Graphic Novel Review: Superior Iron Man: Infamous

Superior Iron Man: Infamous

Superior Iron Man: Infamous - Credit: Archant

It’s time for a new Tony Stark world, and this time he’s dialled the arrogance up to “11”...

(Panini Books)

So we all know Tony Stark: smug, arrogant, a reformed alcoholic, something of a playboy, but also the invincible Iron Man, superhero adventurer and a scientific genius whose futurist philosophy has made him one of the richest men in the world.

Now take those elements and exaggerate the darker side to Stark’s psyche, and what we are left with is someone whose motivations are closer to villain than hero.

Following the events of Axis, in which a handful of costumed individuals were left with diametrically opposed personalities as a result of a chaos-spell gone wrong, Tony has set himself up in San Francisco and is using the city to trial his new version of the bioengineered Extremis process.

Whereas in the past this was a means of turning human beings into superpowered weapons of mass destruction, this time Stark has altered it to transform people into the very pinnacle of beauty and physicality.

As the overweight, the less attractive or the just plain obsessive become hooked on their new bodies beautiful, Tony pulls the plug on the Extremis process, and introduces a daily price for maintaining people’s new looks, prompting a crime wave of desperate addicts trying to find the cash to keep their perfect forms…

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Enter Daredevil, aka the blind lawyer Matt Murdock, who is less than impressed with the so-called Superior Iron Man, and is determined to bring Stark to account for his thoughtless actions. But he reckoned without becoming a victim of the Extremis process himself, and regaining the sight he lost as a child…

As a game-changer, this storyline ranks alongside Tony’s fall into alcoholism and replacement as Iron Man by James Rhodes, it really is that far-reaching. There have been various attempts to revitalise the character over the decades, particularly since the popularity of the recent movies starring Robert Downey Jr, but all of those changes have stuck to the essential character of Tony Stark, whereas this series warps his persona to produce someone totally unpredictable, and all the more fascinating as a result.

Of course, there’s every possibility that we’ll eventually see the return of the Tony we know and love, as storylines of this nature have, by design, a finite duration, but it’s going to be one helluva ride in the meantime.