Iron Man #44

Posted: Tuesday, July 17
By: Jason Cornwell
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Writer: Frank Tieri
Artists: Keron Grant & Jamal Igle (p), Stull & Perrotta (i)

Publisher: Marvel Comics

While investigating the ruins of Askew Electronics, Tony is able to locate the remains of the device that was used to trigger the explosion that destroyed it, and with this information he's able to discover the unique make-up of the device. After a quick interlude, during which Tony discovers that he no longer has a job, we jump back into Iron Man action. Switching into his new armor, Tony is able to track down another one of these explosive devices before it goes off, and he's then able to track the signal that sets off the device back to it's source.

At the other end he finds an old enemy, who has decided to start up a technology firm, and has decided the best way to insure it's a success is to eliminate the competition. What's more this villain has joined forces with another one of Iron Man's sparring partners, as Iron Man soon discovers when he is ambushed from behind, and finds his new armor isn't as perfect as he believed it to be.

The big selling point of this issue is that it's the debut of the new armor. While it does look a bit clunky, I will concede that I'm looking forward to seeing this latest version of the armor in action. The extra bulk does project a sense of power, and while Keron Grant may soon be inwardly cursing himself for coming up with such a complex design, I do like the fact that this armor has a busy look to it. As for the new additions to Iron-Man's powers, given he's one of only a handful of big-league heroes who relies entirely on technology for his powers, giving him a few more opinions to draw upon is always a welcome move.

However, the new gadgets that fans came up with aren't anything too innovative, as most of them are abilities that past armors sported (e.g. the cloaking field), or rather simplistic powers (e.g. energy blade/shield). There's nothing all that special about this latest armor, but I'm sure most fans will be happy with it.

However if you come into this issue looking for anything more substantial than the debut/test run of the new armor design then you've come to the wrong place, as Frank Tieri only included a bare bones plot to hinge this issue's main event around. There are a couple surprise guest villains in the final pages, and I'm sure that some fans will be pleased to see these two form an alliance, but when the master-plan of these two is laid out one has to wonder how a villain with a head that big fails to realize that eliminating your competition in such a blatant fashion is going to end up burning you in the end, as the investigation of your untouched status becomes more apparent. It's far better to use the talents of the other partner to make the crippling blows look more like accidents. The only real moment of enjoyment in this issue is the scene where Rodney objects to Tony's attempt at being a common man has one glaring inconsistency.

Keron Grant must have his fans, and they'll probably tell you that his seemingly undisciplined art is actually a carefully crafted style that is designed to convey the energy of the action. What his art isn't designed to do to convey the story in a clear fashion, as his panel layouts are highly dubious, and the various perspectives that he delivers are rather odd, as we have panels where the main objective seems to be to have one guessing what we're suppose to be looking at.

As I stated above, the armor design itself does look nicely powerful, but frankly in an age where technology is moving in the direction of making itself more compact, one has to wonder why the principal difference between this recent armor & the past versions is its increased bulk. Then again I've always stated that my preferred Iron Man battles are the ones that leave his armor a mess of exposed circuitry, dents & cracks, and this new design gives us more armor to damage.

Final Word:
The new armor isn't bad, though given the hype this update has been getting over the past few months, frankly I was hoping for a bit more than a simple reworking of the armor design, and the addition of a few new tricks. In the end, this issue is all razzle-dazzle, but once the glare wears off it becomes pretty easy to see that that's all there is. The plot of this issue is merely any excuse to show off the new armor as Tony tests out the new features almost as if he was reading the checklist we find in the letter page. Even worse, when push comes to shove the armor's debut is hurt by the fact that in order to fashion the cliffhanger, Tony's new armor is crippled by a single attack.

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