Tony Stark: Iron Man Volume 1, “Self-Made Man”, is out this week, and while it can be fun at times, it lacks substance.
The series is written by Dan Slott, and drawn by Valerio Schiti, with colors by Edgar Delgado and letters by Joe Caramagna. Travis Lanham lettered issue #3, which also featured coloring help from Rachelle Rosenberg. Max Dunbar and Gang Hyuk Lim were the artists for issue #5, with Dono Sanchez-Almara on colors.
“Self-Made Man” marks the beginning of the Dan Slott era on Iron Man, following Brian Michael Bendis’ run. The story revolves around Tony Stark’s return from the dead and the various goings-on at his company, Stark Unlimited.
If that summary seems kind of vague and general, it’s because “Self-Made Man” doesn’t really have a concrete plot. It’s more about introducing readers to the new status quo and setting the tone for the series. Granted, there are things that happen to set up a larger story that will pay off down the road, but this volume lacks focus.
But what it lacks in focus, it makes up for in fun. Slott’s Iron Man is about pushing the boundaries of our imagination, and that’s exactly what the writer is doing with this series. In the first issue, Stark suits up in a giant mech and battles Fin Fang Foom. There’s the series in a nutshell: big, over-the-top fun. Schiti and Delgado’s art is energetic and vibrant, reinforcing this feeling. Tony Stark: Iron Man looks and feels like a Saturday morning cartoon.
The series’ greatest strength, though, is in its characters. Each one has a unique, well-written voice and adds something different to the series. Tony is the charming egomaniac with a heart of gold that fans know and love. His supporting cast counteracts that overpowering personality and provides balance. If you like lots of witty banter in your superhero comics, Tony Stark: Iron Man is for you.
Slott also introduces some deeper, interesting concepts. The series brings up questions about the soul, and about identity. Jocasta Pym – by far the story’s standout character – is constantly torn between fighting for the rights and individualism of Artificial Intelligence and wanting to fit in with humans. Her arguments will make readers rethink everything they’ve ever thought about robots and AI in fiction.
However, that being said, Tony Stark: Iron Man is unfortunately a rather shallow comic. It sets up these interesting, aforementioned concepts, but barely scratches the surface on them. It plays much more heavily into the lighthearted fun when it has the potential for much more. As a result, it feels like a generic, run-of-the-mill superhero comic. It’s got its bright spots, for sure, but it’s not particularly memorable.
If future volumes develop the deeper, philosophical ideas instead of relegating them to the background, the series can really stand out. In the meantime, we have an enjoyable, albeit hollow, story that kind of blends in with the tidal wave of superhero comics the Big Two puts out every week.