Kieron Gillen’s latest Iron Man epic gets more and more interesting with this issue as the threat from the various Mandarin rings gets even bigger.
The story here kicks off at Tony’s press conference for his new ‘Troy’ initiative that had been so rudely interrupted by it being formed into a giant fist by one of the Mandarin’s rings. Fearing that she’ll be blamed for this, Red Peril, the holder of one of the other rings, reveals her presence and starts blasting stuff whilst spouting a lot of empty leftwing rhetoric that you can really tell Gillen is having a lot of fun writing. Red Peril is already a great new villain, and if Gillen can keep this up with the other ring-holders, then Iron Man could have lost his main villain, but gained 10 new great ones in his place. The fight between Tony and Red Peril is a lot of fun, and it allows Gillen to show some cool new developments for Iron Man’s abilities, especially with the introduction proper of his new drone system, which, although they are dispatched by an EMP, will probably be very important in the future. I also loved the revelation that Tony was wearing his stealth suit the entire time, that it was just invisible, that made for a nice new spin on the usual ways he has to rush to put his armour on. No need for a suitcase this time! Although, it does once again raise some questions about Tony’s mental state if he’s constantly in the suit and nobody knows.
The relationship between Tony and his newly discovered brother Arno continues to be a nice new development for this title, as Tony struggles with having an older brother around, especially one who may be even smarter than he is. Because of the aforementioned EMP, Tony is forced to abandon the fight with Red Peril to try and save him, if his Iron Lung has been shut down by the blast, he’ll die. But as I said, Arno is smarter than Tony, and he already protected his Lung years ago. Red Peril escapes, and she flies up into space to deliver a message to the world having a go at Stark and surveillance and a load of other topical stuff. I think Iron Man, more than any other superhero, thrives on modern references like this, it needs to feel cutting edge. I like seeing Gillen do that here, and it’s part of the reason I’m so enthused for Ales Kot’s upcoming Iron Patriot series.
Speaking of Iron Patriot, he shows up here, as he and Tony head deep into the military vaults to check on the Mandarin Rings, which are supposedly still under lock and key. The conversation between Tony and Rhodey was very well-written, reflecting the difficult relationship these two have professionally, with Rhodey having to put the military ahead of his personal feelings, but also how Rhodey is definitely worried about his friend. They open up the vault to find all the rings still there, but it’s a trick, one of them, the ‘Liar Ring’ has the power of illusion, and it stayed behind to cover up the fact that all of it’s ‘brothers’ were out in the wild. Sensing detection, it flies off into space and tells all of the other rings that they need to step up their game, to find holders, and start doing some terror-work. Iron Man had difficulty dealing with 2 Mandarin rings, now all 10 are out there, the next few issues should be crazy.
Joe Bennett’s art was once again solid as, well, Iron, and it’s just great to see Gillen continue to do something new with Iron Man and his world, he flipped everything upside down with the arrival of Arno, and now the Mandarin is being put to new use, it’s all very exciting.