Over the past couple of years, Marvel has been introducing lots of new characters to carry on Legacy monikers like Spider-Man. Instead of taking over the full Iron Man name, young Marvel Universe genius Riri Williams has chosen the identity of Ironheart. With the publisher trying to get the character as established as possible, it would be a really good idea for Generations: The Iron #1 to have a really, really good script–read on for our thoughts on the one-shot pairing Williams with Tony Stark in this week’s edition of The Marvel Rundown:
Generations: The Iron #1
Written by Brian Michael Bendis
Illustrated by Marco Rudy, Szymon Kudranski, and Nico Leon
Inked by Szymon Kudranski, Will Sliney, Scott Koblish and Nico Leon
Colored by Marco Rudy, Dean White, and Paul Mounts
Lettered by VC’s Clayton Cowles
Alexander Jones: The next issue of Generations is here! With the crazy track record of writer Brian Michael Bendis lately, I’ll admit I was enormously excited to venture into the pages of Generations: The Iron #1, but wasn’t expecting a fantastic comic. AJ what were your first impressions of this oddball Generations one-shot starring Iron Man and Ironheart?
AJ Frost: Hey there Alex! As you know, I’ve been skeptical about Bendis for awhile (remember the Armadillo incident?) so I wasn’t sure what to expect with this latest Generations offering of Iron Heart & Iron Man. The results were a mix for me. The overall story is somewhat interesting (excluding the undertones of corporate fascism), and the art is actually very off-the-beaten path for such a mainstream title (while still being “superhero-like” in scope). But the dialogue itself was a bit off-kilter and uneven. So, to repeat, a mixed (iron) bag.
Jones: Trying to decipher what Bendis was trying to do with Iron Man here drove me wild. Bendis mixed up Stark’s power set and aged him up, but gave him very similar dialogue to what the current Tony Stark would say. A grizzled, old Iron Man would think differently. Also, the relationship he had with the kid Avengers and some of the other supporting cast members felt so superficial. It is quite remarkable how empty this comic book alternate future world feels. I wouldn’t want to live there despite Stark telling me how great it is in every other sentence.
Frost: There was something very off with Tony on this issue. Never mind he’s been aged up considerably physically rather than emotionally (he’s older than Moses was in the Bible!), but he also proudly brags about how much better the world is when all we readers is that it’s terraformed from some alien plant. On a deeper level, the problem with the story is that there seems to be no motivation at all for anything. Riri just “appears” in the future, meets some future Avengers, meets Tony, and then flies around a bit. There’s no emotional core at all. No stakes. It makes for circuitous reading. Am I reading too deeply into this?
Jones: I don’t think so. Over the past couple years a lot of Bendis scripts have dialogue loaded with characters kind of winking and nudging at each other about how great they are. Comics like New Avengers striking a better balance of this stuff at least in the early part of the run. Having a Stark so confident also kind of took the stakes out of the story. Switching gears just a bit, there have been lots of discussions online about how it took several artists to get this book out of the door. Marco Rudy is a spectacular comic book talent and it would have been great to have him draw the entire issue but it is divided between an army of artists–how much (if any) did this bother you AJ?
Frost: While I noticed there were nine unique names pencilers, colorists, and inkers, the overall issue art works solidly together. But since you mention it, the disparate style does detract a bit as one reads through the issue. On the second read, it became more clear. The first five pages are the strongest of the whole book and really are spectacular. The use of pastels strengthens the illustrations and make them pop; it doesn’t look like your run-of-the-mill comic in that respect.
Jones: This comic would have been stronger if Rudy could have done the whole thing and I have no idea what kind of deadline Marvel was on where they were trying to get this thing out the door. The first few Rudy pages of the book look so beautifully inspired and baroque. The tone of this art would have been too dark for what Bendis’ wordy bright script called for had Rudy drawn the entire book but man this thing would have been really beautiful. None of the art in this issue offended me, but it did not mesh well with the other creators. Having someone better at drawing characters standing still in the midst of lots of dialogue probably would have been more beneficial overall. AJ I’m going to pass the baton over to you with a question: what was up with the fight scene? Did that not feel obligatory?
Frost: You mean the fight scene that was randomly on the issue and had no narrative weight at all? It was a completely (and unnecessarily) surreal turn in an issue already stuffed with surreal imagery. I wasn’t a fan of it.
Jones: Did you notice this comic went into the future instead of the past?
Frost: Oh! That is interesting–that is something new for these Generations one-shots. Why do you think Iron Man went into the future while every other story so far goes into the past? Do you think it’s a metaphor for something?
Jones: Pushing the Iron Man story into the future kind of takes some the weight out of Iron Man right now–I also resent how much of a blank slate Riri is.
Frost: Are you implying she’s too mundane a character to take up the Iron mantle? Or possibly Marvel doesn’t know exactly what to do with her quite yet?
Frost: She was only introduced recently, right? It’s far too early to put much emphasis on her character if we don’t know it quite yet. Readers have had years to know the idiosyncrasies of Tony Stark. She’s only a neutral character as of right now. But for those of us following Marvel right now, it can be frustrating when we’re given a new character to root for but have no reason to root for them yet because they haven’t made an impact in their own universe–it’s a double-edged sword.
Jones: Bendis is writing her as too much of a blank slate here for my tastes. It seems like Stark gets all the obnoxious dialogue that has some character and she just watches from the sidelines. Giving her moments where she passes out makes her feel even more obtuse to me. Bendis should give a strong role or characteristic that sets her apart from the other teen heroes in the Marvel Universe. Why would you want to take on the moniker of Iron Man who has fallen to such steep lows? Do you know what I’m saying? I wanted this issue to accomplish something and seeing a younger Iron Man in the flesh could have been a huge moment for her early career–I felt so much more connected to Miles Morales in this stage.
Frost: Maybe you’ve pointed to the weakness of the entire Generations enterprise. Except for a strong issue here or there, these one-shots do feel a bit empty because the rapports they’re trying to build feel so vacuous. Why should we care about the past and future iterations of characters coming together if all they’re going to do is wonder why they are meeting each other in the first place? Where’s the spark? The fire? The oomph?
Jones: A handful of these Generations issues which have contributed something noteworthy. Wolverine and Jean Grey had something to say about the title characters and got something out of their dynamic. This tale might have something more interesting to say if it was Iron Man at the beginning of his career.
Frost: So rather than go way into the future, you think the reverse might have been more effective, as in Riri going into the past to meet with Generation 1 Iron Man? Or something along those lines?
Jones: Yes. However I’m going to completely contradict myself now: AJ, to me it feels like the pieces were all here. Stark’s aged-up, grizzled role paired with a younger Riri in the far future with an alternate status quo and Marco Rudy! This book had so many things going for it and still didn’t deliver.
Frost: I’m with you. It had moments where it approached being excellent and just fizzled.
Jones: Even Marvel faithful can skip this one, what do you think?
Frost: Even the unfaithful can skip it!
Next week is huge. Captain Marvel Generations! Secret Empire: Omega! Oh…and some book called Runaways?
Fruit snack aficionado. @AlexandComics