After most of the first part of ‘Iron Metropolitan’ was spent in an alternate future, Gillen kicks the story off in earnest here as Tony and Arno begin to build their own take on a City.
It turns out that there’s a ready made location for the Starks to make their ‘Troy’ and it comes from Matt Fraction’s tenure on Iron Man, yes, Mandarin City is back and Tony is going to rebuild it. Of course, since the death of the Mandarin, the City has been left to pretty much rot, and has been taken over by the Triads, so first things first, Tony has to clean it up, and he does so by using the Stealth Suit to stalk through the city in scenes which basically take the piss out of Batman. I liked the use of the Stealth Suit here, as it’s doing what other recent issues have done and made the first 5 issues of this book, which were pretty average to be honest, seem more important in retrospect. At first those done-in-one stories seemed unnecessary, but now, the concepts and new armours Gillen introduced then are actually playing a part.
After clearing out Mandarin City, Tony has to do some pretty awkward introductions, as he not only reveals to the real Pepper Potts that his new A.I. is, well, her, but he introduces her to Arno. These were well-written scenes, but I have to admitted I was a bit distracted by the fact that they took place in Tony Stark’s house from the Iron Man movies, it’s cool that this location is now in the comics too, but it is a distraction.
I found it odd that, only a few pages after Pepper found out about P.E.P.P.E.R., Tony has gotten rid of this A.I. and plugged it into the ‘core’ of his new City, renaming her H.E.L.E.N., which is of course, the name of the A.I. that betrayed the Stark brothers in the potential future we saw last time, does Tony really pay that little attention? But I suppose he doesn’t need an A.I. now that he has Arno in his ear, and they do make a solid team.
Because Pepper knows Tony Stark better than anyone, she knows that this plan to build a new City is him overcompensating for the recent upheaval in his personal life, and so she tries to help him, saying that he needs a PR person to help him sell this idea as something other than him helping out China, and that PR person is her new boyfriend, Marc, who was mentioned but not seen in #17. Marc and Tony are together at the press conference to announce the new venture, where Marc spots Abigail Burns, the young blogger who was given a Mandarin ring last time out, and it’s a good sign that he’s suspicious of her, even if it is because he knows she hates Tony Stark, and not because she’s a villain. Anyways, it turns out that Tony should worry about more than just Mandarin-7, as when he begins his speech, another ring crashes down, exploding and creating a giant fist made of wreckage. So now there are 2 Mandarin rings out to get Iron Man, boy, he really picked the wrong site for this City didn’t he?
I’m continuing to really enjoy Gillen’s Iron Man, and this was a great step forward after a previous issue that stalled the momentum a bit, the entire world of Tony Stark has been turned upside down, and it’s great to see Gillen not rest, and to have things continue to change for him, whether that be his methods, or the form an attack from his arch-enemy takes. It’s great that the Mandarin is such a threat, even when he’s dead. Joe Bennett’s art was strong and clean once again, if we can’t have Eaglesham forever, then he’s the next best thing.