As “Indomitable Iron Man” #1 shows, Iron Man’s visual iconography lends itself well to the black and white treatment with fantastic art by Will Rosado and Howard Chaykin showing off that fact. While the art in this comic shines, the writing doesn’t match, delivering merely average or adequate stories that simply provide a means for the art to be its best.
In the lead story by Paul Cornell and Will Rosado [***], Iron Man has to rescue a space shuttle from a Stark-designed probe whose artificial intelligence has screwed up a little. The story is little more than 22 pages of Iron Man doing cool things in space and fighting a malfunctioning probe that’s determined to terraform Earth, but that does mean we get 22 pages of Rosado art. He uses a strict black-and-white look with no grays, which is effective since the metallic look of Iron Man lends itself to contrasts of bright and dark. Rosado’s angular, shadowy art uses dotted shading instead of grays, a technique that also works with the look of Iron Man by alluding to blueprints and schematics. The fight between the hero and the probe is stunning as it’s placed in an alien landscape after the probe alters the make-up of a village in Peru. One page in particular -- a meticulous, striking profile of Tony Stark as he links his mind with probe -- makes me wonder why Rosado isn’t drawing a higher profile book.
The strong art continues into Howard Chaykin’s contribution, “Multitasking!,” [***1/2] an 11-page story that’s very simple: Iron Man fights the Titanium Man while dealing with various calls from the likes of Nick Fury, Captain America, and Mr. Fantastic for assistance from Tony Stark. Chaykin has some fun playing with the days when Iron Man and Tony Stark weren’t known to be the same person; we see Iron Man’s allies deal with Stark like any other businessman. The use of the other characters allows Chaykin to draw both the Iron Man/Titanium Man fight and those other characters in their respective activities, plus a sarcastic, flirtatious Pepper Potts who seems both annoyed at her boss and amused by his hectic day. Chaykin’s art allows for a little bit of gray, but is mostly heavy blacks and whites, and dynamic, energetic poses. He seems to love using the circular energy effect of Iron Man’s repulsor rays and it gives a lot of pages an interesting look; mostly, Chaykin favors big pictures with characters in the midst of the action. This is a fun story that rests on a simple concept, but presents it effectively and entertainingly.
The final two stories, the 11-page “Brainchild” [**1/2] and the four-page prose piece “It’s Raining Tony” [1/2*] end this issue on a somewhat down note as neither rise to the energetic fun of the first two stories, nor the artistic greatness. “Brainchild” is a window into a possible future where Tony Stark disappears, determined to ‘cure fire’ instead of wasting his time simply putting fires out. It’s a cute story that doesn’t really go anywhere, while the art is serviceable, but suffers after the work of Rosado and Chaykin. “It’s Raining Tony” is a prose story with three illustrations that’s simply bad. The story is meant to be fun with Tony answering questions from the public at the Daily Bugle and besieged by clones sent to kill him, but offers little insight, wit, or suspense. It goes nowhere and isn’t entertaining. But, it is only four pages, thankfully.
The majority of “Indomitable Iron Man” #1 features gorgeous, stunning art by Will Rosado and Howard Chaykin that’s well worth the price of admission. After seeing how well the character lends itself to that visual style, you may wonder if Iron Man even needs the reds and golds he’s so often associated with.