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Iron Man #25 (LGY #650)
Marvel Comics

Comic Books

‘Iron Man’ #25 (LGY #650) caps off Cantwell’s run with an intimate story of heroism

A fitting conclusion for a writer that will be missed on the title.

Fans of Christopher Cantwell’s take on the Armored Avenger are in for a bittersweet issue with Iron Man #25, if only because it marks the end of what has been (in this writer’s opinion) one of the best modern runs on the character. While the central team of Cantwell and artist Angel Unzueta handles the main story, this being a milestone issue (650 issues!) requires there be backup stories as well, both of which are great examples of Iron Man’s nature as a hero throughout his nearly 60-year history.

SPOILERS AHEAD for Iron Man #25!

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In “A Hero And A Friend”, we open on Tony lamenting both the events of the last story arc involving shutting down Source Control’s weapon smuggling ring, as well as the sudden advent of Iron Man Day. We are then led through a series of “quick cuts” to his allies in their various elements: Rhodey Rhodes and Bethany Cabe overseeing the aforementioned Source Control fallout, Riri Williams working with the Mandarin’s Rings (hoping that we can get another Ironheart series sooner rather than later, if only to follow up on this plot point), and Patsy Walker aka Hellcat superheroing in San Francisco.

Right off the bat, while CAFU’s high gloss style is missed, Unzueta does a phenomenal job capturing the mechanical nature of this particular Iron Man armor. Additionally, his three one-page splashes are highly detailed and lovely to look at, from the richness of the San Francisco bay and the towering Golden Gate Bridge, to the interior of Riri Williams’ lab with deep shadows cast by glowing laser light.

As the story progresses, despite being a hallmark of this run, it’s still refreshing to see and hear a Tony Stark that is more introspective and down to Earth than his snarkier, quippier counterpart from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We see this as he remarks on the many people gathered in support and protest of Iron Man Day, as well as the indifferent majority who are more concerned with their daily lives. As a hero, one of Tony’s chief responsibilities is combating threats that would otherwise disrupt their mundane tranquility, and seeing the people of New York go about their day none the wiser gives him some small joy. One would think that repeatedly facing down Michael Korvac solo would be more nerve-wracking than giving a simple speech, and yet we see Tony falter as he (very briefly) examines his history of addiction, fame, and honesty (or lack thereof) in a few panels.

And yet, in taking this pause to steady himself, Tony finds exactly what he needs: someone in need. What would be an otherwise inconsequential occurrence is made into something more intimate, as Tony spots a man collapsed in a subway tunnel, dying from a heart attack. The parallels are clear to Tony’s origin, but outside of being a heroic moment, this scene showcases Tony’s humanity very well, aided in no small part by the commitment to showing his eyes through the armor where normally there would be illuminated “eyes” (there are a few panels where this is the case, but they’re so small that it doesn’t detract from my appreciation for this consistent detail). Further illustrating this point is Tony performing CPR on the man, but only after taking care to remove his gauntlets, showing the man beneath Iron Man. And that Iron Man is indeed a hero, while also being a friend; someone who is always willing and ready to help, even if he doesn’t always go about it in the best way.

Iron Man #25 (LGY #650)
Credit: Marvel Comics

Later, a speaker at the Iron Man Day event proper mentions that, since Tony didn’t show up to speak, he “can only guess that he was called away to do something heroic, yet again, on behalf of all of us…” This strikes me as beautiful, as while Tony’s appearance was derailed by just one person, that one person could have been anybody. It could have been one of his supporters, or detractors, but that’s ultimately irrelevant. Because Iron Man is a hero, and heroes save people, or at least, as many as they can. In a way, Tony was acting on behalf of all of them, because he assured the man in the subway that he would be there for him, and he was.

As the story closes, Tony passes a bar and is met by Patsy, who brings him to Avengers Mansion, where they are then met by a small gathering of Iron Man’s allies and fellow heroes friends, who are more than happy to celebrate Iron Man Day with him.

The second story, “Daddy’s Boys” by the team of Murewa Adoyele and Dotun Akande, is shorter, but no less interesting. Opening with Tony awakening in a desolate snowy waste from what seems to be a brief hibernation period, the story sees Tony trekking through Jotunheim to reach Thor, who Tony believes is in danger. There’s a brief exchange (or series of exchanges, as the one page covers a period of three days) between Tony and his onboard AI, B.R.I.A.N. (perhaps a reference to Bendis?), an even briefer confrontation with an enchanted statue, and finally, Tony finding Thor (or, rather, Odinson at this point in the timeline) alive and well and eating fruit with his goat. Some light banter ensues before they begin a heart-to-heart about their respective relationships with their fathers, and the symbolic connections they have with them through their respective iconic weapons. The art is great, the character voices are on point, and I’m now interested in seeing this creative team tackle Iron Man in the upcoming I Am Iron Man next year.

The third story, a Silver Age throwback-style tale by Kurt Busiek and Benjamin Dewey, sees Iron Man, Madame Masque, and a US Senator crash land in China following a fight with Ultimo. In typical classic Iron Man fashion, Tony is low on power and must use his wits to get them out of not only the situation the trio finds themselves in, but a confrontation with the Radioactive Man! With some light references to the original run of Iron Man’s solo comic, this almost tricked me into thinking this was just a reprint: a testament to Busiek’s talent for capturing the voices of Archie Goodwin and the original Tony Stark. Admittedly, though I enjoyed this portion, given it’s jarring art and tone in comparison to the rest of the book, other readers may not be as receptive.

The final portion of the book is a one-page “sizzle reel” to hype up the upcoming Invincible Iron Man relaunch by Gerry Duggan and Juan Frigeri. If his current work on X-Men and his recently concluded Cable run are any indication, this will likely be a fun, character-focused, high-action run, so I’m interested to see what happens there.

All in all, this has turned out to be a satisfactory conclusion to the Cantwell run, and with some solid backup stories as well, this is definitely recommended for both casual fans and those who have been reading from issue #1.

Iron Man #25 (LGY #650)
‘Iron Man’ #25 (LGY #650) caps off Cantwell’s run with an intimate story of heroism
Iron Man #25 (LGY #650)
'Iron Man' #25 caps off the Christopher Cantwell run with a more intimate story of heroism from the Armored Avenger, plus some pretty bang-up backups. A fitting conclusion for a writer that will be missed on the title.
Reader Rating1 Vote
Cantwell continues to write an excellent, introspective Tony Stark
Unzueta's art is very much in form
Showcases Tony being a hero in a non-bombastic way, without an Avengers-level threat
Backup stories have equally good writing and art
No more Cantwell :(
Busiek's backup may not be a hit for fans of more modern comic books
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