Rating: 4.5/5 – The Latest “Who Is Tony Stark?” Story
by ComicSpectrum EiC Bob Bretall
There have been lots of stories delving into the “secret origin” of Iron Man’s alter ego Tony Stark. The only certain thing is that however many Marvel does, if you wait long enough, another one will come along. The previous origin, by Kieron Gillen that ran in issues #9-17 of the 2013 Iron Man series, was designed to make you think Tony was really the genetically engineered alien child of Howard & Maria Stark. At the end of that tale it turned out he really was not, the genetically engineered baby was Arno Stark and Tony was really adopted from an as yet undisclosed parentage. This Iron Man series explores that setup and we learn who Tony’s “real” parents are, with the culmination of the story being his adoption by Howard & Maria Stark, in this issue (which is not a spoiler, as the whole “Tony was adopted” thing has been around for almost 3 years at this point).
Brian Michael Bendis is in his sweet spot writing these kinds of stories. He excels at relationships and characterization. This is the kind of story that people who are looking for slam-bang super-hero action may abhor and characterize as boring. It’s right up my alley. Not a single costumed hero anywhere in the issue but I was riveted by every character interaction beautifully rendered in Alex Maleev’s signature style. Over the last couple of issues we’ve been introduced to Tony’s birth mother. I like her. A lot. We learn who his father is in this issue and also the circumstances of his birth that lead to his being given up for adoption and ultimately ending up with Howard and Maria Stark. The story all hangs together and makes sense. Which is another thing Bendis excels at, taking lots of story threads and weaving them together into a beautiful tapestry.
International Iron Man #7 was a great issue and a wonderful conclusion to the story behind Tony Stark’s birth and adoption by Howard and Maria Stark. This issue concludes the run of “International Iron Man”, the story of Tony and his birth mother in the present day will be continued in the new Invincible Iron Man #1 coming soon. This series may have been overlooked in the crush of titles on the stands, perhaps dismissed as yet another Iron Man book. And it is. But it’s an Iron Man book that is rich with character building and backstory, perfect for readers who like this sort of thing as a palate cleanser in between superhero books with lots of mindless fighting. Issues #6 & 7 can be read for the specific details of Tony’s birth, though the entire series gives great insight into Tony’s formative years and the entire series will no doubt be collected into a single trade paperback sometime soon. This was a great conclusion to this series and I’m glad I was reading it. I’ll definitely be following Bendis and Tony Stark over into the New Invincible Iron Man #1 next month, where I’m also looking forward to Riri Williams taking on the iron mantle.
Reviewed by: Bob Bretall
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