Iron Man: Big Iron

Iron Man: Big Iron
Iron Man Big Iron review
  • North American Publisher / ISBN: Marvel - 978-1-3029-2551-2
  • Volume No.: 1
  • Release date: 2021
  • UPC: 9781302925512
  • Contains adult content?: no
  • Does this pass the Bechdel test?: no
  • Positive minority portrayal?: yes
  • CATEGORIES: Superhero

Christopher Cantwell spends the opening chapter of Big Iron as if wielding a massive broom, beginning with Tony Stark divesting himself of his previous life and deciding to explore humanity rather than technology. It’s not entirely convincing, but has surprising moments, not least the villain who appears. It takes a brave writer to install the Unicorn as the main threat in the opening chapter of a new series, a loser who surely hasn’t been seen in decades, consigned to the past as utterly redundant. That also applies to the Melter, who also appears, lasting a single page, the Phantom and the Scarecrow. Also puzzling is deciding on Patsy Walker, Hellcat, as a supporting character, and scaling back on Iron Man’s armour to a more classic look. Nothing about the approach is obvious, but it is interesting, and it’s where Cantwell scores.

As he continues he paints Stark as reckless and lost, with Hellcat providing a conscience, a voice of reason and an ego-pricking honesty. Without his company and with Iron Man reduced to a sideline Stark is presented as mystified by the rules we all live by. “You can’t recline your seat until the Captain says”, Tony is told on a flight. “I’ve never heard of that rule”, he responds, only to be tartly informed “that’s because you don’t own this jet”. More home truths are on their way as Cantwell forces events rapidly forward. It’s pleasing to see compressed storytelling again. There’s no reason to see every step taken as long as the dots join.

Artist Cafu is also new to Iron Man, and unlike most artists on the series from years gone by, his brief is to make Tony look dishevelled rather than stylish and Iron Man seem tarnished, not polished. He accomplishes that with ease, and for the most part this is a great looking graphic novel, allowing for a few static figures.

Events may be compressed in one sense, but the primary villain is going to be around for some time. It’s artificial intelligence Korvac, powering himself up to historical levels where he was able to wipe out the Avengers with a thought. He’s not there yet, but as Big Iron progresses he steps a fair distance toward it. Cantwell dumps in a new supporting cast in the final chapter, although one choice seems very strange, even allowing for a policy of flying under the radar. Perhaps that’s something to be dealt with in Overclock, trailed with a cliffhanger ending. At times Tony’s self-pity is laid on too strongly, but this is a reboot with a difference, and on this basis Cantwell’s on course to supply the best Iron Man seen in a good decade.