Iron Man is under the new management of Christopher Cantwell and Cafu, and so far it has been deftly crafted as it steers into new waters. This is a deeper psychological probing of Tony Stark as he’s stepping away from trying to fix the world and trying to find himself. In the second issue, out this week, the story begins to build on a supervillain who will be entering the narrative while Tony deals with the urge to prove himself via suicidal tendencies.
This issue opens on a scientific lab where nefarious things are going on. When aren’t they in labs, am I right? It sets up a rather scary villain that should be tough for Tony to take on, which is further proven when we see Tony is embroiled in some kind of Arcade scheme fighting in a boxing ring. Cantwell does a good job establishing the fact that Tony isn’t in the right headspace to be taking on supervillains of higher caliber throughout the volume.
Iron Man is having a crisis of sorts, and it’s fun to pull at the ball of twine that is Tony’s brain space to figure him out. It’s not a midlife crisis, but something else. Using Patsy Walker, Cantwell is able to probe Tony a bit more than the usual comic book and even push him about things like his white privilege and god complex. If you were ever bored of Tony being a futurist who has answers for everything, you’re going to love the direction Cantwell is taking this character.
The book looks gorgeous too. Cafu, along with color artist Frank D’Armata, delivers a comic that’s atmospheric and dark, which suits Tony’s personality right now. There’s a realism we’ve come to expect from this book, too, further enhancing the more mature take on Tony as he works through some stuff. The Iron Man costume looks realistic in its glinty metallic nature and the sans-costume moments have more grit due to the realism. This isn’t hyper-detailed ’90s comics, but something with a bit more weight to it.
It does take some patience, though. A mopey hero can get tiresome, and while we’re only two issues into the book, Tony’s demeanor is so different, especially for him, that it’s hard to root for him at times. How deep this narrative goes into his psyche will determine how well this works, but it can feel a bit like a downer to read this one. He has quips that bring things up to a healthier and happier level, but the overall mood is a bit low.
Christopher Cantwell and Cafu’s Iron Man feels revolutionary in its approach for the character. This is an Iron Man who has real problems going on inside of him and he’s not sure how to fix it. That’s exciting, especially if you’ve read Iron Man for the last 30 years as he seems to have always had an answer for anything. Iron Man has been rendered human again, and for that, Iron Man is more relatable and interesting than ever.
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