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Saturday, March 9, 2013

Review: Iron Man #7

Remember in my review of Iron Man #6 where I expressed disappointment that a great writer like Kieron Gillen wrote an Iron Man story that changed its tone a bit too much?  Now we have the next issue of Gillen's "Godkiller" arc.  Does this new chapter of the story do anything to improve upon the mistakes that were made last time?  Read on to find out!

In Part 2 of "The Godkiller," Tony Stark is in prison and awaiting trial for having killed the Phoenix, god to an ancient alien race.  Help comes in the form of a robot calling himself 451, but will his plan to save Tony from execution really work or does this robot have something else up his sleeve?

From the very beginning of this issue, there is a very Star Wars-like vibe to the prison which Tony finds himself in.  Gillen must have had this in mind as Tony makes a joke about being frozen in carbonite.  Not only are there Star Wars jokes, but, now deprived of his armor, Tony even appears to be wearing clothes reminiscent of Jedi robes.  It is an odd choice in terms of art, but I was willing to roll with it as I felt that maybe the nod to the work of George Lucas was intentional.  Perhaps it would have been better if I had taken this as a sign that the problems of Iron Man #6 were not going to be fixed by any means.

This issue introduces yet another new character in the form of 451, a robot tape recorder of sorts who has gone against his programming and can now remember everything in the universe he was sent to spy on.  Sound familiar?  Robot against his programming is either the main plot or at least a subplot of pretty much every science fiction movie ever.  In fact, it would seem this issue as a whole is an entire play on classic and, in the case of the finale of this issue, more recent sci-fi films.  In other words, the weird tonal shifts present in the previous issue remain and, yes, they still annoy me.  As far as robots gone against programming who now have nefarious plans afoot, 451 is a decent enough character.  It seems a little late that he was introduced into a three issue arc so I have my suspicions that Gillen may not be done with him just because "The Godkiller" ends next month.  Although pretty much the only interesting thing 451 has to say is that he has contacted Tony's "friends" and that they are on their way to help him.  I am almost 95% sure that these friends will be the Guardians of the Galaxy as Iron Man is going to be present in their comic as well.

After the escape plan hatched between 451 and Tony is finished taking up 60% of the issue, we begin to see the plan unfold.  451's plan?  Have Tony enact an ancient alien law that says he can fight in hand-to-hand combat to win his freedom (one challenger for every charge against him).  This is a semi-interesting twist, but much of the imagery from this section of the issue seems to be using John Carter as inspiration.  While it could be mere coincidence that a comic from a company owned by Disney is trying to help out Disney's biggest flop in recent history by using imagery from it, things just seemed a little too similar.  I will not fault Gillen for this, though, and I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt.

The writing for this issue as a whole is pretty mediocre throughout.  I feel that Gillen is still trying to do something different with Iron Man.  Perhaps he is merely wanting to test the waters, but this experiment is not really working for me.  I don't mind a story that gets Tony out of his armor from time to time, but this arc is just not succeeding where it should.  Iron Man does not have to always be an introspective series, but it should at least be as exciting to read as the character can be.  Gillen has a great sense of humor and I will admit that Tony's disgust at assuming 451 is a lawyer made me laugh out loud.  Humor can not completely save a book, though, and I am disappointed to say that this issue did not do much to redeem the previous one.

On the art front, Greg Land's work is pretty good considering the lack of huge visuals in this issue.  It would seem the main reason this particular issue is so mediocre is that the images are so unoriginal.  So maybe this is more Land's fault than Gillen's, but comics are a team effort and I think that both are a bit to blame here.

I do not mind Gillen exploring a bit with what he can do with Tony as a character, I really don't.  In fact, I think it is noble of him to try new things as that is going to be the best way to keep the character fresh going forward.  Writers should always try new things, because who wants to really be stuck writing the same stories over and over for decades?  Not everything is going to work and I'm sad to see that "The Godkiller" is not really working so far.  I hope this does not discourage Gillen from doing a bit more experimenting in the future, but I hope this may cause him to see his limits.  Perhaps things will turn around in Iron Man #8, but I'm not holding my breath.

Rating: C+

Summary: Iron Man #7 continues the disappointing "Godkiller" story arc by replacing the random tonal shifts with excessive borrowing from science fiction films.
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