Best Shots Advance Review: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #1

Marvel Comics October 2015 solicitations
Credit: Marvel Comics
Credit: Mike Mayhew (Marvel Comics)

Invincible Iron Man #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Art by David Marquez and Justin Ponsor
Lettering by Clayton Cowles
Published by Marvel Comics
Review by David Pepose
'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

It's a brand new day for the Marvel Universe, but for the Invincible Iron Man, it feels like business as usual. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing - considering superhero comic books often feel beholden to the event books that preceded them, it's fairly refreshing for Brian Michael Bendis to get back to the snarky, womanizing, meat-and-potatoes Tony Stark. While Bendis' first issue might not be revolutionary, the next-level artwork from David Marquez and Justin Ponsor still makes Invincible Iron Man a book to watch.

If you're watched any of the Marvel movies over the past few years, you probably already know Tony Stark, billionaire genius playboy philanthropist. But with a new #1 with Marvel's de facto flagship character, it's nice that Brian Michael Bendis doesn't just assume - he's trying to make this as open of a debut issue as he can, and I hope that evangelizing pays off. Yet diehard fans might be a little turned off by the lack of action here, as Bendis swerves more towards the soap operatics of Tony Stark's life - if he's not tinkering in his lab, he's wining and dining beautiful scientists. (Indeed, Tony doesn't even don the Iron Man armor until late into this issue, and even then, the suit doesn't actually see combat.) Instead, Bendis is seeding a greater mystery here, hoping that if readers like Tony Stark as a character, they'll be willing to stick around for a greater payoff.

While this snarkier, cockier Tony Stark may play well in terms of movie synergies, the real draw of this first issue has to be artist David Marquez. Having toiled on Bendis' Ultimate Spider-Man for the past few years, I feel like Invincible Iron Man is going to be the book that ends Marquez's reign as Marvel's best-kept secret. His artwork looks clean and wonderfully expressive, which works fantastically during Bendis' scene following Tony Stark on a date. Marquez also nails the few action sequences in this book, as Madame Masque dives out of high-rises and flies out of Latverian castles with such a dynamic energy. The way that Marquez and colorist Justin Ponsor render Masque's mask just establishes her perfectly as an ominously beautiful killer.

That said, while Marquez's artwork is absolutely striking, critics of Bendis' writing may find this debut issue a little slow - that with all the dialogue devoted to Tony's new armor, Bendis barely includes it in the story at all. (As much as I enjoyed Tony's date scene, eight pages of a 23-page book admittedly might be a little too long, when there's plenty more premise to establish.) You can sense, particularly at the end of the book, Bendis needing to wrap things up quickly, leading Marquez to have to cramp six panels together before zooming out to an unnecessary splash page cliffhanger. There are definitely a few bugs to be ironed out of this new iteration of Iron Man, but I wouldn't be surprised if this series, like many of Bendis' others, will hold up better once the second issue comes out.

Ultimately, for all of Tony Stark's brilliance, Invincible Iron Man #1's saving grace has to be its spectacular looks, as David Marquez reminds us once more why he's the best Marvel artist you've probably never heard of. This series goes back to basics, casting aside any needless Secret Wars complications, and it's absolutely to this title's benefit. Tony Stark doesn't need the multiverse to make him interesting - he's already got the wit and the weapons to do that for him. As Bendis continues to unwind his story, Invincible Iron Man looks like a promising new take on one of Marvel's most important characters.

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