Thursday, April 15, 2010

Iron Man Noir #1 – A Review

Iron Man Noir #1 (of 4)

Publisher Marvel Comics

Writer Scott Snyder

Pencils Manuel Garcia

Inks Lorenzo Ruggiero

Colors Marta Martinez

Format 22 Pages of Story and Art

Price Point $3.99

Two points before I get into the review itself. Number one I had the chance to e-mail interview the writer Scott Snyder and get to know him a little which always makes me root for their projects to be good. Two I thought this book would be a total miss, Iron Man Noir sounded like a horrible idea. I was picturing Tony Stark as some sort of private eye who would have to wear armor to protect his heart, Pepper Potts as his secretary, Black Widow as the femme fatale coming into his office or something equally ill fitting. I’m happy to report that Scott got it right and the book was the most fun I have had reading any of Marvel’s Noir stuff. Spider-Man Noir was cool, X-Men Noir was passable, Wolverine Noir was okay, Punisher Noir and Luke Cage Noir were not worth continuing after issue #1, Iron Man Noir is fun, fast paced, action oriented and was a blast from beginning to end and we NEVER SAW TONY AS IRON MAN.

To be totally honest the book should be re-titled Pulp Fiction Adventures starting Tony Stark. It is not a noir story, it is more akin to a pulp adventure type of feeling and that made it work. The other element that made it work was Scott used the cast of Iron Man to great advantage. We had James Rhodes, Pepper Potts, Jarvis and a future Madame Medusa in the book which gave us an instant feeling like we knew who they were. At the same time each character was different enough to be playing a different role so that they were both familiar and unfamiliar. Next Scott let the pictures do the talking when needed and never added unneeded dialogue just to get that per word page rate that some writers must be still living on.

It is rare to see a relative newcomer to comics understand the art form so well. There are times and places for words and explanations and there is a time to let the pictures tell the story. Pacing is a key element in telling a good comic story and this one has the momentum of an Indiana Jones picture in the beginning, followed by a slower pacing afterwards. This section of the book gives us reveals about Tony and his heart problem, shows us an armored suit that will become our Iron Man, but not this issue.

In one issue we are given a cast that we already have a decent handle on, foreshadowing a villain as we see her origin, have a great fast paced Indiana Jones adventure to start it off, learn about Tony’s condition enough to keep us curious, see the Iron Man armor of 1939 and set up Tony’s next adventure in Atlantis for issue #2. Not only do we have the makings for a good mini-series, but there is enough material in here for multiple tales of this Tony Stark.

No matter how good of a writer you have you need to have a good artist. I was surprised to see this Manuel Garcia as his other work was more towards the photo realistic side of things. Whether the inker is the difference or he changed styles for the mood of the story, Garcia did a very nice job with this book. The first half of the book relied heavily on Garcia to tell the story and he delivered. From falling into hidden caves, underwater battles with serpents, to gunfights and battles with Nazi’s he delivered. By keeping the dialogue to its bare minimum the pace was perfect. One of my favorite shots is a head shot of Tony after being blown sky high into the water with James and being picked up in by two bathing beauties in a boat. The sly smile speaks volumes for Tony’s attitude and thought process.

Overall Grade A – This book is having a lot of fun with the concept of putting the familiar into a new setting. It is fun, has an excellent pace, well written, a good story and good art. It is not the comic that will change everything, but it is the comic that will entertain you and is well worth the price of admission.


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