We're two issues into Kieron Gillen and Greg Land's new "Iron Man," and it's a pleasant enough comic. But with so many of the Marvel NOW! titles having been given a big shift in terms of plot or tone to justify the new #1, "Iron Man" feels like a title that didn't need to have its numbering start over.
Gillen's dusted off the Extremis virus from an earlier creative team and re-introduced it to the readership. The exact details of what Extermis does (aside from rewriting DNA) feels curiously glossed over, but in some ways it feels almost deliberate on that front by Gillen. The focus of the story isn't the mechanics of Extremis, but merely that it's a series of targets that could take different forms. It's an excuse for Gillen to send Tony Stark around the world attacking different foes and whipping out new incarnations of the Iron Man armor.
That's not a bad thing, but it's also not a compelling story hook. The first issue of "Iron Man" earlier this month at least had a good opening sequence with a woman explaining to Pepper Potts the kind of eye candy that Tony Stark goes for, and how she had altered her outward nature to get in close to him. That sort of spark isn't present for the second issue, and the difference is noticeable. "Iron Man" feels like it's trying to serve itself up as an all-action comic here, but that's not the strength of the character these days, and this simplistic story isn't carrying the title.
The art is likewise just not energetic or interesting enough, although like the writing it's not bad either. I like how Land draws the Iron Man armor, although it's best when grounded and shooting off a laser, or being upgraded. That aspect of the book looks rather handsome, and while the armor of the member of the Circle looks simple it's also attractive. On the other hand, people look a little interchangeable here. There's one character who looks like Tony Stark just let his beard fill out a little bit more this issue, for instance; same exact face, just a tiny bit more hair. The continual photo-referenced faces and poses mean that characters often end up looking stiff and frozen, and that's the wrong approach for a book that seems determined to be all-action, all-the-time.
"Iron Man" #2 is already showing the cracks in the armor, so to speak, which is a bad sign. Gillen and Land have worked together more successfully on "Uncanny X-Men," so for "Iron Man" to already start slowing down is a bit worrisome. This new "Iron Man" isn't offering up anything particularly new or innovative so far that warranted a renumbering of the series. Two issues in, "Iron Man" is in need of a tune-up to get things moving a bit faster.