Monday, 19 May 2014

Iron Man Vol. 1: Believe (Marvel NOW!) Review

Tony Stark tests his new invention:
Iron Man Vol. 1: Believe (Marvel NOW!)

Writer: Keiron Gillen

Artist: Greg Land

Collects: Iron Man #1-5

Background Information:

If you don’t know who Iron Man is by now, you probably shouldn’t be reading this blog. The guy’s been in four movies now and has appeared in two cartoons over the past five years. I therefore won’t waste too much time with the background information only to say that he’s become one of the most valuable franchises that Marvel publishes (and... y’know... still owns the film rights to).


Considering how big a franchise Iron Man is these days, you would have expected a lot more care to be taken when making Tony Stark’s debut in Marvel NOW! Sadly, Marvel’s biggest player at the moment has the worst debut trade in Marvel’s renumbering initiative.

Black is the new red.
Believe’s story is centred around Extremis; y’know, that strange genetic thing that made people puke fire Iron Man 3. That’s really the first problem with Believe: Iron Man 3 wasn’t the worst of the Iron Man films, but if you’re going to reference a film, reference the first one- it was much better. Here, thankfully, Extremis doesn’t blow people up; rather, it  gives them different abilities that can be used for destructive purposes. Somebody has sold Extremis to a slew of different buyers and that bothers Tony Stark, so he goes out to stop everybody who is using it; regardless of their intentions.
and explode in

What follows is a series of isolated battles that have very little to do with each other except that the bad guys use Extremis. I don’t mind it when stories are isolated if they are entertaining. Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye pulled it off amazingly in the first volume. The problem is that writer Keiron Gillen treats these isolated incidents like they’re part of something greater and they just aren’t. There is no reason to care about any of these battles that Stark is launching himself into. Even the threat of Extremis doesn’t seem like it’s that bigger a problem. Stark tends to nullify all the threats before they seem like a challenge and that makes the whole thing seem too easy.

The bigger problem, though, lies in what this book doesn’t do.  Marvel NOW! is all about placing different heroes in new situations that push the boundaries about what we know about these characters. Thor meets gods from different faiths all over the universe. Hawkeye has a life outside of the Avengers. Captain America is in another Dimension and Spiderman is possessed by Doctor Octopus. Iron Man, though, is plain-old, regular Iron Man. When everyone else in Marvel NOW! is being pushed to their limits, Believe give us an Iron Man who is incredibly uninteresting.

In my mind, Tony calls this the "Fat-Suit".
The art doesn’t really help Believe. Yes, Iron Man looks good, but Tony Stark appears to be using Botox. For that matter, so does every character in the book. The women in particular look exactly the same but for their hairstyles. Gillen almost recognises this in the dialogue when Tony Stark tells Pepper Potts that she doesn’t look like all the other women he was involved with because her hair is red. That line says more about the art than anything else I can tell you.

The end of Believe suggests that there is a far better story about to happen, but with how pointless this story felt, you can probably skip straight to Iron Man Vol. 2: The Secret Origin of Tony Stark Book 1 without missing out on anything. It gets a one out of five Botox faces.


+ Iron Man looks good as Iron Man

- Tony Stark, and all other characters look fake

- Story fails to engage

Alternate Option: Superior Spider-Man: My Own Worst Enemy

This is the true spirit of Marvel NOW!; new things being done with their characters that builds interest.

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