IRON MAN #23.NOW
Written by Kieron Gillen
Art by Luke Ross
Published by Marvel Comics
Release Date: March 19, 2014
Kieron Gillen does his best to condense 22 issues of continuity into a few pages of exposition, and for the most part he succeeds. As a jump on issue this isn’t a clean slate, but it also isn’t a #1 issue. At issue #23, even with the .NOW moniker, readers must assume some continuing plot threads, and Gillen balances servicing old and new readers with this issue. He introduces and announces characters in an organic manner that never feels contrived, and continues the plot of the comic through those introductions. Gillen has created a very interesting set of circumstances for Tony Stark in this title, and the richness of all the subplots currently in play is evident in this issue. There is a lot going on this comic to set up the status quo and lay the ground work for the new storyline, but it isn’t overwhelming and feels like good value for the buck rather than an info dump. Gillen writes Tony Stark well, his playboy nature and quips front and center, but not to an annoying degree. He finds good balance with the character and the involvement of Dark Angel is brilliant. The dialogue between the two characters is electric and Gillen writes great chemistry between the pair. Dark Angel serves as a great glue to hold together the world of Iron Man and the mystical aspects of what he is being faced with, and it is entertaining to read Gillen’s take on her. Arno is an interesting dynamic going forward, and Gillen writes Malekith very well. This isn’t another battle with a villain we’ve seen Tony take on a hundred times, and there is a level of excitement that runs through the book because of that. Gillen’s pacing in this issue is strong, leaving readers with a great cliffhanger for the next issue, and a lot to look forward to.
The strong script combines with excellent art from Luke Ross to culminate in a really entertaining story. Ross’ work is sharp and features some interesting layouts to keep some of the dialogue-heavy parts of the issue visually interesting. His style suits the tone of this comic perfectly and he tells a lot of story with subtle details throughout the comic. There is a mischievousness in Malekith at all times, and Tony looks to be burdened by past events throughout the entire issue. The character has been hit with some pretty jarring details in the past couple arcs and Ross makes sure the weariness shows. Dark Angel is given the appropriate amount of punk to keep her edgy but not undermine her intellect, and the overall style of the issue is very befitting an Iron Man arc like what he and Gillen are setting up. At times, the colour work by Guru e-FX is vibrant, at times to the point of distracting with respect to character’s eyes, but this is a relatively minor quibble. The work with Malekith makes up for it, though it would be nice to see some of the colour work toned down a bit with respect to human features.
Gillen and Ross had a tightrope to walk for this jump on issue of Iron Man, and I believe they did it well. A strong foundation is built for the arc going forward and the relevant parts of the past issues are touched upon to bring new readers up to speed. This creative team has the potential to do some special things with Iron Man and I recommend any lapsed or on-the-fence fans give this one a shot. I highly doubt you’ll be disappointed.
The Verdict: 8.0/10