Iron Man #1 Review

Iron Man #1

Written by Kieron Gillen

Pencils by Greg Land

Review by Bobby Shortle

Kieron Gillen is one of the most interesting writers working today chiefly because of his masterful hold on the dramatically absurd. His work in Uncanny X-Men and Journey Into Mystery has been a perfect balance of over the top lunacy and emotional resonance. Iron Man #1 has the seeds of some of these elements, an AIM scientist,who looks more like a televangelist, peddling extremis or the screwball comedy way Tony extracts some information from a subject, but unfortunately the issue feels safe at its best and boring when it’s at its worst.

This isn’t to say Iron Man #1 is all around bad because there is a lot of clever plotting and character work happening in these pages. Gillen writes snappy dialogue and I love the clever way Tony comes up with to get his armor on. The truth is my problem with the relative safety of the book’s narrative might also be the thing that makes it a solid #1.

Gillen does a fine job of weaving in Tony’s origin as Iron Man, his extreme level of intelligence and even his spotty personal track record in a way that feels organic and unobtrusive to the tale he is telling.  Gillen also brings us up to speed with what exactly the technological boogeyman known as extremis is, even if it’s not totally clear why Tony is so damn scared of it. But, this is only a first issue, you can give all the goods away just yet.

The weakest link in Iron Man #1 is its art. Greg Land’s pencils strive for and attain a certain amount of realism, but in doing so, many of the panels come off as static poses. The Iron Man armor itself looks great, but his faces are a bit odd and even at its best the action in the panels seems posed. There is one very impressive thing about this books and that’s the use of lighting to set the mood. There is something about the red glow of a sunset on the gold of the armor’s faceplate or even the strategically placed lights inside a bar that gives the book a nice cinematic feel.  It’s just too bad the other aspects of the book’s art don’t deliver in the same way.


Wait and See – Looking back over my review I’m struck by how negative I sound on what is actually a book I quite liked. My main disappointment comes from the fact that the book is exactly what I’d expect out of a Tony Stark story, and that’s not what I’ve come to expect from Mr. Kieron Gillen.

Greg Land’s art is weak, but not off putting enough to turn me off from the title, and so I will give the Armored Avenger at least one more shot. I will say, if this is your first experience with the character, and you are looking for something that you can read having only seen the films, you will find this a welcoming and interesting number one.

Bobby Shortle is founder and Editor in Chief of Talking Comics as well as the host of the weekly Talking Comics Podcast. When he's not writing about comics he's making short films which can be found at and talking…

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