Review: Superior Iron Man #1 – You Can’t Change a Leopard’s Spots
I’ve read comics a long time and Iron Man was never a character I could get into. He wasn’t likable and he seemed to (in recent years at least) be involved at the center of a lot of bad things. “Original Sin”, “Avengers vs. X-Men” and “Civil War” were not exactly the best examples of Tony Stark being a good guy. Being portrayed by Robert Downey Jr. in the movies is the most positive thing the character has been through. So with “Superior Iron Man” writer Tom Taylor is taking Tony back to basics and allowing him to be the jerk that he is with pretty much no restraints.
“Superior Iron Man” takes place seemingly after “Axis”. Thanks to the spell Scarlet Witch and Doctor Strange did on Genosha, all the heroes and villains personalities are inverted. The introduction explains that “most were eventually restored” but Tony Stark was not. He’s launched Extremis 3.0, a new app that turns people into the “best” version of themselves in primarily looks. This has caused San Francisco to devolve into madness.
“Superior Iron Man” #1 is completely successful at setting the stage for a brand new Tony Stark story. He’s completely unlikable but that’s the point. You’re not supposed to like him but you are supposed to be interested in what he does and what happens to him. Tom Taylor completely succeeds at doing this. I feel like I’m watching a train wreck (in terms of Tony’s life, not the quality) that I can’t ignore this book. I fully believe that in time, this will catch on the way “Superior Spider-Man” did because there are a great many people who are intrigued by characters like this.
This issue is also helped by how funny it is. Taylor really doesn’t hold back on making Iron Man terrible and that’s why it’s so funny. He says things that aren’t offensive but are so over the top that it’s almost unbelievable. I have to admit that I have not read “Iron Man” in quite some time so I was pleasantly surprised to see how large a part Pepper Potts had in all of this. She’s necessary to all this because there needs to be someone telling the character behaving badly that what they’re doing is wrong. You need the voice of reason and Taylor understands that. I’m more excited to see what Pepper’s role down the line will be. We’re going to get a lot of terrible Tony Stark before we start the road to redemption. That is compelling storytelling.
Yildiray Cinar does a fabulous job on art. Tony Stark has so much swagger and is shows in every single panel. Even when he’s laying back in the pool his expression screams douchebag. Stark visibly looks like he’s having fun doing terrible things and it adds to the comedy of it all. The new Iron Man suit has had some snark thrown at it but it’s really sleek and very cool overall. I think Cinar has created something very new with it. It fits with what this story is.
“Superior Iron Man” needs to not be taken so seriously. This is a fun comic book with a character who’s intentionally terrible to other people. This is not a superhero comic in the basic sense. If you can get past the fact that Iron Man is not a typical “good guy” anymore then there’s no reason to not enjoy this. More importantly, this is not the first time he’s been a less than heroic figure. The history of the character shows us this. It’s going to be the journey he takes back to being a hero that will pull readers in and keep them there. “Superior Iron Man” proves that the old cliche is quite true. A leopard can’t change its spots.