Writer: Fred Van Lente
Artists: James Cordeiro(p), Scott Koblish(i), Studio F's Martegod Garcia(c)
The Invincible Iron Man investigates the complete desertion in a Stark Industries plant inside of China. Hmmn...China. Iron Man. It sounds like--Could it be? Yes! It's a classic Iron Man villain, Marvel Adventures style.
Just because this character operates under the auspices of an all ages title doesn't mean he's less dangerous or sillier. Van Lente treats the character as a respectable, intelligent threat. There's no sense of dread however. No sense of stupidity leading to artificial drama. Van Lente's Marvel Adventures Iron Man is pleasant good guy vs. bad guy fun.
The villain contrasts strongly against Iron Man. This Tony Stark is a hero not a monomaniacal dictator. Free from the stain of weapons manufacturing, this Tony Stark is also innocent, a little naive and wants to be liked. He wants to be above all else a good boss. The villain knows he's boss and lords it over his slaves.
Events seem to portray some darker feelings among his employees toward Tony Stark, and Stark's sidekick Jim Rhodes indicates that these feelings are understandable given the separation of social class. It turns out however that Van Lente sets up the reader for an unexpected good vibe that fits in with the gist of the villain's modus operandi. No Yellow Claw is he. It also reinforces the optimism of the Marvel Adventures line without patronizing the reader.
Van Lente in addition constructs a joke with what seems to be a cute, throw away scene involving the lovely Pepper Potts. What's interesting is that what Van Lente does with the joke strengthens Pepper Potts' character as well as her importance to the company. The punchline eschews the idea that Pepper's misgivings over Rhodey's behavior were simply what would be in reality likely considered by the all boys club of business "girly whining."
James Cordeiro's, Scott Koblish and Studio F's Manuel Garcia combine their forces for not just super-hero action but also soothing background detail. The artists' ability to engineer technopoli and build meticulous mecha that never the less remains aesthetic and unobtrusive reminds this reviewer of Byrne Robotics. The artists are a boon to this title, and while their treatment of the human characters is a little cartoony, they also give them a gamut of expression that can be subtle or overt.
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