Iron Man #1
Iron Man #1
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Kieron Gillen
Penciller: Greg Land

For the past five years, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca have been the pilots of the Iron Man, and have left their mark on Tony, crafting a definitive interpretation of the character that will be referenced for years to come. Kieron Gillen has big shoes to fill. But don't doubt for a second that he isn't the man to take us, and Tony into the future.

Tony Stark has suffered a crisis of faith and is feeling restless. The reasons for his attitude adjustment aren't expressly spelled out here but longtime readers are sure to be able to suss out the reasons, and Gillen has always credited his readers with enough intelligence that he doesn't have to spell everything out. Tony is snapped out of his introspection and carnal distractions by an old acquaintance who needs help. Maya Hansen, the inventor of the Extremis has been captured, and tortured, leaving the incredibly dangerous Extremis loose in the world. Tony's greatest nightmare has always been the Iron Man falling into the wrong hands, so he immediately sets out to contain the outbreak.

Gillen understands what makes Tony tick. Both his opening narration and dialogue with Pepper Potts seem perfectly in synch with both the Fraction and Downey Jr. interpretations of the character. In fact, it's hard to read these pages without hearing Downey Jr. reading Stark's lines. Gillen effectively paints a portrait of Tony Stark as a genius at a cross roads, having experienced a crisis of faith, that crisis being he just might be giving faith a chance. Gillen presents Stark as a flawed man who is always trying for better, even if he does so in the most arrogant way imaginable, and that's just the Tony Stark I want.

The writing is not without flaw though. I was a little lost as to what kind of tech Tony's current suit is based on. For awhile he himself was relying on Extremis before switching over to a nannite infused malleable suit that was always with him. I can't tell if the suit Gillen debuted here was a backstep or a variation/improvement of the nanotech armor. Additionally the idea of tech loose in the world and in the wrong hands is not exactly novel material for an Iron Man run and in fact was the basis of Fraction's debut arc. However this being Gillen's first issue, I'm sure he will have plenty of time to distinguish himself as the story moves forward.

Greg Land delivers pencils for this issue and is sure to polarize fans as he usually does from project to project. Land is known for photo referenced figure work that some call overly stiff and others call "blatantly modeled off of pornographic magazines" (paraphrasing). However I actually think Iron Man will be a great fit for Land's style as the usual flaws in his style fade away when applied to the imposing and powerful presence of the Iron Man armor. Additionally the party scenes at M.J.'s (love that this locale is being used) present some of Land's best plain clothes dialogue scenes to date.

This is a great debut issue and primer for what I'm sure will be continuation of the must read era of Iron Man. If you like complicated heroes and big science rooted sci-fi ideas, I highly recommend this series. This debut issue was Gillen's press conference to declare to the world that he pilots the Iron Man now, and the future looks bright.

Grade: B+

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