Graphic Novel Review: Tony Stark, Iron Man: Self-Made Man

Tony Stark, Iron Man: Self-Made Man

Tony Stark, Iron Man: Self-Made Man - Credit: Archant

(Panini Books)

He’s used to crafting an array of armoured exo-skeletons with increasingly advanced technology, but this time round Tony Stark has rebooted his entire body from the ground up after suffering near mortal injuries in Civil War II.

After rebranding his company as Stark Unlimited, Tony recruits the most innovative forward-thinkers in the world to join him, with the aim of pushing the boundaries of science in new and exciting directions.

But even as his team beta-test the revolutionary new virtual world of eScape, there are forces behind the scenes working to bring about Stark’s downfall, including the deadly Controller…

Having previously established science-based companies populated by a diverse mix of employees during his Spider-Man run, new writer Dan Slott continues this set-up by establishing the fascinating team working at Stark Unlimited.

These include the likes of former Avenger Jocasta, now working as chief robotic ethicist and his resurrected best buddy James Rhodes, operating as military liaison and still traumatised by the events behind his recent death at the hands of Thanos, or the welcome return of Tony’s genius brother Arno Stark. And stepping into the role of Stark’s chief business rival is Sunset Bain, who long-term Marvel readers will know from her appearances in the Machine Man series.

It’s not all corporate wheeler-dealing either, as there’s plenty of Iron Man action from the outset, not least of which in a showdown with the giant dragon Fin Fang Foom, and romance in the form of original Wasp Janet Van Dyne. In fact, coming in the wake of Brian Michael Bendis’ lacklustre run this marks an exceptional return to form for the Armoured Avenger, with Slott showing an affinity for the character and his world few other writers can successfully pull off.

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The underlying themes here are identity, whether its robot rights or Stark and Rhodes’ second chance at life following their recent returns from the dead, but Slott never hammers home any message and allows his story to naturally breathe through his broad mix of characters. It’s also a team book, as expressed by Tony’s new vision statement: “We are Iron Man.” Instead of a hero flying solo, it’s an idea which is shared between his colleagues, and that is very much the driving force behind this series.

The artistic team of Valerio Schiti, Joe Caramagna and Edgar Delgado bring a realism to the fantastical which this sort of title needs, and alongside Slott admirably capture the nuances and quirks which make Tony Stark such a unique superhero.

The future is here. The future is Stark.