Mary Jane (yes — beautiful, green-eyed redhead, primary love interest of Peter Parker for the last 20 years, “Face it tiger, you just hit the jackpot,” M.J.) makes her debut as a new supporting cast member in Invincible Iron-Man #4 and the burning question on everyone’s mind is: will Tony Stark smash or nah? (And we’re not talking the “Hulk smash” variety.)
Seriously. Just take a look at the following comments section on the official Marvel site for an idea of most fans’ condemnation of the mere thought of that ol’ horndog Tony Stark making a move on Spider-Man’s (ex)girl. (Not to mention our very own Chris Hassan.)
Before we can find out whether or not Mary Jane gets stark naked with the Stark-man however…
Invincible Iron-Man #4 (Marvel Comics)
We join Iron Man where we left off at the end of issue #3: hemmed in by group of cyber-ninjas that look like clones of Snake-Eyes from G.I. Joe… that happen to be dual-wielding glowing energy katanas/ancient Japanese swords. This leads to a cyber-ninjas vs. Iron Man throwdown that could be as fine an example of nerd-boner nourishment I’ve seen in a long time.
The latest feature writer Brian Michael Bendis has added to Tony’s red-and-gold shape-changing armor’s arsenal? A Star Saber/Ronin Warrior fusion mode that’s more suited to melee encounters and looks dope to boot. Fan-service? Maybe a little. But I’ll be damned if the entire sequence of Iron Man taking a lightning katana to his formidable assailants didn’t have me murmuring “bad-ass” over and over like an awestruck pre-teen.
The action is a little disjointed at points (a few more panels here and there would have connected the fight scenes in a more seamless manner) but otherwise superb. David Marquez continues to go ham in the art department and the colors by Justin Ponsor lend each crackle of energy and flash of luminescence a vivid, animated nature. Panels such as the this one capture Marquez’s flair for stylistic kineticism that’s just plain fun to look at:
This one the ease with which Marquez is able to convey emotions through facial expressions and body posture:
Here, Marquez’s skilled choice of perspective combined with Ponsor’s beautiful coloring on the waves and the full moon make this “calm before the storm” moment really look and feel like it’s taking place on a beach:
Even subtle nuances such as Ponsor’s lighting giving Friday a holographic appearance are appreciated, as it’s something a lesser comic book colorist could easily bungle/rush over:
Marquez does make still-suitless Dr. Doom look like Billy Crudup’s younger brother (if he were a registered sex offender), though:
Damn, guy. You are one shady looking bastard.
Bottom line:Invincible Iron Man #4 has the type of art you’ll want to savor panel-to-panel like sweet, visual confectionary.
Bendis’ writing is strong as well. Although the overall narrative doesn’t progress much, the issue is still crammed with plenty of substance and excellent characterization — and Bendis never makes matters dull, even for a moment. The exchanges between Friday (the successor to in-suit A.I. Jarvis) and Tony are plentiful and flex Bendis’ ever-present knack for smooth, colloquial dialogue (although Bendis uses Friday to lampshade common tropes a little too generously at times).
A later scene where Tony bickers with a holographic projection of himself from three days prior and then takes umbrage with still metal suitless Dr. Doom’s egotistic timing really reinforce the fact that although ostensibly pompous — Tony is still a good dude at heart. Bendis can even turn a routine “cops showing up at the scene of the crime asking Iron Man what happened” into something winsome. Solid writing.
As far as the infamous Mary Jane Watson meet-up, she only appears for a few pages towards the end. Bendis uses her as the butt of a joke despite her laudable new occupation, so it remains to be seen what direction he’ll be taking with her. Let’s just say the cover was a little misleading. Also, I hope next month’s cover is just as disingenuous, because damn that’s one huge spoiler.
Is It Good?
Hells yeah. This is everything you want from an Iron Man comic: exciting action, poignant character development, impressive tech displays from the Iron Man armor, humor, amazing art… I could go on. Invincible Iron Man is just a fun ride, point blank. If Bendis and Marquez haven’t sold you yet, grab this issue.
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