tony’s current suit, which is totally different from his classic red-yellow hot-rod look, as popularised by the movies.

Overall, I’m still not convinced with this issue. The writing and the art just don’t work for me as I expected them to. Which is a shame really. But, least I can say is that I’m indeed motivated to read the next issue, so we’ll see how things go.

Rating: 5/10

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Posted on March 25, 2014, in Comics Reviews, Review Central and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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