Review by Ian Keogh
It might be the Iron Man name in big logo lettering, but Infamous Iron Man actually has very little to do with Tony Stark or his armoured alter-ego. Sure, the trappings are there in minor form, but this about the repentant Victor von Doom and his life rather than any standard superheroics. Infamous was relatively straightforward. The former tyrant, decided to make amends for his previous life by occupying the role of Iron Man when Tony Stark was believed dead. Someone else is also doing that, Riri Williams, as seen in Ironheart, and her meeting with Doom is the centrepiece of Absolution, although it’s not the set-to that might be expected. In fact, it’s possibly unique in the annals of superhero comics for being two people with good intentions at cross-purposes whose first resort isn’t to beat on each other.
That’s just one of several novel concepts Brian Michael Bendis feeds into this conclusion of his peek into the psyche of Doctor Doom. Another is the role reversal with his former Fantastic Four enemies, the good guys, now seeming anything but, and how does anyone account for an older techno-guru version of Tony Stark. As well as all that, Doom’s mother, believed dead, has now chosen to reveal that’s not the case, finally able to believe in him doing something good. Bendis deliberately cultivates an atmosphere of mistrust and manipulation, and his payoff revelation will still surprise. It’s a diligent piece of misdirection until we eventually meet someone who has a considerable vested interest in Victor von Doom being unable to redeem himself. Unfortunately with that revelation the wheels come off, leading to a self-indulgent finale starting with a massive monologue.
Alex Maleev’s static, gritty style isn’t ideal for a story about a state of the art technological armoured warrior, but The Absolution of Doom isn’t that story. It’s more about the quiet moments and the puzzles, so Maleev’s art works just fine.
Forget that final chapter and this is as fascinating as its predecessor. It is a little disjointed in places as Bendis experiments with the storytelling, but for the most part it’s clever and interesting. Not all Bendis’ work on Iron Man has been. After this the continuities of both the Doom and Riri Williams version of Iron Man merge into The Search for Tony Stark.