Marvel Comics is slowly but surely wrapping up Brian Michael Bendis’s run with the company with collected editions and now it is time for Invincible Iron Man to say goodbye. This collection is a great goodbye, as it brings Iron Man back from his year-long coma, is extra-sized in length, and adds fresh ideas to the mix that may matter a lot in the coming months of these characters.
So what’s it about?
The official summary reads:
The search for Tony Stark begins! The former Iron Man has vanished. And, as the mystery of his whereabouts deepens, and some very surprising people from Tony Stark’s present, past and future come together to help in the hunt, the time comes to decide – once and for all – who will wield the armor of Iron Man! All the contenders are in position, and now the contest begins…for there can only be one Golden Avenger! But will it be Riri Williams, Tony Stark…or Victor Von Doom?! And what happens when Riri and Victor realize that they must join forces to solve the mystery of Tony’s fate? The path to the most startling Iron Man story ever begins here!
Why does this matter?
The biggest success of this collection is how much it pulls off in its final acts. Riri ends up with a new and fulfilling direction with strong mentors. Iron Man comes back and does something nobody saw coming. Tony’s parents finally reveal their last secrets. All of these add up to real truth which should matter in future issues (unless of course, Dan Slott deems them inadequate).
Fine, you have my attention. What’s good about it?
This collection has a good beginning, middle, and end, which you can’t always say about comic book collections. It opens with Tony Stark mysteriously disappearing from his coma chamber and follows along with Mary Jane, Tony’s mom, and Riri as they attempt to hold Stark’s world together and embark on new journeys of their own. Much like Bendis’s last arc on Spider-Man, this collection offers characters new directions on top of the revelations, making the book feel important and necessary. Tony Stark as Iron Man may not be in the entire book, but his presence is felt via his A.I. that speaks to Riri and through those he trusts dearly.
This collection also follows Dr. Doom and his fall from hero-dom. He faces off against the Hood and his cronies, attempts to reconcile with the mother of his unborn baby, and takes a huge fall from grace. This story does a good job of showing how even evil men can make amends but makes you question if that is enough.
The art is by Stefano Caselli, Alex Maleev, and in the closing 800th issue, a wide variety of talentm most of whom have worked with Bendis in the past. Maleev adds a grit to his pages that suits the dirty and impure Dr. Doom while Stefano cleans up with his clean and beautiful artwork. It really is a wonder how Stefano can draw all the cool digital screens we see in front of suited up characters as well as the holographic A.I. There’s a level of detail here that’s hard to match.
It can’t be perfect can it?
Bendis can be annoyingly verbose and redundant with his dialogue. Take for example a scene with Tony’s dad speaking to Tony. He repeats the same line more than once which could serve as a way of showing Tony’s stubbornness, but it comes off as lazy. Get to the point!
Which brings me to another issue with this collection and that is how it drags things out. Tony literally lays on a floor in a stupor for more than one issue. You could skip a chunk of this book and still not miss a bit of his journey. To make matters worse, a major development takes place in the closing chapter that got zero development making a paramount twist less meaningful. As you read you might wonder when Bendis chose to move on to DC, because the first half of this collection seems to be biding its time and letting things hang loose as if he didn’t have a plan or didn’t care to close it out until he was ready to move on.
Is it good?
I liked this collection, but there are a few slow parts that drag on for ages. By the end there are strong stories here that result in meaningful developments of character and plot, making this a must-read if you’re a future Iron Man reader, or just an MCU reader in general.