Welcome to another edition of the Marvel Rundown! There isn’t exactly a dearth of choice this week but I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to finally talk about one of my favourite Marvel books, Iron Man!

Read on for a review of that book and other new Marvel books in the Rapid Rundown section, all ahead on this week’s Marvel Rundown!

Before we get into the reviews, The Marvel Rundown team would like to take a moment to acknowledge yesterday’s Disney Do Better walkout, and the work that staff at Marvel and across Disney’s divisions are doing to create a more inclusive company for the LGBTQ+ community. As stated yesterday, The Beat stands fully behind all of those who participated in the walkout, and hopes that they lead to real change at Disney and across the country as a whole. We encourage anyone who wishes to help to make a donation to Equality Florida to support their efforts in keeping Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” bill from becoming law.

Iron Man
From Iron Man #18

Iron Man #18

Written by Christopher Cantwell
Art by Lan Medina
Colouring by Frank D’Armata
Lettering by Joe Caramagna 
Cover by Alex Ross

Christopher Cantwell has proved himself as one of the great Marvel writers of the last few years; he hasn’t had the regular trajectory you would see in a Donny Cates or a Jason Aaron; he isn’t exactly the writer who comes in unexpectedly with some sort of fringe book that makes it to the big time, writing an event or some such thing. He wrote a twelve-issue Doctor Doom story, for god’s sake. When it comes to the characters he tackles, he certainly has a type. Men with inflated egos, deluded enough to think that they know what’s best for everyone and refuse to see things from another perspective because… why should they? They’re geniuses!

This issue of Iron Man is really the culmination of his entire run so far, digging in deep into the character of Tony Stark that I frankly haven’t seen done in years, at least not like this. It’s real, messy, and utterly unflattering. Cantwell is a really smart and incisive writer, and he’s been coasting on our collective view of Tony Stark over the course of the series, but I think he felt ready enough to deliver his thesis on the character, a real reason as to why he truly suits up in those metal suits and what exactly that says about the person on the inside.
Iron Man
From Iron Man #18
Cantwell’s incisive in the sense that he perfectly encapsulates a character in a really simple manner, like that issue of Doctor Doom where Doom falls apart after Reed Richards earnestly congratulations him on a feat he has accomplished. This issue isn’t necessarily as clever as that scene as a whole, but still manages to convey so much about Tony in a really wide-reaching way. The Jekyll and Hyde comparison seems trite at first but keep reading as Cantwell proves his hypothesis; it’s really quite good writing.
Artistically, this series has been very strong with the wonderful Cafu leading the charge on that front, with reliable artists like Angel Unzueta coming in for a fill-in or two. Their styles are quite similar, which is why the choice of Lan Medina for this issue struck me as odd, but the more I think about it… it may be a great choice, because this issue doesn’t necessarily take place in the world of the series as it zooms out to examine Tony by delving into mind palace material as well as flashback panels.
Final Verdict: BUY. If you haven’t been reading this series for any reason, I really recommend going back and checking the trades out. It’s really a wonderful take on Iron Man and one that I think will be revisited for years to come after its conclusion. It’s smart and disarming, and gorgeous.
From Iron Man #18

Rapid Rundown!

  • Demon Days: Blood Feud #1
    • In Demon Days: Blood Feud #1 by Peach Momoko, with English adaptation and dialogue by Zack Davisson and lettering by Ariana Maher, we get the fourth and final part of the ongoing Yashida saga. This story pits our hero, Mariko, and her loyal sidekick, Logan, against this universe’s version of the Hulk. And after seeing what the quantum virus can do to a Hulk in What If…?, seeing what spider venom can do or cannot do to a Hulk was grotesquely satisfying. There are only a small number of interviews with Momoko, who has a background in tattooing, but Marvel’s breakout star has listed her influences as horror, military aesthetic, and pink (Japanese softcore erotic) films. Those influences shine through with her choice medium: watercolor. Although this is the final chapter of Mariko and her sister Ogin’s storyline, loyal readers of this gorgeous and compelling comic series will be very happy with the last page reveal. — ROK
  • Elektra: Black, White & Blood #3
    • I’ve missed the first few issues of the Elektra run of the Black, White & Blood series of character-centric anthologies because I prefer to wait to read these stories in the oversize trades in which they’re collected, but a story by the legendary Ann Nocenti? No way I’m trade-waiting for that! “Split,” which features art by Federico Sabbatini and Mattia Iacono (and like all three stories is lettered by Joe Caramagna), is set after the flashback in 1980’s Daredevil #168 and features a fortuitous meeting between Elektra and a very familiar face. The story utilizes the limited-palette concept well throughout but especially on the final page. Next up, Paul Azaceta’s “With a Passion” offers an exercise in formalism. “Weapons of Choice” by David Pepose, Danilo Beyruth, and Andres Mossa sees Elektra facing off against Black Widow in the Red Room and makes a compelling argument for Elektra’s inevitable victory, not to mention it demonstrates just how effective a whole spectrum of red can look. —AJK
  • Shang-Chi #10
    • Shang-Chi’s grandfather has traveled from his mystical realm to kill anyone who shares Shang-Chi’s blood. This is another solid story arc as writer Gene Luen Yang and artist Marcus To further expand the story of Marvel’s greatest hand to hand fighter and his Five Weapons Society. This comic stays consistent in the quality of art and story as we follow Shang-Chi’s leveling up to his cinematic counterpart. —GC3
  • X Deaths of Wolverine #5
    • The mini-Wolverine event comes to a close with a solid brawl between the Wolverine family and the Phalanx-infected Omega Wolverine. Though there were some points where this felt like the continuation of Benjamin Percy’s X-Force run, these “two series that are one” ended in a satisfying way that furthered Wolverine’s Krakoan arc meaningfully. While I enjoyed X Lives a lot, this was definitely the stronger of the two Wolverine minis. The stealth Moira story moved along some broader plots from the X-Line as a whole and gave the line the extra oomf and momentum it needed. I loved seeing Sage get a moment in the sun here, and seeing her wield the Cerebro sword is a delight. The last page reveal here is a shocker, though in hindsight it feels a lot more obvious that Percy has been leading to it the whole time. The art here is stellar, and Federico Vicentini and Dijjo Lima bring their a-game. The fight between Logan and the Omega Wolverine is really well paced/laid-out, and I’m hoping to see this art team on more books soon. I want to see where the developments of this series go sooner rather than later, as I think this succeeds in pushing forward the beats of Inferno in some interesting ways. If this is where the Destiny of X is headed, I’m sticking around. —CB

Next week, Destiny of X officially begins, and the Beyond era of Spider-Man ends!