Iron Man, the hero so beloved that every new series should be a slam dunk for Marvel, begins again with a new #1 from writer Christopher Cantwell and artist Cafu. Following in the steps of Marvel giants such as Matt Fraction, Kieron Gillen, Brian Michael Bendis, and Dan Slott, Cantwell relaunches the iconic Tony Stark's series with a high concept. But does it work?
This Iron Man relaunch follows Tony Stark as he enters a midlife crisis. He feels disconnected, purposeless, alone… and he wants to change that. This concept could work well for Iron Man, one of the most complex characters in the Marve universe, but unfortunately, there is no inciting incident. Instead, Tony is already mid-midlife crisis as the issue starts. The reader is given a boring montage of Tony going through every aspect of his life, having a boring conversation after a boring conversation at a breakneck pace. Tony's tweets string together multiple id-page scene changes, and conversations told through dialogue captions, creating the feeling that this issue isn't a story but rather a collection of strange scenes that, when put together, are narratively shapeless.
The interactions on social media, both what Tony himself posts and what other people write in the replies, feel so far from actual Twitter and Reddit interactions. It feels almost as if they were written a time traveler from the 90s who was allowed to scroll through the apps for thirty seconds apiece. Why is Tony Stark tweeting? Why is he tweeting the way he's tweeting? The scenes are meant to show that he is disconnected, but there's very little insight into what has driven him to act this way and, instead, a lot of commentary on the way he's acting. It feels less like an Iron Man comic and more like someone who read an Iron Man comic telling you a rushed version of what happened.
The art by Cafu and colorist Frank D'Armata is great, pairing realistic lines with a dark, slightly painterly color palette. The letters by Marvel mainstay VC's Joe Caramagna are also great as always. It's the story in this new Iron Man run that stumbles out of the gate. Tony Stark is the perfect hero to star in this concept, as he is a compelling enough character that his book doesn't need to be all action, all the time. I'd read an Iron Man book with no action whatsoever, as long as Tony was well-characterized, and the story was coherent. This new run is, unfortunately, very far from both despite the high potential of the concept.