Tony Stark is dead. Sorry, spoilers I guess. Although considering this is only one of two Stark-less Iron Man books hitting the shelves it should hardly be a surprise that everyone’s favourite playboy, billionaire, philanthropist would be taking time off from heroics and calling in dead for the foreseeable future. Along with the invincible Iron Man Riri Williams, longtime villain Doctor Doom on a questionable path of redemption after Secret Wars will be filling the shell head’s Iron shoes as a more, infamous hero.
It’s a headline grabbing premise and one with a proven track record, even as recent as Doc Oc becoming the Superior Spider-man and now as Doom becomes the latest of the Marvel rogues gallery to start “breaking good”. Although here it somehow doesn’t feel as natural a fit as Slott’s tale. Whilst ‘rescuing’ Sheild’s Maria Hill and demonstrating his own brand of heroics, Victor gives a brutal verbal strip down of a c-list science villain and whilst it’s a cool moment in a book sorely lacking them it does highlight why this first issue lacks any real conflict or excitement. Stripped off all the bombastic, larger than life theatrics Doctor Doom comes across as creepy, rather than menacing. Bendis sets Doom up to be an intimidating presence even in a regular business suit but it feels like we are the ones who are following a c-list bad guy rather than one of the companies most feared and wildly popular characters.
While Bendis has always had his fair share of detractors from his pacing and decompressed style, this issue feels almost glacial in it’s pacing. Opting to spend the bulk of the issue reiterating Victor’s desire to atone for his past, moving along slowly until a first reveal of him suited up in new Iron Man armour. Considering the character has spent the majority of his time already encased in metal, what should have been a jaw dropping final page feels decidedly underwhelming and doesn’t have anywhere near as much punch as I suspect the creative team intended. While Doom’s debut as Iron Man sets up some interesting ideas with his struggle to prove he can do good in the world whilst struggling with and exploiting his reputation and could make this an interesting series, the sheer lack of exciting moments and it’s slow pacing left me without any real interest or indication where the story might lead.