By Brian Michael Bendis, Stefano Caselli, Alex Maleev & Marte Gracia
The penultimate issue of The Search for Tony Stark, Invincible Iron Man #599 sports plenty of dramatic reveals in an exciting issue from writer Brian Michael Bendis, artists Stefano Caselli and Alex Maleev (who also takes colouring duties, sharing them with Marte Gracia), that effectively sets the stage for #600, which is – if this issue is anything to go by, sure to be a memorable one now that all the pieces are slowly being put in place.
The return of Tony Stark is something that has been teased very much throughout this arc, with, Tony being arguably the main focus of this issue even if due to the rather insane reveals that come with both Tony and Ironheart, his and Doom’s storylines are overshadowed by how the book treats the reveals in question. Bendis may handle his theme of family really well as Tony and his mother share an effective emotional scene, but at the same time, pacing issues prevent this book from feeling as engaging as it could have been.
The artwork duties in this book are divided between Stefano Caselli and Alex Maleev with both splitting up the issue in regards to their pencilling and as a result Invincible Iron Man #599 has two very different styles when it’s focusing on the different characters, and it’s something that’s clearly felt, but given the different storylines, it feels like a necessary approach with the atmosphere itself feeling very similar across the two books. Maleev’s colours are the highlight of the book, with his own unique approach being a visual standout but the way Caselli draws the interiors of the respective suits is also a visual treat in a book with little in the way of straightforward action for either artists, as he makes the most out of a more traditional comic style. Marte Gracia’s colours too are excellent, and as a whole, the art is one of the book’s biggest strengths, as it leaps effortlessly between the past and the present.
One of the most interesting characters to come out of Brian Michael Bendis’ run has been Ironheart and Riri Williams has quickly become an excellent entry to the Marvel Universe, and whilst she doesn’t get much of a role here with the focus largely elsewhere, the book is shaping her up to be a key player in whatever happens next and given how fresh and exciting her character still feels, there’s plenty of potential to explore with her character even after this arc concludes.
The dialogue by Bendis continues to be solid and it needs to be in an issue where it is front and centre. Some pages may feel like filler but on the whole the good outweighs the bad, and the Invincible Iron Man continues to be a delight to read. The last reveal is certainly incredibly dramatic as mentioned earlier, and whilst the character’s identity won’t be spoiled here, once you read it, it’ll suddenly become clear as to why it is so jarring that the character featured resembles a mix of Kurt Russell and Oliver Queen. Story-wise, there does feel like a little too much to cover with just one issue remaining in this arc, but hopefully, given Bendis’ experience as a writer, he can end it on a deserving note that a milestone of a six-hundredth issue commands.