This week in Iron Man, Christopher Cantwell and Cafu reveal what Iron Man has been up to and how he might get back into the battle with Korvac. It’s a change of pace, but that’s pretty much par for the series, as the last issue featured Korvac heavily and the prior issue focused on Hellcat. Prepare yourselves, Iron Man fans, for a sci-fi story with plenty of deep-cut connections to this character’s past.
It has been months since we’ve seen Iron Man and we’re finally in store for the return of Tony Stark in Iron Man #10. That’s due to the series taking its time to focus on other characters, but the tease of Iron Man being marooned on a strange alien world is getting its payoff this week.
Instead of opening with a splashy action scene, the book opens at sunset, and as the suns in the sky tickle the landscape we see the land seems peaceful and beautiful in its own way. A beautiful sky. A pretty bird. A river that seems to suggest the land provides. And then, a strange rocky head. The world isn’t green and lush by any means, but it certainly seems safe. These images play off Iron Man’s thoughts via captions to fill us in on what he’s been up to and what the deal is with this world. The main point is he’s in no rush to leave and he has a few reasons to stay.
The beauty of this issue lies in the subtle ways it connects back to Iron Man’s past. I won’t spoil them (though the cover plainly reveals Ultimo will appear) since these little revelations help give Iron Man hope and the reader a bit of spark. This isn’t some random planet and some random sci-fi turn in the story. Iron Man practically belongs here.
In some respects, this issue reads like a mythical journey for Iron Man. That’s very on-brand for a character who went back to medieval times. In fact, this issue seems to have fantasy tropes at work, making the sci-fi elements feel elevated and different. Along the way, Cantwell fills us in on very human trials for Tony to endure, like his never-ending pain or his broken neck. Still, he doesn’t have the urge to escape this mysterious place he was dragged into. There’s an allure from the first peaceful page all the way through the trails he must endure, too.
Art by Cafu, with colors by Frank D’Armata, are as sharp as ever. Much of the worldbuilding rests on Cafu’s artistic abilities. and he pulls it off splendidly. Various aliens in crowds, the beauty of a hazy mountain in the distance, or disturbed rocky body parts laying about add to the mysteriousness of the planet. D’Armata continues to show how great he is at color when it comes to Iron Man’s suit. The shiny metal is touched with light in every panel, helping to make Iron Man stand out amongst the foreign land. Iron Man is juxtaposed well against many beautiful landscapes. Heck, even in a scene indoors, the rocky surface of the walls around the characters has a life of its own.
It’s easy to forget Cantwell has set all his main characters on private journeys, and this Iron Man-focused issue may be similar. Or, it could be the start of something truly special that blends mythical with science fiction while paying homage to Iron Man’s past. This is an issue that deserves a little extra time to soak in and, if you let it, it’ll remind you this Iron Man run is incredibly intelligent, thoughtful, and layered.
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