Monday, July 11, 2016

Invincible Iron Man #11 Review - Marvel Mondays

Secret Agent Man

Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Mike Deodato, Frank Martin and Clayton Cowles
Cover Price: $3.99
Release Date: July 6, 2016
Publisher: Marvel
Review by: Branden Murray

Before we started Marvel Mondays, Invincible Iron Man was a book I was reading on my own for a period of time at the beginning of the most recent Marvel relaunch.  After a few months into the All New All Different Marvel lineup, I examined my pull list because it was getting as bloated as Jim after the triple 9 challenge (9 hot dogs, 9 beers, 9 innings at a baseball game). I realized that this was one of the books I was basically indifferent about continuing.  I could keep reading it because I enjoyed it well enough but didn’t care to keep buying it monthly for $3.99 a pop.  Then a funny thing happened a few months after the Iron Man “break up” and Jim caved to the demands of the Get Fresh Crew to publish Marvel reviews. So here I am reading this book again, let’s see if I can sum up my indifference into a few coherent thoughts shall we?

We start things off with some pissed off board members of Stark Industries trying to wrestle control of the company away from Tony. See, Mr. Stark has been undercover investigating some Techno Ninjas and the Inhuman they work for named Tomoe, who can control technology. The issue with being undercover for Tony though is he has been missing and assumed dead by those at the company for a few weeks now since nobody can get ahold of him.  The board members' plans are scrapped when Mary Jane Watson ends up accepting a previously offered job at the company saving Tony’s hide. Now this feels weird and unearned since M.J. continuously rejected the offer in previous issues and never gave a reason for accepting it here. However I guess we do have to start wrapping some of these ongoing mini threads up in this series since another reboot and fresh number one issues are upon us again, so I’ll go with it.

From here, we jump to Riri.  For those uninformed, Riri is a girl who built an Iron Man suit in her college dorm room because the blueprints were leaked online.  The last few issues we’ve seen her building, joy riding, and testing out the equipment, not to mention coming off as a pretty likable character. For this issues teaser of Riri, we’re treated to her swooping in to stop a prison break causing the makeshift armor to fall to pieces. After that,  she has a mildly friendly exchange with authorities in the scene's aftermath, but that’s about all we get from her.  It's quick, but it’s still the most enjoyable aspect of the issue to me.

Now back to what we all came to see...Iron Man not wearing the suit and not being Tony Stark, but apparently looking exactly like Brandon or Dylan from 90210 (take your choice they looked exactly alike) in his undercover disguise. But first, back in Techno Ninja Land, our lady villain, A.K.A. Tomoe, A.A.K.A. the Techno Golem is discussing how War Machine escaping and now returning is bad news. She explains her operation no longer has the element of surprise on our heroes and may have to disappear as a result to fight another day. 

See, War Machine has called for backup, in the form of the Avengers, to help find the missing and presumed dead Tony Stark. When Ms. Marvel is finally able to track him down she gives the O.K. for the Avengers to ransack the Techno Ninja base and we’ll see ya in 30 folks. In a single splash page, a conflict that started back in issue six is over …. and god damnit I want to drop this book all over again so badly.

I understand what I think Bendis was trying to accomplish here with this story arc. He tried to strip away our hero to his bare bones and make him face a conflict where he couldn’t use technology to his advantage.  None of this worked in my opinion because Bendis also stripped away the charm and appeal of Tony Stark in the process.  The story was dull, lasted too long, and was too drastic of a change from the fast paced introduction to the first five issues of this series.

I’ll openly admit I find Brian Michael Bendis comics to be a mixed bag and this series feels stuck in a similar place his X-Men books were prior to Secret Wars.  I enjoyed them at first but they all eventually turn into too little going on, too little payoff, and it feels like everybody is always standing around interrupting each other just talking.  It’s like you're trying to read a conversation that’s occurring in a loud lunch cafeteria and just reminds me of the ten years I spent teaching high school watching teenagers interact. If you can't tell, it exhausts me when I read books written this way.  I’m sure the art by Mike Deodato  would look great as just pencils or with only inks but the colors with the inking used is so heavy and dark its extremely boring to look at.

Bits and Pieces:

To sum things up, we have a conclusion to an Iron Man story arc that involved very little Iron Man, but plenty of cameos, a Tony Stark who can’t be his clever charming self, and a threat that was interesting at first, but who literally just disappears into the background with little resolution by the story's end.  If any of that intrigues you or you’re looking for one of the last stories featuring War Machine then I guess this might be for you. I just feel like this series has taken a complete 180 from how it began in the first arc (issues 1 – 5) and that's not something working in its favor.


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