Of all the new Marvel titles launching, Infamous Iron Man has stood out to me since announcement. Brian Michael Bendis’ Invincible Iron Man run is great, where Dr. Doom (previously a God in Secret Wars) has been occasionally showing up to politely bother Tony Stark. Doom is absolutely one of the greatest comic book villains of all time, but what role does he play in this new universe? His body is apparently healed of all his trademark scarring, giving him some sort of new lease on life, and then they slap an Iron Man armor on him? I’ll bite, Marvel.
Infamous Iron Man #1 begins with a meeting of the Cabal, a handful of super villain lords of power, where The Hood aggressively shares his admiration for Doom and is mystically banished to India. Fast forward to today where old Fantastic Four villain, Diablo, is trying to reestablish his status in villainy by kidnapping Maria Hill. Diablo plans on extracting information about the Hellicarrier and Triskelion from Maria. Doom arrives, puts a stop to the inferior foe, and frees Director Hill. Victor Von Doom then proceeds to tour around Tony Stark’s usual points of interest, declaring his plan to rectify his previously villainous lifestyle by becoming Iron Man. But where is Tony?
This issue is a confusing experience for even die-hard Marvel fans. When the book was announced – along with another Iron Man title not starring Stark – the assumption was that Tony won’t make it through Civil War II alive. But the puzzling thing is that we’re only halfway through CWII, and he’s still very much alive and at the center of it. Was this book meant to be released after the event ended?
There’s a moment in Infamous Iron Man #1 where Amara basically confirms that Tony Stark is dead, followed by Doom interacting with a hologram of Stark that makes no reference to the real Tony actually being alive. The only logical explanation is that this issue was intended to come out after Bendis’ Civil War II finale, in where Stark meets his demise. So CWII must be way behind release schedule and for whatever reason Marvel went ahead and shipped this book anyway.
Aside from the confusing mess of timeline and scheduling, the story itself is a middling effort. The opening scene is classic Doom all his villainous glory, and seeing Diablo quickly handled was a delight. But once Victor starts exploring and explain his new lot in life, Infamous Iron Man becomes quite dull. I am more than willing to buy into Doom attempting to take a different path, but there is nothing driving him to it that carries any weight. The cliffhanger at the end of the issue is interesting enough for those of us who are well-read Doom worshipers, but there’s not much else to come back for in the next issue
As always, Maleev provides beautiful panel and character work. With how confusing this issue was, if the art was sub-par I may not have eve made it completely through to the end. Doom looks stunning in the opening scene, as do Diablo and The Thing. However, when it’s finally revealed, the Iron Doom suit is extremely underwhelming, but I don’t know what else I was expecting. Overall, Maleev does a fine job, I just wish Bendis had delivered on his end of the bargain. This creative team has done wonders together in the past.
Infamous Iron Man #1 is a confusing mess, but is that due to poor writing? Or is it due to Marvel completely dropping the ball on scheduling? I’m leaning more towards poor scheduling because I think Bendis has a plan with all of his books surrounding Civil War II. My guess is that Marvel decided not to listen to their star writer and went ahead with the release. Either way, this comic is not very good. Other than the perfect opening scene and the decent cliffhanger reveal at the end, there isn’t much to take away from this issue. I’m not even going to get into Ben Grimm being a S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent. Hopefully, the next issue can find something to draw readers in and clear up the confusion. (In the meantime, long live God Doom.)