KING IN BLACK: IRON MAN/ DOOM #1/ Script by CHRISTOPHER CANTWELL/ Art by SALVADOR LARROCA/ Colors by GURU-EFX/ Letters by VC’S TRAVIS LANHAM/ Published by MARVEL COMICS
Who doesn’t love a good old-fashioned team-up? As Earth plays stage to what may be the largest alien invasion in history, Iron Man and Doctor Doom pair up for an adventure of their own. Iron Man has combined a new version of his Extremis armor with a symbiote he obtained from one of Knull’s dragons, but the cost was a terrible loss over which Stark feels responsible. Depression sets in and Tony examines his place in the world. Should he keep fighting these fights?
To say the relationship shared between Tony Stark and Victor von Doom is complicated is to say Hell is just a sauna. Doctor Doom is watching Iron Man in the throws of an existential crisis and asks, “Would you mourn me as you mourn him? A man whom in the eyes of many is a villain?” Make no mistake, Doom is neither presenting an affectation of concern or comfort, nor is he probing for Tony’s measure of Doom. This is a classic execution of the Socratic method wherein he attempts to draw Stark out of his wallow and back to the matters at hand. Before they can get to that, however, Iron Man spots a sleigh streaking across the evening sky led by eight reindeer. Driving that sleigh is a man that appears to be Santa Claus – a not-so-jolly individual who shouts in extraordinary profane holiday emojis!
The entire issue is a psychological deconstruction between Doctor Doom and Iron Man as they discuss the merits of their actions, the weight of their consequences as they impact the world, and whether or not Santa Claus is real. This guy does know the first names of our metal-clad men and which lists they are on.
Following the Knull stories as they’ve been releasing has been a task unto itself. So much has happened and it expands beyond the traditional Spider-books. Christopher Cantwell impresses with his ability to crawl into the heads of the titular characters. The story brings a welcome levity from the heft of the overall event while challenging us intellectually. Salvador Larroca and GURU-eFX team up to present flawless depictions of the characters without sacrificing the world around them. Their attention to detail is amazing, especially in the discoloration of the scenery with the grime, rust, and wear. I am a sucker for quality lettering and VC’s Travis Lanham checks off all of the boxes in this issue. Between Tony’s speaker-speech and Santa’s toxic dialogue the lettering helps to flavor the story in the head.
As a reader, I like my crossovers and tie-ins to make sense. I was burned (pun intended) by Marvel’s Inferno crossover event back that ran from 1988-1989. I was not yet reading comics, but when I discovered this event I went on a hunt for the remaining issues. Depending on who you ask, there are 39-41 issues in this event and approximately 60% of them are tie-ins. The worst part is that so many of them were unnecessary or boring and it killed the overall experience for me. It is refreshing to see that Marvel has learned their lesson by making the King in Black tie-ins relevant without being essential. King In Black: Iron Man/Doom #1 is one you should tie into your collection.