Review by Ian Keogh
Over the course of its long and rich history Marvel has introduced numerous alternate worlds featuring variations of their heroes, or future or past iterations of known characters. Anything originally occupying more than a single comic was briefly revived to tie in with 2015’s reconfiguration of the Marvel Universe, Secret Wars, with the resulting material then issued as a phenomenal number of graphic novels. Armor Wars inspects the society where Baron Tony Stark is supreme, Technopolis, and where everyone wears a variation of his life-preserving armour to stay alive.
James Robinson and Marcio Takara’s creation of Stark’s world is both fusion of and homage to much of Iron Man’s history. It takes its title from a classic 1980s tale, incorporates the less benign Arno Stark, once the Iron Man of the future, and drops in other references alongside the better known members of Iron Man’s supporting cast. Playing on the bigger picture of Doctor Doom’s recreation of the universe in Secret Wars, it bugs Stark that he can’t recall a time before humanity was dependent on his armour, and this becomes the core of the graphic novel.
Takara’s Technopolis is a convincing sterile environment where the intrusion of technology is universal, and he provides several memorable illustrations on pages that never lack for background elements. He also put in a lot of effort designing the assorted suits of armour worn by the likes of Spyder-Man and the Kingpin, while re-modelling the suits of those who wore them before Secret Wars.
Robinson’s plot has a good twist playing on reader expectations, and it’s well concealed. He further takes the opportunity to incorporate what once its seen is a blindingly obvious genre homage, yet one not previously used. Many of the glimpses into alternate worlds comprising Warzones have been the work of idle writers content to rehash clichés, so Robinson putting some thought into Armour Wars is appreciated. It’s not his defining work, but it’s a thoroughly entertaining superhero graphic novel.