Save for the movies, I’ve never been a big Iron Man fan. The suit, of course, looks cool, and flying would be fun. However, Tony Stark is exactly the sort of guy I would chew off my arm to get away from. For such a smart guy, he makes a lot of dumb decisions, in his personal life, and for a traditional hero, he isn’t much of a role model. I can’t help wondering if a guy like that really would put on a suit and become a hero.
Still, with the Marvel Now! initiative, I’ve been broadening my horizons a bit, checking out characters I had previously skipped, and I finally got around to the new iteration in Iron Man: Believe. As a jumping on point you could do worse, but overall the book fell flat. Since it is the first book in a new series, this was disheartening. What reason do I have to read more books in the series if the initial story is boring.
Believe opens where I would expect, in a bar. Tony is picking up a women even though Pepper is there. What she is doing is completely unexplained. It would seem she is hanging out to give Tony an excuse to explain himself to the readers.
He ultimately takes the girl back to his place but doesn’t get to make it with her because Marvel can’t do that and keep a kid friendly rating. I mean, he gets called into action by an old flame, Maya Hansen, who was set on fire an instance after sending the message that “Extremis is loose.” Extremis is a super soldier style medication that uses nanotechnology to turn the recipient into a superhuman. Hansen originally created it, and had been kidnapped and forced to make more of it for A.I.M., before being killed in her escape attempt.
When Iron Man eventually tracks down the Extremis kits he discovers they have been auctioned to the four highest bidders. Which brings us to the plot of the story, Tony has to track down the auctioned kits and destroy them before they can be used for ultimate evil. Oh, and in the midst of all this, Tony has retired the original J.A.R.V.I.S. and is working on a new, cranky A.I. This I suppose is to make the reader feel this is all happening in a real world by giving Tony a mundane problem (as if fixing a cranky computer intelligence is mundane).
As the story unfolds, Iron Man is pitted against a random series of enemies in a rambling story that doesn’t seem to have any point. There is a weird gang of would be Arthurian Knights trying to use Extremis to enhance their armor piloting ability.
In another story a father trying to use Extremis to save his daughter from cancer. As a stand alone story, this one would have almost made sense, but as it is it lacks the emotional impact the author obviously intended.
In the third story, the Extremis is given to thirteen blonds who essentially turn into demons. They attack Tony who kills them as a mercy, except for one who isn’t attacking. She is sent to prison, apparently with a baby that will presumably show up later.
In the last story, Tony has to take a pack from his old friend Eli who is out in space and wants to use it to explore other worlds. He wants to keep changing his crews bodies to fit the planets they will explore.
In the end Iron Man stops everybody’s dream, for better or worse. His rational is that even those who aren’t hurting anyone with the Extremis might not be able to defend it against the truly evil who would take it and reek havoc upon the planet.
All in all, it presents a pretty pedestrian story with some instances of downright flawed writing. There don’t seem to be any big ideas to explore, and the parts that are supposed to make you feel something lack the emotional punch.
The book has some exciting visuals. There are some great images of Iron Man engulfed in flames, and others of him wearing new black armor with TRON-like glowing parts. Still, they come across in a I’ve-seen-that-all-before sort of way. On the whole I would say this is a completely underwhelming start to a series.
Iron Man: Believe, written by Kieron Gillen with art by Greg Land, was released by Marvel, April 16, 2013. It is rated T for Teens. It collects Iron Man Issues 1-6. There are 136 pages in this hardcover edition. USR $24.99