Iron Man hasn’t felt this fresh in years. The character has been the futurist everyone loves to hate for so long it’s beginning to occur to me I didn’t like Tony Stark until Christopher Cantwell brought him down to Earth. In the first story arc since taking over, Tony has separated himself from his wealth and constant need to fix things while rekindling his relationship with Patsy Walker. He’s also got a major Korvac problem — such a problem he and Patsy got electrocuted in the last issue.
If this series is a game of chess, Cantwell is nearly done with the opening gambit. Patsy and Tony’s relationship develops in this issue as they both bond from the Korvac experience (dibs on that band name). Their relationship continues to be an intriguing element as they have a past together, have shared intense experiences, and now they share a defeat to the enemy. Through slow and steady scenes drawn expertly by Cafu we grow closer to these characters as they grow closer to one another.
Korvac meanwhile sets his pieces on the board for the reader to see. This helps raise the stakes and to understand he’s not only a threat, but means business. Cafu conveys fear and utter shock via Korvac’s Henchmen which tells a story visually about what is going on in his dealings. Sure, he tells us a bunch about his plan, but it’s in these asides we understand he means business and is not to be trifled with. There appears to be some Christian themes in play here, though they are never overt. Korvac wants to aside to godhood and it’s a fitting visual to see his charging post as a cross.
It’s in the little moments this series builds, grows interest in, and develops its characters. For that, the book works on a level where readers who pay attention are rewarded. For instance, Cantwell calls back a character from issue #1 which reveals they may have a superpower we weren’t aware of.
To use another chess term, things come to en passant by issue’s end, increasing the danger for Tony personally and for Patsy physically. This is certainly a slower moving story, at least this and the last issue, but so far there is enjoyment in reading in between the lines. The pieces are moving into position now and an epic battle we’ve come to expect from big superhero comics is about to take place.
The use of color by Frank D’Armata is telling another side of the story. This is a darker book, playing with shadows in rooms that are seemingly well lit. This is a dark time for Tony and Patsy, but they endure. The play of shadows on their faces in an early scene is particularly interesting, as if they wear masks when not suited up. Cut to Korvac and he’s practically standing in darkness. When powers do come into play, the use of purple is quite cool, giving off a godlike feel.
Much like chess, Iron Man is now a hero with finite and distinct resources which hasn’t been the case for some time. He’s a hero who is growing to discover himself while also discovering something new with Patsy Walker. All the while, an old villain wants to destroy him forever, but ain’t that the Stark luck? Iron Man #4 continues to trend the character upward and onward for those looking for a more human Tony Stark.
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