The ascension of Stark is a speculate to behold. Though highly unique, with a near unrivaled origin, Iron Man only recently hit the mainstream, going from B-list to one of the marketable and identifiable characters of the half decade. Superior Iron Man #1 is the first time the character has received a major outward status quo change since his rise in popularity and the issue tries to make the transition smooth.
The first half of the comic is a very extrapolated affair, a fairly unnecessary introduction to the Armored Avenger and his MO — advanced tech powered by a loud mouth. The back end of the comic delivers what a first issue should, promising concepts and strong supporting players. The uneven effort makes this hard to grade, it seems pretty average. Honestly, it’s a bland comic with too few “whoa” moments.
In another place on this site I’ve written about AXIS, and thus far, about halfway into it, I’m looking for more depth. The concept of heroes and villains having their very essences turned inside out hold fascinating storytelling potential and Superior Iron Man taps into that. In what could be most marquee work yet Tom Taylor has the challenge of writing a passive villain genius in the skin of a fan favorite character. Due to the aforementioned slow start it’s going to take at least a few more issues to truly judge Taylor’s ability to create and capture a voice for this new Stark.
The art doesn’t pick up any slack for an tepid script. Yildiray Cinar is a great creator, definitely ongoing material, but given this new direction for Iron Man I’m pretty shocked the art direction isn’t more aggressively innovative. Marvel has excelled in this aspect in the last few years and it’s weird they would go with a very vanilla choice like Cinar. There are no real flaws to the work, the action looks good and Iron Man’s new suit is rendered well, but it lacks a pop needed to sell the new direction to fans.
The concept of a villainous Tony feels like an indulgence. It’s an interesting experiment but I’m hoping it can work out the kinks.
– Jamil Scalese
Superior Iron Man #1?! This will be worth thousands some day! Right? No? Well, it’s the beginning of a brand new era for one of Marvel’s most popular creations, one that will build and build until… next year when they’re sure to put out the next Iron Man #1. Maybe that one will be Uncanny! Or Amazing! Or Astonishing! I hate to start things off on such a negative note, but that’s the mood I’m in after reading this comic.
I’m not reading Axis, so the explanation that kicks off this issue was super helpful. Apparently due to Red Skull’s shenanigans Tony Stark is a jerk. A bigger jerk, I mean. And there we have the entire basis for Superior Iron Man. What happens when Tony Stark goes from regular jerk to bigger jerk? In the sliver of extra content we get, Marvel explains how Stark started out as an unlikable egomaniac and it was only a “true Marvel moment” that made him the hero we all know and love. What happens when we take the hero out and let the pompous Stark keep his tech toys? Sorry Marvel, I’m not biting. I don’t care.
Things kick off with a fairly entertaining run-in with She Hulk, but from there I lost all interest. Stark is an arrogant womanizer who now constantly drinks. He’s got some awful plans in the works and Pepper Pots is fed up. Throw in a seemingly pointless cameo (which I’m sure will develop), a “shocking” twist ending that falls flat and a new, underwhelming suit of armour and I’m one disappointed reader.
Tom Taylor tries his best to infuse Stark with that “Robert Downey Jr. wit” that captivated audiences in theatres, and it almost works. He’s conceited, sure, but he isn’t all that interesting. There’re a few funny lines, but they’re outweighed by the few that simply don’t work. Once he settles in, Taylor could write an interesting Tony Stark I’m sure. If he could nail Stark into a “big-headed but always right” kind of role (like DC’s Vril Dox, for example) I’d be on board, but right now Stark is more villain than anything.
Artist Yildiray Cinar has some fine ideas in terms of layout and structure, but his overall work comes off as… not ready for prime-time. The story is told logically and the action is well done but the quality simply doesn’t match the title. If Marvel wants to push Iron Man as one of their signature creations, they’re going to need an artist more impressive than Cinar.
This book takes a weak premise, uses a silly excuse and presents us with an unlikable protagonist. There are some neat ideas within these pages, but they are better suited to a single story or short story arc, not the foundation for an ongoing series.
– Chris Wunderlich
Off the bat Superior Iron Man #1 isn’t anything marvelous. The premise, “Can Tony Stark still be a hero when he thinks he’s superior?” is a bit laughable because he’s Tony Stark. He’s always been a rich playboy with an ego. Sure he’s had his bouts with health and alcohol problems and has been a likeable jerk in some Marvel comics, but superior? Not yet at least. He speaks with an expected Stark attitude, which does allow for some quick and humorous dialogue, but the premise of him sipping on cocktails made of money, girls and hubris isn’t enough to make the book terribly interesting.
The book is nice to look at, but it’s still fairly typical of what Marvel’s been putting out lately. The scene with She-Hulk and Teen Abomination was enjoyable and the action easy to follow and all in all, a job well done. Pepper is the most grounded character and moral compass of the story so far, which isn’t anything new. She’s also the most likeable and will probably remain so until Stark becomes less of a jerk. Stark’s treatment of her is frustrating, but isn’t unbelievable given the background of the character. He’s also foiled by the inclusion of Daredevil, where outer appearances don’t necessarily matter to him. The theme of attaining perfection and then losing it isn’t entirely new, but making it accessible through an app is a nice touch that highlights a chunk of mainstream culture.
There is potential to satirize the reliance on technology, self-obsession and the opportunity to criticize class separation and shallowness which would give readers more to chew on. The ending scene adds some mystery which might hook readers to continue the story. The hook phrases “Be Beautiful. Be Intelligent. Be Healthy. Be Immortal” also point to a full, dense story with a plentitude of ideas to represent. All in all, it’s an ok first issue, nothing more and nothing less.
– Michael Bettendorf