Continuing from last issue's prologue, "Iron Man" #10 has Kieron Gillen and Dale Eaglesham serve up part one of "The Secret Origin of Tony Stark," where the genocidal robot 451 shows Tony just how long it's been connected to the Starks. While this sort of story could end up working out well, it's hard to ignore that this flashback to Howard and Maria Stark's early life is less than riveting.
After discovering that successful conception is the one advance that eludes Howard and Maria Stark, "Iron Man" #10 follows Howard Stark as he goes on a Las Vegas caper to steal a very important piece of technology. It sounds like fun, with Gillen pulling in a mixture of old faces like Dum Dum Dugan and Thunderbolt Ross, as well as some new ones. But "Iron Man" #10 falls into the flashback trap that so many other comics and stories do; an extended flashback needs to work twice as hard to keep the reader's attention, and I don't think "Iron Man" #10 quite succeeds.
There are a couple of amusing moments here and there, certainly. Gillen's montage of Howard traveling around the world to find help pulls up some expected avenues, and there's something about "the Bear" walking her two dogs and all three of them wearing matching blast goggles that made me laugh. But little cute moments aside, "Iron Man" #10 doesn't have much zip in its step. After all, it's a bit of a given that sooner or later Maria Stark will end up pregnant with the baby that will become Tony. Aside from the Bear talking about wanting to have enough money for gin and dog food, none of the support cast members have much of a presence that make them stand out. The plot strolls along amiably but a bit forgettable.
Eaglesham's art is a nice substitute for regular series artist Greg Land; they both come from the same overall style and sensibility, so there isn't any artistic jarring with the switch, but I appreciate that Eaglesham's characters have a bit more life and less stiffness to their forms. The storytelling is fine; nothing out of the ordinary here but it tells it in an easy to follow manner. The computer-circuit panel edges are a nice touch for the scenes set in the present, although Guru eFX's brighter and livelier colors in those scenes are probably an even easier indicator on if we're in the past or present.
"Iron Man" #10 is one of those comics that I'm sure will work better in a collected edition, but is little more than a blip on the radar when it comes to a single issue. Gillen's certainly capable of generating more interest in that latter form, but the spark isn't here this time around. Not bad, but not great either.