Iron Man insists on going big in Books of Korvac II – Overclock. Big drama, big stakes, cosmic scale.
First of all, our two primary heroes, Iron Man and Hellcat, are reeling from injuries and injustices suffered last volume: Tony’s got himself a broken neck, and Patsy’s suffering a sort of psychic frailty from being constantly tampered with — both by main villain Korvac and assorted other villains in her past. Meanwhile, Rhodey is in captivity.
All of these things seem like they might be hurdles for our heroes in their attempt to stop Korvac from flying into space to steal cosmic powers from recently-dead Galactus’ abandoned worldship, Taa II.
Truth be told, these hurdles are easily cleared—Tony’s got a built in Super Neck Brace™ built into his suit, it seems, Rhodey pretty easily frees himself from the villains’ clutches, and Patsy learns that she can manipulate her psychic intrusion like a two-way radio. Then it’s off to space.
Christopher Cantwell and Cafu’s Iron Man revels in the old-school, pushing old-school characters to the forefront, inserting old-school footnotes and refuting modern events. This second book, though, embraces a sort of side-adventuring, ancillary interlude story that might very well be better through the lens of nostalgia than in action.
During a galactic chase into the cosmos, Tony is whisked away to a world where he hangs out with Stilt-Man and Arvo-X so that he can fight man-eating Ultimos.
On its own, this is a fine story with its own rhythms and concerns. As it’s presented — directly in the middle of a larger, more epic story — it feels like stalling. As if the creators realized that they needed to stretch the primary story out and the only way to do that was a thinly-conceived cross-cosmos kidnapping.
Not only does this stall out the main story (and leaves Tony’s team floating in space for an unspecified amount of presumably incredibly boring time), it also forces thematic threads to be abandoned and emotional beats to fall flat.
The book likes to imply a modern thoughtfulness to its bonkers, nostalgic action. Early in the book, Tony’s C-List team begins to discuss the nature of God in a universe with the Infinity Stones, which is for sure the most philosophical Frog-Man has ever been.
It’s a compelling contemplation, something that I’d be keen to see followed through on. The problem is that, like everything else in the book, it has no thematic follow-through. Due to the stretched nature of the story, Korvac still hasn’t come close to his godhood, and so the philosophical concerns cannot find a B-point echo for a payoff; in its place, Tony has the fairly pedestrian revelation that maybe he should give up super-heroism and retire to the country.
These problems are much less noticeable month-to-month and issue-to-issue — none of these issues are bad, by any means — but this trade shows how precarious a balance to art of collecting stories is (and writing with the aim for small trades is); with a disrupted narrative through-line, floating thematic threads, and a deflated dramatic tension, this collection is drastically less impressive than the one preceding it.
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