Coming off the end of Matt Fraction’s run, I was more than ready for a new writer. Despite absolutely loving his take on the character in The Five Nightmares, and enjoying World’s Most Wanted, by the time the run ended I was bored silly. There had been several issues I’d just plain hated (the Doc Ock storyline, and the “Tony gets drug with dwarves in Asguard” stuff). I also felt like the run had no feeling of continuity, and was rehashing too many old storylines without at least acknowledging that it’d been done before, such as Tony rebuilding his company and reputation from scratch.
I also disliked the direction the armour went in with the “Bleeding Edge” suit, further blurring the line between Tony and Iron Man. I like my Iron Man as a suit of armour, and the way Tony would just magically make it appear to give him super-vision or whatever made it seem like a more generic set of super powers, rather than a really smart guy building a cool suit.
So when Marvel NOW kicked in, I was welcome for the change. The new writer Kieron Gillen has a much more classic grasp of Tony to my mind. Much more the engineer and tinkerer than came across in a lot of Matt Fraction’s run. The initial arc, which saw Tony chasing down rogue Extremis technology felt like a breath of fresh air, each issue an individual story, which built up the larger whole of Tony containing Extremis. The lack of “To Be Continued” felt very fresh in this modern era of comics. I also loved the move back to a modular suit, with Tony adding or removing components as situations demanded. And despite initially being thrown by the colour scheme, I came to really like the movie-inspired Gold and Black armour.
However the latest storyline, seeing Tony decide to explore outer space, is one that I’m still not sure about. After being unhappy with the book for a while, it had been nice to get more of a classic Iron Man feeling again, which was then promptly abandoned. Aesthetically the new space armour doesn’t really appeal to me, especially as I’d just gotten used to the black and gold suit. However, some of the ideas are fun, recasting Tony as a Captain Kirk-esque character does work, and taking one of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and throwing him so far out of his element does have a hook to it, especially with the writer promising ideas like Tony’s high technology actually being quite dated compared to some of the people he’ll encounter. I quite like it when Tony’s reduced to being the underdog and having to rely on his smarts rather than just blasting through problems because his armour’s so much better than everyone else’s.
I’m intrigued to see how long this “Iron Man in Space” ark lasts. Its notable that Tony’s generally on Earth in some other books, and I’d hope its just going to be for a couple of storylines before he heads back. Tony without his company and usual supporting cast isn’t something I really want to read longer term, although I appreciate the way Marvel NOW is trying to put new spins on some of Marvel’s books.