I’ve never been much of an Iron Man fan, but even I’m aware of the critical praise heaped upon Michelinie and Layton’s classic run that, back in the day, helped define the character as we now know him. Having recently picked up the “Doomquest” premiere hardcover so that I could read one of their more fondly-remembered epics, I found myself more than a little intrigued by the interaction between Doom and Iron Man - despite being created as a Fantastic Four villain, Doom is well-suited (no pun intended) to being an Iron Man villain.
It’s with some happiness, then, that I discovered the “Doomquest” hardcover was actually something of a companion release to this, Layton and Michelinie’s follow-up to the original “Doomquest”. The original, wherein Stark and Doom are catapulted back in time to the age of Camelot, ends with the two forging an uneasy to return to the present, and leaves Doom swearing revenge (don’t worry - these events are helpfully recapped in-story.)
Now, in the present, “Legacy of Doom” opens with Stark wondering why that revenge was never taken. As he melts down an old armor model design (which, to get properly nerdy on you, places the flashback events in this issue at some point between issues #231 and #280 of “Iron Man” Vol. 1) he finds some sensor logs that indicate that it might not be Doom who’s forgotten the revenge, but Stark himself! It seems that the “sensor logs” idea is largely a framing device to allow the story to fit in convincingly with the continuity of the previous two Dr. Doom epics (from “Iron Man” Vol. 1 #149-#150 and #249-#250) - certainly not a problem for me, anyway.
The logs show that Doom requested Iron Man’s help, and while Stark cautiously accepts, he quickly finds himself a little out of his depth as Doom transports them both to Hell. It’s a nice nod to the original Doomquest stories, both of which feature the pair transported well out of their comfort zones, and in particular Stark’s going to have as much difficulty operating in the mystical realm of Hell as he did in Camelot. Unlike the originals, however, there’s no suggestion of King Arthur or Merlin showing up this time around, which, while understandable, is still something of a shame.
At the close of the story, Doom betrays Iron Man (didn’t see that coming!) to Mephisto in exchange for a “sliver of metal” leaving Stark trapped in Hell... Forever! Except that’s clearly not the case. Still, being stuck in the underworld with the Devil on one side and no chance of a ride home on the other, it’s at least an entertaining jam to see Stark in.
On the art side, Lim’s work is looking better than ever in this issue. His art is still very representative of the style that was popular at least 20 years ago but still with plenty of modern appeal, which makes him a perfect choice to meld this story with the “Doomquest” originals. There are some minor glitches with the writing that grate a little - Stark’s internal monologue in particular is written in a fairly staccato manner that I find almost cringeworthy to read. And, despite his caution, Stark still seems oddly willing to accompany Doom to Mephisto’s realm without evidence of any plot besides Doom’s word.
Even so, it’s a strong opening for a miniseries which promises Iron Man doing the kind of classic superheroics he’s currently not really free to pursue. Unlike some of their contemporaries who stand as living proof of the adage “you can never go home again”, Michelinie and Layton’s return sees them slip effortlessly back into the writing seat as if they’d never left the character. Undoubtedly, a promising start.