Comic books are all about set up and execution, two things at which Brian Michael Bendis is exceptional. The forward to International Iron Man #1 is one sentence… ONE SENTENCE! That’s all any reader with even the tiniest knowledge of Iron Man needs to jump into this book, and that in itself is impressive.
Bendis sets up this new Tony Stark adventure by throwing us back into his college life twenty years ago. I may be an omega level Marvel fanatic, but Stark’s college years are a grey area for me as far as how much reading I’ve absorbed in those years of Tony’s life; so this is a welcome visit to the past.
Tony, channeling his inner Trent Reznor, pursues knowledge, snark, and a woman (of course) while studying in foggy London town. He’s basically the same sarcastic genius that we’ve all come to know, just without a direct purpose yet. The mystery to unravel in this series is who Stark’s parents are, since apparently the ones he’s known his whole life aren’t his birth parents. This path has been explored with other long standing comic book heroes, and it’s not always the best, but in Lord Bendis we trust, right?
Things get shocking and dark towards the end of this issue, thanks to a well timed attack by HYDRA. In a rather stunning turn of events, Tony Stark actually kills someone to protect the family of his love interest. Personally, I was not expecting this one bit and it’s now a dark secret that Tony has kept to himself for all of these years as a hero.
Within one issue we are introduced to an immediately interesting cast of surrounding characters, a tie to HYDRA, and a huge change in the dynamic and perception of one of Marvel’s biggest characters. This all adds up to a cliffhanger that will make readers’ mouths water for issue #2.
The artwork for International Iron Man #1 starts out a bit bright and progressively gets darker and grittier as it goes on; which follows along with the story and action as it gets darker and more violent towards the end. While I like the Nine Inch Nails approach to a college-aged Stark, I’m pretty sure he only opens his mouth once or twice throughout the entire issue. Every characters’ expressions are warm and illustrate the narrative flawlessly, just not much going on with Tony in that department as he comes off a bit sedated throughout most of the book. The action and environments however, are not lacking any emotional appeal; especially when things get dangerous and bloody.
Why are all heroes going international? It’s not just Spider-Man broadening his horizon anymore, if the trend continues who will be back home to pick up everybody’s slack? Maybe this will end up playing a part in the upcoming Civil War II or another crossover event caused by some sort of fallout.
Overall, this is a wonderful Iron Man tale, a very interesting and exciting beginning to another chapter in Stark’s history. Bendis takes a big ambitious stab at altering the image and makeup of Iron Man, and I for one cannot wait to see how it unfolds.