Graphic Novel Review: International Iron Man

International Iron Man

International Iron Man - Credit: Archant

Who is Tony Stark, really? Since learning that he was adopted as a baby, this question has cast a shadow over Stark’s life. Now, it is time to uncover what his legacy truly is, a journey that will carry Tony into new directions as a man and as a superhero. Alongside his strange new quasi-ally Doctor Doom, Iron Man will discover new things about the Marvel Universe he didn’t know existed before!

(Panini Books)

It’s one of the great traditions of narrative fiction that the identities of a character’s long-lost or long-dead parents have to be revealed as major players in the past – so Peter Parker’s mum and dad were agents of SHIELD, Harry Potter’s folks were linked to his lifelong battle with Voldemort, and Superman’s parents were doom-mongers who warned about the destruction of Krypton.

So on the one hand you have to give Brian Michael Bendis some kudos for not going down the obvious path when revealing the mother and father of Tony (Iron Man) Stark and making him the offspring of Nick Fury and Agent Peggy Carter, for example, but by creating his own parents he cannot avoid the sense of disappointment which comes with the revelation of their identities.

There may be a degree of intrigue surrounding the history of Tony’s ma and pa, which this reviewer hopes will be explored further in future issues, but at the end of the day there’s really nothing special about either of them. But maybe that’s the point?

How did these two individuals create the genius futurist who devised the Iron Man armour, and is widely considered one of the most intelligent people on the planet? Is there more to his conception than meets the eye, or was it just a question of combining the right genes?

Tony’s quest for answers to his origins are tied up with flashbacks to his days at Oxford University, which Bendis seems to think is located in central London, with a students’ union populated by West Ham supporters. This insulting lack of research on the writer’s part is not only a snub to British readers, but throws doubts over his scripting in general. How much effort would it have taken to get these details correct? Very little, one would argue.

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Unfortunately this slapdash approach seems to sum up this entire volume, which pales in comparison to Bendis’ other Stark series, Invincible Iron Man, despite seeing him reunited with former Daredevil artist Alex Maleev.

There just isn’t enough going on to justify a second title starring the armoured Avenger, and although the events of Civil War II are going to substantially shake up the status quo going forwards, there’s a feeling that this book is just going through its paces until that event reaches its conclusion.