Tony Stark wasn’t always a hero; before he understood that his weapon creation was amorally buffing up the military industrial complex, he was a real detestable jerk who had more money, more fame, and more sex than any upstanding common man could be comfortable with. Superior Iron Man poses the following question: What would happen if the old, wildly selfish and ethically questionable Iron Man from before his heroic days was plopped into the modern Marvel continuity? This absolutely brilliant idea, made possible by weird, comic booky gobbledygook in the Axis comic event, digs deep into the character of Tony Stark. The first issue of this new series from the creative team of writer Tom Taylor (of Injustice: Gods Among Us and Earth 2 fame) and artist Yildiray Cinar, delivers on this fascinating concept in exemplary fashion. Superior Iron Man #1 prompts thought on one of the most beloved superheroes of today while still offering loads of explosive and aesthetically sleek joy.
Starting off with an exciting and boisterous action scene that pulls in She-Hulk, Superior Iron Man gloriously declares right off the bat that it is a freakin’ comic book, dumb thrills, silly quips and all. It’s immediately apparent that Cinar’s art is a perfect fit for superhero comics, given the two spectacular splashes delivered on the first three pages. The visuals have a wildly dynamic sense of movement to them, offering palpable impact and speed. The tone is kept quite light throughout the comic, with funny and satisfying set-ups and dialogue for the action.
Soon enough, the action is moved away from to focus on dialogue-heavy scenes that set up the plot, which uniquely decides to skip past a lot of expected exposition in a successful attempt to start off with an instantly exciting bang. This new, mischievously-minded Tony Stark has developed a smart phone app that grants users with supermodel good looks and fitness, but with a catch: after a free trial that teases out the pleasure of life spent with this new body, users have to dish out a pricey, daily fee for Stark to collect and personally profit on. The ethical implications of this are hinted at in this issue in a subtle-enough way to come off as a rather clever and intelligent examination of contemporary issues of body image, class and corporate greed.
Thanks to the modern angle of this story idea, Superior Iron Man’s revamped Iron Man manages to piss off the modern common man. Much of this is accomplished with aesthetic, the rest with dialogue. Tony Stark, with his done-up hair, sexy, muscular physique and handsome mug parades himself around gorgeous women in his luxurious pool attached to this astonishing mansion. A smug look of self-importance and impatience for others constantly fixes itself on his face. When donning his suit of armor, he looks even cooler, and he knows it. The new suit liquidates itself onto his body, and glows in a futuristic style that “lights up in ways that please me,” Stark says himself. “It’s sexy as hell.”
The massive appeal to the Iron Man character in today’s America is helped in large part by the fact that Tony Stark embodies American ideals at their best. He’s a genius businessman who simultaneously does work that fills his bank account with money and improves the lives of the people. He’s a rich, cocky playboy, but a loveable one with a heart and a smart, progressive outlook. This version of Iron Man offers America’s ideals at their worst; he’s a money-grubbing, vaguely psychopathic asshole who uses others for his gain, spitting in the face of any notion he’d see as bleeding heart socialism.
This is precisely why Tom Taylor was the perfect choice for this story; his DC work has proven himself more than capable of twisting honored heroes into scary, uncomfortable foils of themselves. The first issue of Superior Iron Man casts a net over a few modern day issues, smartly exploring exactly what the Iron Man story says. In addition to this, this comic substantially understands and embraces how to have fun and how to tell a story in a way very specific to superhero comics. While it’s just the beginning, it is so good that I can’t bring myself to declare it any less than masterful.
Story: Tom Taylor Art: Yildiray Cinar
Story: 10.0 Art: 9.0 Overall: 10.0 Recommendation: Buy
To check out Matt’s about.me, click here.