Editor's Note: Iron Man #26 arrives in stores tomorrow, February 20.
Plot: Iron Man clashes with the Mandarin before the classic foe can wipe out the populationů and himself too?
Commentary: Iron Man #26 suffers from two problems. Firstly, all of the story is presented in previous issues. Secondly, where the hell does this all fit into the Marvel Universe?
Here's the skinny: Tony Stark's old colleague Maya Hensen faked her death and has secretly been working for the government, who has been infiltrated by the Mandarin, who has secretly been using her research to create a weapon to bring on the next stage in human evolution by killing all weaklings! The plan reached an interesting crescendo last issue when the Mandarin revealed he would not survive his own ruse, making the ultimate sacrifice for mankind.
Subsequently, in order for Tony's actions to have any significance in this issue, you need to read the previous books. A clever marketing idea? I don't know, but this story will read a lot better as a trade paperback.
As for the other problem, here's what you need to know: Iron Man has been going slightly batty, mistaking living people for old dead friends. Summarily, he takes a leave of S.H.I.E.L.D. command to figure out what's happening. Coupled with this, he is forced to use an older armor while his new one is "in the shop."
So Iron Man is not the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., not in his new armor, and is seeing dead people. Then why the hell is he in every other Marvel comic as the Head of S.H.I.E.L.D., in his new armor, and not seeing dead people!? That's not to say that the writing in this issue is bad. The story and dialogue are satisfying, but this issue just doesn't make any sense juxtaposed to every other title where Iron Man appears.
If you can push those major irks aside, you may honestly enjoy this book thanks to De La Torre's art. It's just so good that you forget about all these problems for a while, drooling over his paintbrush like strokes. The book is filled with graceful, fluid movement and finesse. Iron Man's gripping fight with the Mandarin would seem more like a clobber-fest in another artist hands. Instead, it's like an elegant ballet involving large airborne pipes and energy blasts.
If you have been reading the series thus far, Iron Man #26 is an average book. This is certainly not a jumping on point for new readers, though art enthusiasts may enjoy.
Final Word: Great art. Satisfying story. Continuity makes no sense.
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