Image Courtesy of Marvel Comics
Welcome back, faithful readers! It’s time for another Comics Cornerstone! I know it’s been a while since my last post, but when everyone you know has some sort of sickness, it’s only a matter of time before you get it yourself. Thus, the reason for my absence. Thankfully, today’s review should more than makeup for my transgression as it’s a review of Issues 14-19 of “Tony Stark: Iron Man” by Dan Slott. So, without further adieu, let’s get to it.
So, this batch of issues that I review today will serve as the closing arc of this incarnation of Iron Man. At first glance, 19 issues isn’t very long. Sadly, a lot of comic series are cut short before they’ve found their stride. It’s an unfortunate effect of the modern comics industry. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case with TS: IM as it appears to be leading straight into the new series entitled “Iron Man 2020”. So, while it seems to be a short run at first, it turns out it was all part of Slott’s plan.
Getting on to the story itself, this final arc is titled “The Ultron Agenda”. The vile Ultron has returned and intends to use a new device of his making to merge humans with machines. Big surprise! However, the first targets on his list are his ex-“wife” Jocosta and Tony’s current girlfriend, Janet Van Dyne, AKA The Wasp. Ultron plans to merge the two of them together to create a perfect “bride”. Talk about gruesome!
Now, Ultron’s plan here is nothing new. This is a stereotypical plan that you can find in any number of Ultron appearances since the character’s inception. However, the new wrinkle is Tony’s personal struggles. If you remember my last review of this book, Tony is dealing with the fact that he is a mere simulation of the real Tony Stark, who died at the end of “Civil War II”. That’s been the ongoing thread in this entire series. What does it mean to be a human? Can “Tony” live up to the name of his predecessor? Can he be Iron Man if he isn’t Tony Stark? All these questions plus a sometimes too comedic subplot dealing with robot rights. That last bit took a while to find its footing. I’m honestly not sure if it ever did.
I think all these questions are why it makes total sense for Ultron to be the final villain of the story. His mission statement, no matter when he appears, has always been to make humanity perfect. His belief has always been that, to achieve this goal, machines must be dominant because they don’t make mistakes. Ultron abhors emotion and sees it as an inherent flaw. The fact that Tony may or may not be human makes Ultron, in my opinion, the perfect antagonist for him.
Without going too far into spoiler territory, I’ll say this: I really enjoyed how this wrapped up. We get some much-needed closure on the whole humanity vs machines debate as well as answers to whether or not Tony really is who he wants to believe he is. Plus, we get a very realistic wrap up to Rhodey’s PTSD subplot where he’s forced to put on the War Machine suit again to face down Ultron. I find that especially satisfying since it’s something that every veteran with PTSD has to eventually come to terms with. It’s realistic while also fitting within the very unrealistic comic boundaries. When it comes to the fantastical nature of comic books, it never hurts to add in a dash of reality. And of course, it does that thing in every Ultron story where it leaves us with a hundred possible ways for Ultron to rear his ugly head again in the future. That’s not even mentioning the delicious cliffhanger that we’re left on for “Iron Man 2020”.
Overall, I’m very pleased with the way this ended and with the series as a whole. Sure, it was short. But it was a fun and interesting story that introduced and left us with plenty of questions for the next story. Normally I’d say that a story shouldn’t be left this wide open. However, everything that Slott leaves us with is so tantalizing that I’m just too excited for what comes next to complain. Was it a little uneven at points? Sure. But every story has its low points because no writer is perfect. Though with what we got, I see no reason to gripe too much.
Folks, that does it for today! I hope you enjoyed it and are ready for another year of exciting reviews! With Iron Man out of the way for now, I’ll get around to the conclusion of Guardians within the next few days. Aside from that, there’s plenty more to look forward to including new comic reviews, retro reflections, and lots of TV-related content. I hope you’ll stick with me into the new year and beyond! Until next time, stay comical!