11.16.2005

Do The Basics Well

Iron Man #1-4 (Marvel): "A super-soldier biological compiler" being sold to militants on the open market. I love Warren Ellis! I love what he's doing with Iron Man; we really never have seen anything like this before with Tony Stark. What a different, original take on a classic character. The intrigue slowly unfolds in a very engaging manner, the characters are really talking to each other while we listen in, instead of talking *at* the audience.

Ellis also uses the Iron Man armor very sparingly, reserving it for appearances that we can truly savor due to their scarcity. When the armor is on screen, it seems so realistic. How would a real man wearing this suit act? How would a real weapons system display interact with the user? Would a real person like Tony be cautious with its usage, the interaction with police, and the heads up call to the Avengers? Wouldn't something as basic as the phone protocol into the Avengers be just that secure and intricate? Yes, I think it would!

Important to note that he's just Iron Man here, not the Invincible Iron Man. You can hurt this guy. And the altercation happens so quickly, life or death in an instant. I literally winced in pain when I saw the damage that had been inflicted to Tony's hand and leg underneath the armor. I'm really eating up the way Ellis is portraying the character as being quite vulnerable and still working out some problems with different iterations of the suit.

Yet again, Ellis applies his classic science fiction sensibility to another high concept. He understands that engaging sci-fi begins not with tech toys or lush CGI, but with an interesting core premise. What if a rich industrialist had an ultra high tech suit of armor? What would he be compelled to do? What would this world feel like?

I’m thoroughly enjoying him fleshing out a believable corner of the Marvel U inhabited by his distinct version of Iron Man. Small things like the explanation of how the repulsor beams work just go to show that the devil is in the details. Adi Granov's art is also "beautifully dirty" for lack of a better term. Blending the smooth, soft lines of John Cassaday with the lived in feel of Christian Gossett's masterpiece The Red Star. The result brilliantly captures the dichotomy of high technology ideas with very base motivations. Excellent panel to panel storytelling.

I'm afraid that with all of the tomfoolery going on in the Marvel U right now, not to mention this title's lackluster publishing schedule, this book will be overlooked as a real hidden gem. Perhaps the most grounded superhero comic around. Grade A-.

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