Graphic Novel Review: Invincible Iron Man: The War Machines

Invincible Iron Man: The War Machines

Invincible Iron Man: The War Machines - Credit: Archant

Something is not right in the house of Stark, and Tony must delve into the nooks and crannies of his international organisation to find out what. Plus: The first big clues of the first major event for the all-new Marvel Universe!

(Panini Books)

For the first couple of issues collected in this book, there was an uncomfortable feeling of treading water, a narrative procrastination following the events of the preceding volume. Then all of a sudden things stepped up a gear, and with it came a realisation that we may just be witnessing the initial steps towards the final fall of Tony Stark.

If this is indeed the case, then it won’t be the first time that Stark has lost everything: in the past we have seen him become an alcoholic vagrant, a pawn of Kang who sacrificed his life in order to give his teenage self the chance to live in his place, an outlaw from the US government, paralysed by ex-lover and forced into suspended animation to survive, and undergoing a complete reboot of his mind to purge it of information absorbed when he was director of SHIELD. Not bad for a playboy inventor who gets his kicks running around in a high-tech suit of armour.

But this time seems… different. As if the pieces are being moved into place without Stark being able to do anything about it, as he finds himself teaming up with Spider-Man in Tokyo following the disappearance of his best friend Jim Rhodes, aka War Machine, and is then forced to go deep undercover in order to discover the secrets of the so-called Techno Golem, an Inhuman gifted with the ability to control any technology by thoughts alone.

Back in the States, shares in Stark Industries go into freefall following the disappearance of the company’s CEO, and as the board prepares for a hostile takeover, can former super model and ex-Spider-flame Mary Jane Watson do anything to save the situation?

With a lead character unmistakably based on Robert Downey Jr’s movie interpretation of Stark (perfect for artist Mike Deodato, who uses photographic references all the time), and a writer renowned for his all-too-clever dialogue, the combination of the two can at times prove too smug to handle, and you need the more grounded involvement of the supporting cast to act as relief from all the wisecracking and backslapping.

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That said, I’m certainly enjoying the direction this series is taking, with the introduction of a maskless and apparently reformed Victor Von Doom stirring things up further, but Bendis really needs to get a handle on the former FF villain’s dialogue, which jars substantially with his former pattern of speech.

Once again, Civil War II beckons, and the status quo of this book is expected to see a substantial shake-up, but at least on this occasion you get the impression that it’s Bendis in the driving seat rather than Marvel’s senior editors.