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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Review: Iron Man #6

Potential Spoilers

What do you get when you combine strange aliens like those found in Saga with the humor and charm of Tony Stark?  Iron Man #6 attempts to answer this question.

Beginning a new story arc titled "The Godkiller," this issue of Iron Man tells us what Tony Stark found when he left Earth in his new space armor in the previous issue.  And what did he find exactly?  Namely, a bunch of attractive aliens, some space pirates, and a few robot cops who are charging Tony with the murder of their god.

As the cover of this issue suggests, the god in question is the Phoenix Force.  Yes, apparently when it was not trying to infect the minds of various X-men, the Phoenix spent its down time being a deity for an advanced alien race.  I felt that this was an interesting twist, but, as I will talk about here in a second, the reveal does not match the tone of the rest of the issue.

So far, Kieron Gillen's run on Iron Man has been met with pretty mixed reviews (albeit most of the complaints are more about Greg Land's art than Gillen's writing).  For me, I enjoyed the first arc quite a bit.  Like any new reader to this series, I had never read an Iron Man comic before.  Sure, I've read stories with Iron Man in them, but this is my first time picking up Tony's adventures outside of an Avengers team.  Gillen is a writer who won me over with his recent run on Uncanny X-men, and I felt loyal enough to him to give Iron Man a chance.  Aspects of this issue, however, threatened to undo my enjoyment of the book thus far.  

At the end of #5 we were left with some, frankly, beautiful artwork of Iron Man taking off into the vast reaches of space.  This choice to suddenly explore the cosmos seemed like it was made on a whim, but, hey, this is Tony Stark we're talking about.  While the opening pages of this issue sort of continued Tony's monologue from #5, the story veers off on a very weird track from the promise of this opening.

The majority of Iron Man #6 sees Tony attempting to pick up a woman.  Sounds pretty standard for the character, right?  Perhaps I should mention that the woman in question is blue.  That's right, Tony has the hots for some alien tail.  While this section of the issue certainly has some very humorous moments, I was very taken aback by the sudden change in tone.  In fact, the majority of this issue stands in stark (no pun intended) contrast to the first five issues of Gillen's run on the series.  To say Tony Stark is a womanizer is probably fair...and I'm all for equal opportunity with Tony's choice in women no matter their ethnicity (or species), but this issue made for such an awkward read at times that I almost had to make myself finish on the first go around.

As previously mentioned, we have the twist that these aliens are upset because the Phoenix was destroyed.  If it were not for this reveal at the end, I would honestly have to begin to question whether I was willing to stick with the series to see what Gillen would do.  While it is nice to see that AvX is having some kind of effect on the rest of the Marvel Universe, I can't help but wonder if this "Godkiller" arc is all a ploy to bring Tony into the new Guardians of the Galaxy series (for presumably just one story arc).  Only time will tell, and I am perfectly okay with giving Gillen two more strikes with Iron Man.

It would seem that Greg Land's art is quite a controversial topic.  The first few issues of this series were plagued with art that seemed traced from frames of the first two Iron Man movies.  Fortunately, as Gillen has the character doing things he has yet to do in the films, Land's art has been able to improve.

Although I give this issue a hard time, I would not venture to say that it is poorly written.  Kieron Gillen is a good writer, and he seems very comfortable with the comedic timing of Tony Stark.  What makes this issue so frustrating, then, is that, because I know Gillen is a good writer, then I know his writing can be better.  One can only hope the remaining two issues of "The Godkiller" feature more Iron Man in space action and less inter-species hook-ups.

Rating:  C+

Summary:  In the first disappointing issue of Gillen's Iron Man, we have a random tonal shift that is just barely saved by an interesting plot twist.
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