Iron Man #4

ironman4Written by KIERON GILLEN
Pencils & Cover by GREG LAND and JAY LEISTEN

I like Iron Man. The characters is appealing to me and I enjoy the high tech mecha-element of the series that makes it relatively unique. A billionaire playboy industrialist who dates super models and designs bleeding edge armor to tackle problems that would stagger the global peacekeeping forces, he has a lot going for him. New series writer Kieron Gillen is a fan favorite and with good reason. His work on X-Men and Thor is phenomenal so I was pleased to hear that he had landed the (admittedly unusual) job of writing Iron Man.

Then Greg Land arrived, the sultan of the light table. The man is notorious for using two to three of the same photographs for every single character he draws and copying that image ad nausuem in the same issue. It makes Tony Stark look like his corpse-like smile is the result of a stroke rather than a sign of smooth debonair coolness. But given that much of the series will revolve around guys in armored suits duking it out, that may not be such a big problem, right?

The newly redesigned Iron Man armor is a step sideways into the 'modular' idea giving Land some room to have fun with various new designs each issue custom-built to tackle the situation at hand. The previous couple of issues introduced a light stealth armor so this issue sees the bulking 'war machine'- like suit make its debut. Hunting down enhanced beings using the Extremis formula that made it onto the black market, Stark is on a kind of Armor Wars 2013. His latest trip takes him to the catacombs of Paris where thirteen enhanciles are in waiting.

When he gets there, Tony finds himself face to face with some weird demonic cult using Extremis to create the ideal host for a dark God. Appearing to be sexy nubile succibi, the enhanciles have him at a disadvantage until he finds the one remaining scientist who can give him all the info he needs. The sigils drawn into the walls seem to hold them back, so Tony adapts to the situation and builds a symbolic shield from which he can decapitate the creatures one by one (using the suit's built-in targeting while he himself closes his eyes). In the end, he discovers the thirteenth subject is quite docile so he refuses to kill her and instead brings her back to NYC... kinda like King Kong only sexy (and pregnant with a demon seed).

The issue is an interesting step in a different direction that I am not at all familiar with in Iron Man who normally deals with technological threats (I know that the Mandarin believes that his rings contain alien spirits, but to my knowledge he is the exception). The one major drawback is the artwork which is unusually horrible in this issue.

Notice Pepper Potts remarking that all women look alike to Tony (a self aware statement that Land cannot draw them any other way?) then brushes her long locks with what appears to be a mutant monkey hand.


.... shiver. It appears that Land forgot to to draw a hand, arm, chest or background here so inker Jay Leisten decided to wing it and give it a go with disastrous results. It's a wonder Tony didn't rtun away screaming, but then again she is facing away from him asking what she looks like so maybe this is a sly hing at next Summer's event comic, invasion of the monkey men!

Someone do something about Land's artwork! This is a $4 a month book and it's written very well. It deserves a good art team as well, not the half-assed tracing that Land is throwing at the page.