Everything you know about Tony Stark is flat out wrong! Well, at least some of it. Brian Michael Bendis – not content with changing the way we look at Daredevil, not happy with having killed Peter Parker and introducing Miles Morales, now Bendis has decided to twist around Tony Stark’s origin story. And I’m glad he did.
These things can go one of two ways, south or …not as south. It’s hard to come up with something truly inventive that fits into the character’s past seamlessly. Often it seems forced or contrived – a cheap ploy to sell books. The “Spider Clone” story is a great example of this. Or Jean Grey not “really dying” as everyone saw in X-Men but instead put in suspended animation by the Phoenix Force. How nice of it (If you don’t know those references, just say a prayer of thanks). So when Bendis started playing around with Tony Stark I had my doubts, but he has earned the trust of readers for a good reason. He respects and honors the work before him and is a fan himself.
His new direction for Tony in International Iron Man is nothing short of amazing. Finding out that Howard and Maria Stark are not his real parents sends him on a search for the truth that brings him to a rarely seen past life and a love that has remained unknown (and yet supposedly someone on his mind every single day – the only inconsistency that tugs at convention). What I like about Bendis’ writing is that he is able to make Stark snarky without being cocky. Stark is confident and still really smart. And Stark can still be caught by surprise. The backstory on his parents was intriguing and ties in perfectly with the new reality of Howard Stark having helped to form SHIELD. Yet, Bendis doesn’t make their background so outrageous that it makes you wonder why no one has uncovered this before. They aren’t secret superheroes. They don’t have secret powers. They aren’t mutants. They’re people. Granted they are spies, but people spies. Not Black Widow level spies. It’s refreshing. I’m sad the book is ending, but so glad the story will continue in Invincible Iron Man #1.
And speaking of Invincible Iron Man, it seems like this book will also come to an end and relaunch as Infamous Iron Man. The Invincible book has been the one involved directly in the Civil War II storyline and in recent issues there was quite a jarring jump between storylines. Tony ends up going to Japan to undercover a plot revolving around sophisticated technology. He fakes his death and poses as “Richard Franco” who looks suspiciously like James Franco of Spider-Man fame (by the way Spider Man – Miles Morales – makes an appearance in this storyline). He is on the verge of uncovering this underground organization when he is pulled out by Rhodey and the Avengers. Then suddenly all of Stark Enterprises is in shambles (literally), Tony loses the (relatively new) love of his life (not Pepper Potts), and his best friend is dead. Bendis is using the Invincible book to do double duty – craft his own stories and add on to Civil War II. If you’re not following Civil War II it might seem disjointed, but it works. The best part? Doctor Doom becomes Tony’s friend. At least in his eyes.
What I like about Bendis’ writing is he is bold and innovative. The new Infamous Iron Man will see Doctor Doom assume the mantle as we explore whether or not Doom can change his stripes. The new Doom who appeared in the Iron Man books after Secret Wars is a refreshing take on the bent on magic and technology dictator we had known before. This new Doom might legitimately be a good guy. At least I’m hoping so. I’m tired of villains like Loki who pose as good guys for a while and ALWAYS revert to form. It would be cool for Doom to be another Rogue or White Queen – a little twisted, but ultimately good. And as for Invincible Iron Man it will be refreshing to see Riri Williams take the helm – literally. I love the idea of a brilliant young teenager taking on the mantle and the fact that she’s African American is just cool. Bendis shines when writing teen angst (re: Miles Morales) and is great at multiethnic casting. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for Riri.
So with Tony given a new past and a new future, the Iron Man books look to be a fun romp while Bendis is on the book. Hopefully both Deodato (Invincible Iron Man) and Maleev (International Iron Man) will stay on the books with him. Both are long-time collaborators and Bendis not only knows how to write to each man’s artistic strength, but both artists know how to accurately interpret Bendis’ words which make each pair formidable in their own right. Be on the look out for these books to show up in your local comic store some time soon!
- If you want to catch up on the Invincible Iron Man stories you can find Vol 1 and Vol 2 on Amazon or your local retailer.
- International Iron Man is available for pre-order and collects all seven issues of the series. You can find that on Amazon also.