Review by Ian Keogh
With reboot after reboot characterising so many Marvel superheroes, it must be difficult to bring something new and fresh to a relaunch. Beyond his phenomenal writing skills, Brian Michael Bendis doesn’t really bother with a dog and pony show, and that’s refreshing. When dealing with Tony Stark’s alternately charming and frustrating personality Bendis captures him perfectly. The intention is that you hear Robert Downey Jr’s movie Stark delivering the dialogue, and Bendis leaves no room for doubt that this is the intentionally shallow, but supremely capable technological engineer. Yes, he runs off at the mouth on a couple of occasions, but as there’s progress from chapter to chapter this isn’t as problematic as the extended glib dialogue on some other Bendis Iron Man projects.
With every new Iron Man reboot there’s a modified form of his armour, and the choice in 2015 was for a simplified looking, almost manga styled version of the red and gold template, presumably designed by artist David Marquez. It’s an impressive look, and certainly one that’s easier to draw repeatedly, lacking all sorts of finicky on-view accessories, although Marquez throws in a few panels of those as well. On other projects he’s been a superb storyteller, and he brings that to Iron Man, alternating dense spreads such as the sample art with action pages needing few panels to instil the appropriate awe.
Reboot’s novelty is seeing an up to date technological superhero dealing with ninjas and magic, respectively below and above Iron Man’s usual remit. Stark has history with Madame Masque, and she’s now acquiring objects it’s best she didn’t have. In terms of Marvel continuity it’s important to note that Reboot occurs in the wake of 2015’s Secret Wars, as in a blink of an eye Marvel will revert Doctor Doom to the despot he’s always been, and this brief interlude of a more concerned and kindly Doom will be no more than a footnote. It plays out more fully in Infamous Iron Man, but is effective here, as is the surprising introduction of someone else well known to Marvel readers.
Distil the superhero action element of the plot and it doesn’t amount to much, but Bendis’ note perfect Iron Man characterisation and dialogue more than compensates, and Marquez ensures everything has a shiny 21st century gloss. Their collaboration continues with The War Machines.