Tony Stark is missing. With his lab in ruins, it’s up to Doctor Strange and Ironheart to piece it all together. However, they may learn that things are much more dire than they appear.
Despite appearing on the cover, Doctor Strange and Riri Williams are more like supporting players in this issue, trying to catch up with what happened to Tony’s lab. Their only source of answers is a stack of pages from a magic book, which fills them in on Tony’s fate. With this tactic, the miniseries is taking on a bit of an anthology vibe, only with the wraparound story being Doctor Strange and Riri Williams finding pages that tell them what befell each member of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
Jeremy Whitley takes a clever approach to the story structure here, which will also allow each issue to have its own unique flavor. Unfortunately, it does sort of sideline the characters who are supposedly the heroes of the story. If you haven’t read a book with Riri Williams or Doctor Strange, you won’t necessarily get a solid feel for their personalities or backstory here.
In an interesting tactic, the artwork in this issue is divvied up amongst a few different groups, which makes the flashback sequence stand out a bit more. Gretel Lusky and Nahuel Ruiz tackle art and colors, respectively, in the issue’s wraparound story. The meat of the book — the flashback sequence — is illustrated and colored by Derek Charm. Layouts for the flashback are handled by Seth Smith. Both sections have a slightly cartoony vibe to them, which gives the whole thing a bit of a Scooby-Doo vibe. I mean that as the utmost compliment, because this issue splendidly balances some creepy moments out with good old fashion superheroics.
One really cool sequence in particular follows Iron Man trying to escape an attack from his tools and suits that have come to life, which leads to a few panels that are titled, almost like the page is moving along with Tony’s somersault. There’s an excellent kinetic energy to that moment that has stuck with me since reading the issue.
Facial expressions throughout the issue are well done, particularly toward the end of the issue. The last time we see Tony, his terror is sold to the audience without things being too grim for a kids’ book.
There are some really fun sequences here, and this first issue does a splendid job of balancing the spookier elements with more traditional superhero action. In other words, it’s a great read for all ages.