The Death of Doctor Strange has wowed with its clever take on the murder of a superhero, and now it’s time for the one-shot stories to add more color. Out this week is Alex Paknadel and Ryan Bodenheim’s Avengers one-shot, which features Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor (among others) reeling after their fight with the Three Mothers. If you needed to know how bad Earth has it with the Three Mothers, this issue is a must-read.
This is a spoiler-free review save for what is in the preview, which heavily focuses on Iron Man. The issue opens with Iron Man and Doctor Strange meeting in Wakanda years ago, seemingly to form the Illuminati. It’s a casual conversation that gets a bit pointed as Iron Man makes it very clear what he thinks about magic and further delves into Tony’s obsession with control. Clearly, there are some things Tony Stark and Doctor Strange need to work out.
As the preview shows, Iron Man has been put in a bad place mentally after his suit was filled with what looked like worms and he was rendered powerless. This sets up the conflict well as we know Iron Man isn’t quite himself, but the threat certainly isn’t stopping any time soon.
The standout element of this issue is the dialogue, which reads at a higher level. Characters speak as one might with the weight of the world on their shoulders. Iron Man has a bit of edge to nearly everything he says, which was set up well in the opening scene. Paknadel and Bodenheim are basically showing an Iron Man who probably shouldn’t be in the field, but he needs a win to center himself. You can tell a lot of time and care went into exactly what is being said and what that means coming from each of the characters.
Art by Bodenheim, with colors by Rachelle Rosenberg, is very good, especially if you’re a fan of detail. There always seems to be little bits of rubble or dust in scenes on Earth or elsewhere, and the insides of Iron Man’s suit are quite cool too. Colors add good volume to Iron Man’s suit and the lighting always seems to be on point, even when it is breaking the laws of physics. There’s a full-page splash of Iron Man taking some major damage and it’s super fun to see all the little details Bodenheim put into the suit to give it a more realistic look and feel.
One downside of this book may be the somewhat misleading title — this is not so much an Avengers book as it is an Iron Man one. Captain America and Thor certainly have dialogue and things to do, but this is much more about Iron Man’s personal journey starting from his weakened state. All told, the book firmly establishes that the stakes are higher than ever, which is good, but at the same time, it’s not exactly clear who or what the threat is though this could be by design.
The Death of Doctor Strange: Avengers #1 is a good one-shot that plugs you into Iron Man’s weakened emotional state. This issue takes readers on an adventure that is incredibly large in scope, but tightly written.
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