Backstory: Born the son of industrialist and a brilliant biochemist, Tony wasn’t born normal. He was born extraordinary with the power to regenerate and/or heal his body and to survive amazing amounts of concussive force. While this could be considered as a blessing to many, it could also be a curse. Chased by another industrialist and wanted by the government for his genius and weapons design, Tony grew up in a very untraditional family.
The Present: Tony and best friend Rhodes were approached to attack a terrorist cell in the Mideast. While they were gone, other forces have moved on Stark, his company, and his father.
In the Ultimate Universe, Tony’s grown up much differently than in the Marvel Universe. While he’s still arrogant and wreckless, his intentions are mostly heroic and pure. This issue puts his character to the test.
Tony must give up his “robot” or New York City will disappear in the middle of a nuclear holocaust. Tactically, it’s a no-brainer…just give up his suit in exchange for the location of the nuke. Strategically, there’s absolutely no way that he’ll be giving up his Iron Man suit. The problem is that when you dance with the devil you’ve gotta avoid the flames. Tony and those against him are far too intelligent and devious to make the “robot for nuke” exchange without having some cards of their sleeves.
Pitting pawns Whiplash and Obadiah and an R/C robot in the middle of the board, Tony and Delores play a dangerous game of chess with the fate of NYC hanging in the balance. Boy, that sounds like some marketing adverts on the back of an action DVD, but that’s exactly what’s going on in this issue. Trapped on a plane, Tony is cut off from his support network, his Iron Man suit, and Rhodey in his War Machine suit. Why would you trust a megalomaniac? Because you have to.
Critique: I’m going to have to say that I really, really like the Ultimate Universe. I’ve always been a Marvel fan, but the problems with continuity and all the retcons and even the hokey dialogue from the '60s, '70s and '80s are more than a little distracting sometimes. While I’m sure in 20 years these stories will be dated, the Ultimate Universe is the place to retell the stories and add a contemporary flair to the characters. For new readers or readers who have always wanted to see another side of the classic marvel characters, the Ultimate Universe is a contemporary retelling with new stories and less historical baggage to be weighed down with.
In the Ultimate Universe, we get to follow Tony from conception through to his early 20-30s. He’s young, sophisticated, interpersonally brilliant, and not nearly as stuffy as the Marvel Universe Tony. The Ultimate Tony doesn’t have the emotional baggage of a middle-aged alcoholic who’s been in the Marvel University for over 40 years.
I do like the more “realistic” artwork of the first volume, but I’m certainly not turned off by this art. It’s just a little softer (hope that makes sense) and not my preference. All in all, Tony and the others are believable characters with issues, strengths, weaknesses, and a charm that makes them interesting and compelling.
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