Once upon a time there was a poor little rich boy who made his own toys to keep himself amused. In time he became a poor little rich man, whose toys made him richer still, though poor in spirit. That changed after some very bad men took the poor little rich man away from his mansion and asked him to make a toy for them. A deadly toy.
He wound up escaping from the bad men with the help of a true friend and the best toy the poor little rich man had ever made. From that day forth, the poor little rich man was a changed man, devoting his life and his riches toward helping others.
That poor little rich man was named Tony Stark. And the toy that he made became known as Iron Man.
Andy Bhang remembers the Tony Stark who was once a poor little rich boy – one who did not play well with others, even at something so simple as a robotic soccer tournament. As such, he isn’t happy when Tony Stark buys his company out from under him, lock, stock and barrel. He is surprised, however, when Tony Stark shows up on his doorstep to whisk him away in a flying car to the headquarters of Stark Unlimited with a job offer.
As stunned as Andy is by what goes on behind the doors of Tony Stark’s research and development company, he is even more stunned when a typical day at work – which for Tony involves fielding complaints from the Robot Resources department over the discrimination the artificial intelligences are experiencing at the hands of their human counterparts – is interrupted by a dragon attack. Then Andy is treated to a front row seat as Tony Stark goes to his “other job” to save New York City faster than you can say Dovahkiin.
The chief problem with Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 is one that stymies most writers who try to handle Tony Stark, particularly in the wake of Robert Downey Jr.’s masterful portrayal of the character in the films. Tony is a funny guy but he also comes off as an arrogant jerk. He has learned a modicum of humility but he still pushes peoples buttons by sheer virtue of his expansive personality. It’s hard for most writers to manage that balancing act and create a Tony Stark who is both larger than life but still sympathetic to readers.
Many writers overcome this by telling their story through Tony’s eyes and focusing on the thoughts of the man behind the mask. Dan Slott adopts a different tactic in Tony Stark: Iron Man #1, using Andy Bhang as our point-of-view character while twisting the weirdness and comedy knobs up to 11, as Slott turns Stark Unlimited into a twisted combination of Google and Willy Wonka’s factory. Unfortunately, most of the jokes fall flat and most of the characters sound like reference-dropping machines rather than real people.
The artwork is similarly muddled. Valerio Schiti’s artwork is inoffensive enough, save that the thick inks on the line-work kill the detailing on any panels that are not close-ups. Virtually every character in this book not portrayed in a close-up seems to be rendered with a perpetual squint. There are also a number of forced poses, with dialogue that suggests calmness spoken by characters who seem to be in the middle of shouting. The color art by Edgar Delgado is nice enough, but it’s a pretty paint-job on a run-down house.
It’s a bit hard to judge this series by its first issue, which seems to be a one-shot story despite being labeled as the first part of a storyline called “Self-Made Man.” As it stands, fans of Iron Man who aren’t too picky may enjoy this series, but those who don’t already love Tony Stark won’t have their opinions changed.
Tony Stark: Iron Man #1 releases on June 20, 2018!
Written by The Critic The Internet Deserves, but not the one it needs right now…. Matt Morrison. He’s a smart-ass guardian. A sarcastic protector. A Snark Knight.