Ultimate Comics: Iron Man #1
By Zak Edwards
October 22, 2012 - 12:07
Iron Man in the Ultimate Universe has the priviledged position of a reduced continuity, something his main universe counterpart cannot escape. Here, Tony Stark can be belligerent, drunk, reckless, and, well, more like his Robert Downey Jr. counterpart. It isn’t that difficult to see why the powers that be would want an Ultimate Tony Stark story; he’s the most like the movie version with the least responsibility to act on past lessons. The whole result, I would argue, is quite delightful.
Mark Millar generally played Tony Stark for laughs. He isn’t just pretending to be a playboy millionaire, he is one and delightfully in love with himself for it and the audience is more entertained for it. Of course, Millar likes to complicate the unruliness of the character, questioning why we would praise someone who thinks it’s a good idea to pilot an Iron Man suit only after a few vodka oranges, and this is exactly where writer Nathan Edmondson jumps off from.
Losing the love of his life and his butler Jarvis were two moments Ultimate Tony Stark hasn’t been able to get over. They hang over him constantly and Edmondson is subtle enough to show rather than tell how Tony’s lifestyle isn’t being very productive at least in this front. He’s attached, as we can see by the flashbacks, and incapable of working through the issues, hence his literal investments that pop up all over the issue. But rather than see Tony being mopey, Edmondson understands this Tony isn’t exactly about this type of personal responsibility and, much like the real world corporate people he emulates, fairly short-sighted about it. He refuses to call his new bodyguard anything but Jarvis, a trait Edmondson didn’t come up with but uses to great effect, and Tony and those around him are literally disentangling themselves from the mess he creates. It’s actually all quite ingenious how Edmondson navigates this character and, despite the whole thing being at the expense of the protagonist, watching Tony continue to self-destruct is very enjoyable. The backstory is proving interesting, as is the further exploration of Tony’s familial relationships (his brother seems a ways off, thank goodness, but who knows). Overall, Edmondson has the voice of his protagonist and uses his history to continue to be his own worst enemy. Of course, the arrival of Mandarin may change that, but we will just have to see what Stark can do to himself as well.
The art, as I’ve talked about above, is used to great effect. Great writers show rather than tell and great comic writer teams similarly rely on each other to accomplish this to a better effect. Matteo Buffagni uses cramped spaces to great effect; the scene in Tony’s limo is messy and an effective use of space (or lack thereof) to depict his current situation. The perspective awkwardly never gets everything in either, which speaks to the unfolding story of Tony that is constantly showing what he can’t see over what is obvious to him. This obliviousness to his own situation will certainly play out in later issues, and the synergy of this team can only bring this out more.
Grade: 8/10 Wonderfully original in approach, this team knows what they are doing and with who.
Last Updated: August 31, 2023 - 08:12