Ain’t no rest for the wicked…or the Marvel Universe, for that matter. This week, the publisher launched a second Iron Man ongoing series, with Brian Michael Bendis once more at the helm. Given the flood of ongoing series debuting at the publisher, can Bendis manage two on-going Iron Man series at the same time? Will he switch up the formula or shake things around at all?
In addition, last week I took a look at Jim Starlin’s Infinity Entity and wasn’t keen on what I found. This week, we’ll look at the second issue to see if this mini-series is worth continuing with.
Finally, the next big X-Men universe event, Apocalypse Wars, began this week. While some websites are spoiling the actual content of the issue, we’re just going to tell you if it’s worth your hard earned bucks– it’s what we do here at The Marvel Rundown.
International Iron Man #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis Artist: Alex Maleev
Colors: Paul Mounts Letters and Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles
In International Iron Man #1, Tony Stark, having learned he was adopted in Invincible Iron Man, tries to discover who his real birth parents are. I’m honestly still unsure why this plot thread needed an entire ongoing to explore, but if we have to do this, I’m glad we’re doing it with artist Alex Maleev. Maleev’s expressionist art style adds a sense of pulp and noir to the book’s proceedings, proving that International Iron Man will at least be visually distinguishable from its sister title.
So…let’s talk about the writing. This might be the most negative that I have ever gotten on this column, but Brian Michael Bendis’ script in International Iron Man #1 is subpar at best. The pacing is all off. Major events get too little time while a single flashback sequence that doesn’t serve the immediate story takes up an absurd amount of space. Clearly, Bendis is sowing the seeds for International Iron Man‘s future by using the flashback to introduce a character who will likely become important as the series continues. However, this character was given very little room to make a good first impression on the reader, compounding the pacing problem and ultimately leaving me unsatisfied with the entire issue.
Seeing Bendis and Maleev back together should be cause for celebration, but this comic book breaks too many narrative conventions to little positive effect. As a result, International Iron Man appears to be the lesser of the two Iron Man ongoings. Sorry, Alex Maleev.
Verdict: Browse. That’s all that needs to be said about this disappointing comic that desperately needs to find some new narrative ground to stand on.
The Infinity Entity #2
Writer: Jim Starlin Penciler: Alan Davis
Inker: Mark Farmer Colors: Wil Quintana Letters: VC’s Joe Sabino
This week, Adam Warlock has to justify his physical existence to another character that has more power than him. It’s a great metaphor for my relationship to this book. So, has this series provided a justification for its publication? Well…at the very least, The Infinity Entity #2 has more of what Adam Warlock fans might actually want from a comic that stars the character: weird Starlin-esque Gods, a couple teases of Thanos, and some existential thought from Warlock himself.
As I mentioned in my review of the first issue, this book isn’t for new fans and even if you are one, it’s still hard to completely understand. It’s main redeeming factor is Jim Starlin’s gift for purple prose. No comic that basically consists of one guy talking to himself ad-nauseum should be entertaining, but here we are.
Alan Davis’ artwork continues to be remarkable. A splash page at the back of this issue is lovingly depicted with much splendor, giving readers who aren’t interested in reading this book a pretty solid reason to at least flip through it.
Verdict: Wait for the trade. This issue shows marked improvement over the first, but it’s ultimately for Starlin fans rather than curious new readers. If you are a Starlin fan, though, have at it!
Extraordinary X-Men #8
Writer: Jeff Lemire Artist: Humberto Ramos and Victor Ibanez
Inks: Victor Olazaba Colors: Edgar Delgado and Soto Color Letters: VC’s Joe Caramagna
This week’s Extraordinary X-Men #8 kicks off the next big X-Crossover: The Apocalypse Wars. In this quirky event, each X-Universe title will face its own version of Apocalypse, with none of the individual series crises actually crossing into one another. It’s a pretty novel experiment, but it is not off to a great start because although Extraordinary X-Men #8 is marked with The Apocalypse Wars banner, it only contains the slightest hint of the event to come. The beginning of the end comes with a whimper rather than a much-needed bang.
Writer Jeff Lemire is a comics writer extraordinaire, so even though Extraordinary X-Men is missing X-Men legends Wolverine and Cyclops, it never stops feeling compelling. Lemire’s dialogue never feels forced. The comic is full of moments of levity and emotional depth that help the reader truly connect to all the characters, proving that Lemire has a good understanding of this world of misfits, rebels and rogues.
Unfortunately, the pacing of this issue really does not work for me. The comic starts in one place and then zooms to another and then another, quickly catapulting into the X-Crossover. In complete incongruity with his natural character relationships, the movements of Lemire’s plot in Extraordinary X-Men #8 feel robotic. The whole thing feels entirely editorially mandated, without organic payoff or excitement. While many of the other Apocalypse War books have a direct tie to the titular X-Men villain, this one doesn’t, making this issue’s last page reveal feel completely unnatural.
In addition, Humberto Ramos’ art features a ton of wonky anatomy that doesn’t sit well with me. There were so many moments where Storm’s insane hair detracted from the solid writing in a scene. The artist fairs better in action scenes and definitely has some raw talent with drawing, but he’s clearly not for everyone.
If there is light at the end of this tunnel, it’s the wonderful back-up comic written by Lemire and drawn by Victor Ibanez. This sweet story not only features more of Lemire’s slick character work, but also Ibanez’s great command of natural anatomy.
Verdict: Browse. The back-up is great but The Apocalypse Wars tie-in is thin.
Next week we’re taking a look at your favorite Marvel character: Hyperion…wait…WHAT?