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Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor
Marvel Comics

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‘Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor’ puts Tony on the back foot against someone else’s villains

Pits Tony against interesting odds in order to bolster better books elsewhere.

Tony Stark is at his most interesting on uneven ground, at rock bottom, unsteady.

Sure, it’s exciting to see him at his best – inventing the exact right machine to save the world, or working in chorus with the other super-geniuses of the Marvel Universe – because it’s exciting to see someone win, to be the very best at something incredible and impossible to achieve.

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Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor
Peak Tony.
Marvel Comics

While Tony might be the best at inventing things (though, technically, he’s the third best), what he’s truly best at is failing. Failing in his personal life, in his financial life, in his emotional life. He’s best at struggling to maintain the connections with people he cares about, best at alienating those around him, best at losing control of his trillion-dollar corporation or losing track of his extensive cache of violent technology. At least, these are the times he is made most relatable to we common people, who understand the tribulations of humanity in a way that a supergenius might not.

In Demon in the Armor, Tony isn’t exactly at his lowest point; he hasn’t relapsed in his alcoholism (even though the title of this volume alludes to that concern). He is, however, broke and living in a warehouse. His protégé has him worried, his secret stockpile of superweapons weighs heavy on his head, and he does get blown up and poisoned.

More importantly, someone is attacking his reputation, undermining his credibility, and, ultimately, wearing his face. He is being targeted by hyper-powered old enemies certain he has recently done them grievous harm.

Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor
Marvel Comics

All of these blows put Tony on his back foot, the way we like to see him, though nothing revolutionary is being done with the character; writer Gerry Duggan is not redefining the character, here, so much as presenting him faithfully.

Rather, Duggan is reestablishing the space in which Iron Man stories exist. Dropping the last volume’s extensive cast list and moving the narrative away from the larger Avengers narrative, Tony is brought more in line with the stories being told over in Duggan’s X-Men stable. Demon in the Armor does more to legitimize Orchis-aligned baddie Feilong in the larger Marvel Universe than it does to explore the titular hero.

As in Armor Wars, Tony’s tech has once again been stolen, again in service to the troubles of the X-Men: Feilong, new owner of Stark’s corporate holdings, has merged Iron Man technology with that of the Sentinels, creating a narrative foil to enrich both worlds.

Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor
Marvel Comics

Playing a bit with nostalgia, the book takes a step back to the ’80s to plant Tony Stark roots in X-Men business, setting a precedent for mutant-response Stark tech and integrating Emma Frost into Tony’s narrative. This provides artist Andrea Di Vito a chance to play with nostalgic West Coast Avengers designs to contrast the hyper-modern take provided by Juan Frigeri. The latter, who illustrates the first five issues in the trade, makes Tony and Riri’s armors sleek, redesigns old baddies like Living Laser, and creates an Iron Sentinel that feels as imposing – if not more so – than the purple, clunky sentinels of old.

Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor
Marvel Comics

As a whole, Demon in the Armor feels more adequate than captivating, capturing Tony Stark at interesting odds to bolster a writer’s stronger, more interesting stories elsewhere. It’s lovely to look at, and it holds the reader’s attention, but it refuses to make a mark on its characters. Tony remains in a sort of defensive stasis against unworrying offenses.

Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor
‘Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor’ puts Tony on the back foot against someone else’s villains
Invincible Iron Man by Gerry Duggan Vol. 1: Demon in the Armor
Putting Tony in a compelling place, the book nonetheless moves other stories forward before he has a chance to do much.
Reader Rating0 Votes
0
Beautiful and compelling.
Moves the character to a wider playground.
Legitimizes a major X-Men villain outside of books that feel isolated from the Marvel Universe.
Does little to do more than motivate Tony to action.
Does little more than do its job.
Provides no character growth or change.
7.5
Good
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