Iron Man #23 (Marvel)

IM23 IM23-animal

Rating: 4.5/5 – Malekith + Mandarin = TROUBLE!
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall.

Another case of a “variant cover success story”.  I only picked up this book because I liked the “animal variant” cover (seen above) AND my Local Comic Shop sells them at cover price instead of trying to gouge me for an extra couple of bucks.  Had that been the case, I’d never have picked up this issue (which is food for thought for Marvel, since their variant ordering policies often seem to make comic shops feel the need to jack up the price on the variant covers, a sale to the comic shop now may prevent a new reader jumping on board and buying the title for months to come).

I’ve not been reading Iron Man for a while now, I drifted away the last time Marvel was fiddling around with his origin (which is mentioned in passing in this issue, Tony now has a brother, Arno and was also adopted).  I’m not a big fan of this, but given that it’s backstory that I have no intention of reading, I let the information wash over me but was appreciative of the fact that Kieron Gillen actually tossed in the information to bring readers who are new to the book up to speed on the status quo, and he wove it into the story fairly seamlessly.  Another smart move by Gillen was weaving Malekith into the story.  This ties us into the bad guy from the movie Thor: The Dark World that just hit DVD+Blu-Ray a few weeks ago and will be familiar to a LOT of movie fans.  But far from feeling like a cheap tie-in, Gillen made the premise work as Malekith comes into possession of the Mandarin’s “Matter Rearranger” ring and this kicks off the Rings of the Mandarin story arc.

Luke Ross does a great job on the art.  He does some great facial expressions and the backgrounds in Shevaun/Dark Angel’s lab really gave me a sense of the place.  By the way, Gillen and Ross take this character I’ve never seen or heard of before and through dialogue, body language, and facial expressions make me feel like I have a great sense of the character after 7 pages of her interaction with Tony.  Quite an accomplishment since I’ve read other comics that cannot accomplish this with a character after several full issues.

I’ve always been a sucker for the Mandarin, he’s one of my favorite Iron Man villains, but it’s really those rings of his more so than the guy wielding them.  Taking the rings and making their acquisition the focus of the story arc has me on board for the duration, this book is now on my pull list.  And, as an added bonus, this issue comes with a code for not only a digital copy of this issue but also for the collection of issues 1-5 of this run of Iron Man.  That’s a pretty good deal for $3.99.  If you’ve been thinking about trying Iron Man, this is a great issue to jump aboard with.

Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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