Iron Man 2.0 is not a superhero comic. Nick Spencer is utilizing Jim Rhodes in a way few sidekicks get to be explored, making bold strides in the characterization of Rhodey as well as in finding the series’ voice. Iron Man 2.0 is more akin to an espionage series, like Intelligence or a one-man A-Team without George Peppard’s steamy sassiness or sexy senior status .
The “Palmer Addley is Dead” storyline is quickly becoming one of the most tantalizing mysteries in comics, with each chapter perfectly paced to deliver just enough details without ever feeling like an info dump. Spencer has demonstrated remarkable skill in this on his T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents run, and in his hands Rhodey feels like a character who is actually growing and learning from his mistakes. Surviving a bomb blast tends to have that effect on people.
One of the more admirable features of this issue is how well the different artists are starting to gel. While I do hope that the series will employ one regular artist, the usage of Kano, Carmine Di Giandomenico and Barry Kitson in different timelines is exceptional. The entire opening sequence, drawn by Di Giandomenico, features a superlative silent visual narrative as different involved parties react to the news of the bomb that went off at the end of issue #2. From one page to the next it smash-cuts to a television broadcaster announcing the aftermath, and it’s a brilliant use of the comics medium. You can practically hear the helicopters overhead and feel the sand and wind kicking up.
This issue also features the redesign of the War Machine suit (one of the reasons the book keeps its numerical title) and a humorous conversation between Tony Stark and Rhodey about the features on it answer the questions we’ve all had on our mind (yes, that machine gun is purely for phallic purposes). It is a testament to Spencer’s talents that an issue which could have easily been summed up as fodder for a trade becomes a seminal point in the story.
While the Palmer Addley mystery is only mildly addressed, there’s enough legitimate progress to be an engaging read and act as proper set-up for what’s sure to be an exciting run. I want to know what’s going with Palmer Addley just as badly as the people in the book do, and that’s how you know you’re reading something worthwhile. If you’ve been sleeping on Iron Man 2.0, power up and pick up what is one of the most tensely plotted and expertly handled books on the market. Suit up.