Graphic Novel Review: Iron Man - Infamous and Invincible

PUBLISHED: 17:10 20 July 2017

Infamous Iron Man: Infamous

Infamous Iron Man: Infamous

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Tony Stark is replaced by two new armoured heroes in Infamous Iron Man: Infamous and Invincible Iron Man: Ironheart.

Invincible Iron Man: IronheartInvincible Iron Man: Ironheart

(Panini Books)

Ousting Tony Stark from his role as Iron Man and replacing him with both a reformed supervillain and teen genius seems a bizarre decision when you’ve barely scratched the surface of the character’s potential, but perhaps incoming writer Brian Michael Bendis has a long-term game plan when it comes to scripting the adventures of the armoured Avenger?

His short-lived Stark run saw the futurist’s downfall alongside the events of Civil War II, and whereas this might allow Bendis to introduce his own interpretations of Iron Man, you can’t help asking why he didn’t just create his own new characters and leave Tony well alone?

Victor Von Doom, the former ruler of Latvaria and one of the deadliest men on the planet, has turned over a new leaf. Thanks to the reality-warping activities of his long-term adversary Reed Richards at the culmination of the recent Secret Wars, his facial scars are healed, and he has been given a new outlook on the world.

No longer operating under the nom de guerre of Doctor Doom, with all of its megalomaniacal associations, Victor is inspired by the fallen Stark to become a new breed of “infamous” Iron Man, and embarks on a mission to establish a worthy legacy in his name, which includes taking out former allies Diablo and the Mad Thinker.

Unfortunately, as you might expect, not many people are buying Doom’s change of heart, including the likes of Ben Grimm, aka former Fantastic Four member the Thing, who is tasked by SHIELD to capture his one-time arch enemy. Escaping to the ruined Castle Doom in Latveria, with Grimm in hot pursuit, Victor finds himself face-to-face with his long-dead mother Cynthia…

It’s difficult to know where Bendis is heading with this series. Is it purely a story of redemption and regret, or does he have a hidden agenda yet to be revealed? For a character like Victor Von Doom to suddenly gain heroic aspirations doesn’t quite gel, and you can’t help waiting for his real motivations to be suddenly exposed. His speech patterns are also far removed from the Doctor of old, which is probably unintentional, but adds weight to the feeling that this just isn’t the Doctor we once knew.

Meanwhile, the second Stark successor is super genius Riri Williams, who downloaded pirate plans for Iron Man armour from the internet and built her own suit, after being inspired to take constructive action against random crime following the fatal shooting of her stepdad and best friend.

She is aided in her endeavours by an artificial intelligence based on the brain patterns of Tony himself, but also finds herself working alongside “Pepper” Potts, aka Rescue, and other members of the Stark International team, who want to support her efforts to fill the void left by Iron Man with her own armoured identity as Ironheart.

The same writer might be responsible for these two books, but the tone and quality couldn’t be more different. Whereas Bendis’ take on Victor Von Doom feels forced and uncomfortable, he brings a natural charm to Riri Williams which owes much to his work with previous comics teenagers like Miles Morales and the Ultimate universe’s Peter Parker.

Unfortunately the static and realistic artwork of Alex Maleev is also drastically out of place in Infamous, whereas Stefano Caselli offers a kinetic dynamism which brings Invincible to life.

Based on these initial volumes, there’s much more to be excited about in the youthful exploits of Ironheart than a jaded Doom’s bid for redemption…

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