World Comic Book Review

A Deep Six’d Publication

7th December 2022

The Nice Young Man

International Iron Man 1
Marvel Comics, May 2016
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Review by DG Stewart, 9 April 2016

This title has been promoted both by its cover art and in marketing copy as having an espionage flavour to it. There is little evidence of that in this first issue aside from a flashback action scene. Instead, it is almost certainly the most interesting Iron Man concept to come from its US publisher, Marvel Comics, since British writer Warren Ellis’ work on the “Extremis” story in 2005-2006.

Marvel Comics’ property Iron Man has been long portrayed as both a billionaire industrialist, and as a gifted inventor who has created a series of weaponised mechanical suits. There has been repeated a updating of Iron Man’s origin by Marvel Comics over the years (the character’s spark of inspiration to build a mechanised suit of armour came when as a hostage of the Viet Cong during the Vietnam War). The character was depicted during the 1980s as struggling with alcoholism, has had a succession of unsuccessful relationships, and has been replaced in his persona as Iron Man on many occasions. Iron Man is a foundation member of Marvel Comics’ premier superhero ensemble called “The Avengers”, has saved the world countless times, and a few years ago was depicted as Secretary of Defence in the US government. But the fictional life before the kidnapping event which caused the title character of this series to become Iron Man has been a void, until now.

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The Old Game

Black Widow 1
Marvel Comics, May 2016
Writers: Chris Samnee and Mark Waid
Review by DG Stewart, 4 March 2016

In 2006 acclaimed British comic book writer Grant Morrison was engaged by American comic book publisher DC Comics to write a revival of the comic “The Authority”. This arrangement boded well: Mr Morrison is a very popular writer with a quirky and eclectic imagination, and “The Authority” had a cultish following and historically strong sales. But Mr Morrison wrote the comic as a “trade paperback”. A trade paperback is an aggregation of monthly series, usually a collection of a storyline laid out in four or five monthly issues of a title, or five consecutive issues forming part of a greater storyline. As a consequence, issue 1 of Mr Morrison’s version of “The Authority” was devoid of any action, and consisted of the narrative character engaging in such tedium as brushing his teeth. (The subsequent issues was also inexcusably late.) Mr Morrison was so disheartened by scathing reviews that he did not continue with the series. Mr Morrison had made the mistake of writing for the collection, and not for the individual issues.

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