It’s always great to be right. As I’ve predicted in my previous reviews of issues two and three, Iron Man 2.0 is a series that has gotten better and more enticing, and issue #4 is exemplary: not only is it the best to date, but it’s a solid contender for Issue of the Year status… and it doesn’t even feature Jim Rhodes.
Essentially an “Iron Man Minus Iron Man,” the fourth installment of “Palmer Addley is Dead” finds Rhodey’s liaison Kayley Harrison finally getting access to the actual file on the titular character, whose name has been linked to several terrorist events worldwide, despite his self-inflicted demise six months prior. For those us waiting patiently, Spencer has finally provided: this issue features crucial information about Palmer Addley, told actively instead of resorting to narration, and thank Grodd for that. What could have been a tepid info dump becomes an engaging and insightful character piece, more in line with an issue of Spencer’s Morning Glories, as the testimonies regarding Palmer Addley are told from the speakers, and intercut with in-flashback flashbacks.
The structure of the issue earns the book its 5 bullets: each story about Addley is told in roughly a page, with very conservative use of space and language. But then Spencer and artist Ariel Olivetti follow each one with a gorgeous two-page spread of an instance related to the previous speaker’s account. This is literally one of the best uses of the medium of comics I have ever read: it’s genius in its simplicity, but also in the way it fills in more blanks than even the dialogue does.
Olivetti, whose art I’ve not always been a fan of, shows a real growth and tightening of his style, and his pencils are consistent from page to page. The first two-page spread of young Palmer Addley playing with toys in his room is easily the most gorgeous thing he’s ever drawn. If I say any more nice things about Nick Spencer I’ll have to propose, but suffice it to say that the kid is crushing it all around — this issue shows his masterful arsenal of writing skill and vision that an artist could only enhance.
This issue came out only a week after #3, as Marvel heads its books towards the stream-crossing Fear Itself event, but you would be remiss to ignore it. If you’ve been reading the book, then this is the payoff you knew was coming. If you haven’t, this is a great jumping-on point as it is a transition, but it does have enough information about the previous three to hopefully entice a new reader. Iron Man 2.0 #4 isn’t just good — it’s firing on all cylinders.