By Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Alex Maleev, and Marte Gracia
Invincible Iron Man #593 sees the series return to its original number scheming from 2001 (Marvel have released a handy timeline of releases to show how they got to this number). It combines the storylines of the various respective Iron Man characters who are uniting around a common goal: the search for Tony Stark, who has apparently gone missing despite being ‘dead’. Stark’s absence has played a big role in the Iron Man books for a while now and as a result there’s a lot to juggle in #593 both in terms of new and old content. The book seems to be gearing up to the proper flesh and blood return of Iron Man himself.
Riri Williams is running around as Ironheart and Doctor Doom has taken up the role of Iron Man himself. It remains to be seen whether Tony has a place in this world with Riri and Doom taking on mantles and journeys of their own, so how Bendis decides to handle this arc remains very interesting to see with lots of different directions to explore as we head towards Stark’s return. Hopefully this doesn’t mean the end of Riri or Doom’s respective roles as the characters, as so far, they’ve been excellent additions that have helped shake up the status quo successfully. But based on what we’ve seen so far they look set to play more active roles in this series for the foreseeable future at least.
The book opens with a double page spread of exposition designed to get readers up to speed on the events that have taken place in previous Iron Man books, but there’s a lot to process and it isn’t really successful for new readers with Friday’s info-dump being not quite as helpful as it could have been. Bendis’ decision to keep Ironheart and Doctor Doom separate has really helped flesh out their characters a bit more, but now that they’re combined in a solo book it will be interesting to see who ends up getting more of the pagetime going forward and how their decisions will affect what happens next. The scene with Doom and The Thing was one of the highlights of the issue, and Bendis showed that he could balance the hard-hitting stuff with some lighter moments in between with one highlight coming in the form of prison guards reacting to learning that Doom’s role as Iron Man was not, in fact, a joke.
The artwork is pretty good with both Stefano Caselli and Alex Maleev lending their talents to the issue. The split in tone brought about the change in pencillers for the Doctor Doom interlude would normally feel jarring, but the sudden tonal shift required for Doom’s storyline which is indeed a darker one than the more light-hearted one with Riri, works in this case. This allows Maleev to shine when bringing character emotions to the forefront especially with the close-ups presented here on both The Thing and Doom. Marte Garcia’s colors too are solid as he helps bring that color palette to the table that makes the book feel right at home within the Marvel Universe and the rest of Bendis’ Iron Man books that he has worked on in the past.
The ensemble that Bendis has brought together here, which includes Tony’s real mother and Mary Jane Watson alongside the all the aforementioned characters, really gives the feeling that this book will very much serve more as a team book than a solo one; at least until Stark’s proper return. So far, the book has managed to balance the characters well as it cements its place in Marvel’s legacy line-up. Hopefully, this doesn’t prevent Bendis from hitting the character beats that he is so good at, but based on this issue alone readers shouldn’t worry as there are plenty of more emotional moments here that remind us what he is capable of bringing to the table. The road to Tony Stark’s long-awaited return is off to an effective start, as Bendis does a good job at establishing plenty of early potential for what could be a really interesting arc.