When I first started reading comics, Marvel Comics Presents was a book I often picked up. It was a fine way to get a number of different short stories from dissimilar Marvel characters, allowing me to learn about distinctive players in the universe. It also seemed to be a less popular book at my local newsstand, so unlike the X-Men, it was never sold out. The stories were generally inconsequential to the larger continuity, but they also contained their own charm and purpose. These short narratives allowed creators to play around with a character and tell a tale that may not have worked in the core Marvel books.
The debut issue of 2020 Iron Age reminds me of those old MCP issues from the late ’80s. Here we find three singular, standalone narratives, all about robots in the 2020 Marvel Universe. Each piece here has its strengths and detriments, and Tom DeFalco/Nick Roche, Christopher Cantwell/ Matt Horak, and Fonda Lee/Damian Couceiro do propose some interesting ideas that may be worthy of exploring in a future story within this world.
My least favorite of the set was the DeFalco/Roche narrative at the front of the issue. It seemed most indebted to existing characters I was unacquainted with, and while it had some interesting ideas related to machines (giving them a sense of pain to stop them from rebelling), the dialogue and art style fell flat when trying to deliver this tale.
The second story by Lee and Couciero was a stronger addition to this universe, providing some interesting robot design and narrative direction. It was uninterrupted and to the point, with the character of Alkhema being a noteworthy one. I would be interested to see where this character and her arc go at the end of this issue.
The best piece in the issue is from Cantwell, Horak, and Farrell, focusing on a calico cat as it springs and plunges through this 2020 world. Most of the issue is told through visuals, allowing this creative team to tell the inconsequential story in a fitting comic style. It was a fun read, with strong visual pacing.
There isn’t anything here that is going to entice folks to pay attention to the 2020 line, but there are creative ideas from the three creative teams present, giving some life to this small corner of the Marvel Universe.
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