I must confess to not being the biggest fan of Dan Slott’s Iron Man run, which I find to be a meandering and generic take on Marvel’s armored avenger. However, Iron Man 2020 could be an opportunity for Slott’s run on the character to go down in comics history — that is if the creative team would pick up the pace.
Iron Man 2020 builds on the revelation that Tony Stark died in Marvel’s Civil War II event by replacing the current AI version of Stark with his brother Arno. Now running Stark Industries and using the Iron Man moniker, Arno Stark is battling an AI/robot uprising in preparation for a cosmic encounter that could end the world. In short, this is a very ambitious opening issue.
Slott and co-writer Cristos Gage have planted seeds for an epic tale of identity and survival, but sadly this comic is largely just seeds. Iron Man 2020 #1 is primarily a set-up issue, catching readers up on the new status quo of Iron Man’s world, while throwing in one surprising twist for good measure. The comic is a decent enough read, but it does leave one wanting more.
For the extra dollar Iron Man 2020 #1 costs, one would think the series’ writers would do more with the page count. Despite being a longer issue, Iron Man 2020 #1 doesn’t feel very meaty. The issue’s opening offers an interesting look into Arno Stark’s motivation behind his recent actions and continues an interesting plot thread from ‘The Ultron Agenda”, Arno’s AI recreations of his parents. The remainder of the issue is Slott and Gage setting the stage for the real conflicts at the heart of Iron Man 2020. It isn’t the most engaging reading experience because Iron Man 2020 #1 feels like a prelude to the event rather than a first issue, but hopefully everything will pay-off in future installments.
Pete Woods’ art is well worth the price of admission. Woods’ energetic art style makes this exposition heavy issue move like lightening. His stylized figures feel like they’re moving off the page, and Woods’ page layouts are inventive. Woods’ skilled storytelling skills can be scene in a two page spread depicting new broadcasts. In most comic books those talking head panels tend to be static, but Woods’ page layouts provide a sense of movement. The scene itself isn’t very compelling, but it looks great.
Despite the somewhat lackluster nature of Iron Man 2020 #1, the conflict teased in the first issue’s opening and a surprising plot twist at the issue’s close has me intrigued. I hope Iron Man 2020’s second issue lives up to the premise’s potential.
Rating: 3/5 – Okay.