As the Marvel multimedia machine marches forward, it is only fitting that the publisher produce some product related to the movie set for a May debut. After all, when the first "X-Men" movie was released, there was an astonishing lack of movie-relevant material for fans to seek out and consume. Not so with "Iron Man." Black Widow –- to be portrayed by Scarlett Johansson –- has a couple of mini-series going, so it only seems appropriate that Mickey Rourke's comic book counterpart gets in on the four-color action. The names may be changed to protect the innocent, and the story is certainly different from that of the mainstream Marvel Universe, but the high concepts are here for the fans of the franchise to latch onto.
This issue is perhaps one of the most new-reader-friendly issues of any comic published in the past year. The one presumption it makes is that readers will have some idea that Tony Stark and Iron Man are one and the same. Of course, Guggenheim and Braga don't leave that to chance, as they fill in the blanks for the reader. The duo also managed to pack some pleasant surprises into this issue with appearances from the Red Guardian and Crimson Dynamo.
The art by Briones, while technically solid, leaves a little to be desired in terms of storytelling. When Volstok is devastated, there are only two people present in the panels depicting the destruction, but the story later refers to 3000 causalities. During that same attack, Anton is bemoaning his father, who apparently is in peril, but no distinguishing features exist to indicate where Anton's father may have been, as all of the structures are relatively similar. Briones' style is strong; it is simply his storytelling that needs some goosing.
While I am loathe to refer to this issue as a prequel, there is no denying that this series is a piece of Marvel's marketing push for the next "Iron Man" movie. The first of a four-issue series (do the math, it'll end with plenty of time to be collected and distributed just before or right after the movie breaks) this story has more than a simple revenge tale going for it. There is a mystery to be solved, a mystery that has placed Tony Stark under a pile of damning evidence. If Guggenheim and Braga can bring a few more surprises as in this issue, the rest of the story will most assuredly be entertaining. In related news, and continuing the multimedia push, you can catch a glimpse of the first poster image right here on CBR.