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411’s Comic Reviews: Iron Man 2020 #1, Legion of Super-Heroes #3, More

January 16, 2020 | Posted by Steve Gustafson
Iron Man 2020

Hello and welcome to 411mania’s weekly Comic Book Review! Each week we’ll be serving up a warm dish of reviews (and previews) from Marvel, DC, and anything else that captures our interest. What did you pick up this week? Let us know in the comments.Want to write a review? If you can write at least one review a week, consistently, email me at [email protected]!  

Iron Man 2020 #1

Review by Jeremy Thomas

Marvel is changing up the status quo for one of its flagship characters as 2020 enters in Iron Man.  Following the events of Tony Stark: Iron Man under writer Dan Slott’s run, Tony has been revealed to be completely an AI at this point with his original body no longer living but his sentience intact. That’s allowed Slott to change the game, switching the Iron Man name and armor to Tony’s twin brother Arno and setting up the stakes for a new chapter in Slott’s humanity vs. AI arc.

All that is to say that Iron Man 2020 is, for better or worse, both a very similar book to Tony Stark: Iron Man and a bit of a new phase in the characters’ lives.  Slott and artist Pete Woods spent the majority of issue #1 laying things out for the new head of Stark International – now a subsidiary of Baintronics, the company owned by Tony’s chief rival in Sunset Bain.  Arno is at the forefront of the attempt to stop the “robot rebellion,” as the conflict between Ais and humanity is called, as he seeks to stop an Extinction  Entity that he knows is coming, while his brother appears to be lost in his sorrows, having turned back to alcohol.  But the AIs are not ready to go down without a fight, and they have a couple of aces in the hole.

Slott is a writer that inspires particularly divisive reactions among Marvel fans and has ever since he killed Peter Parker as part of the Superior Spider-Man arc.  As one might imagine, his moves on Iron Man were similarly polarizing. Where your opinion on Slott lands is a big factor in how you’ll view Iron Man 2020.  Structurally, Slott is essentially doing a similar thing he did with Superior Spider-Man in switching out the lead hero for a shadier character.

The problem there is that whether you liked or disliked Superior (I did, for the record), you could at least acknowledge Otto Octavius as a significant character in Spider-Men lore.  Arno Stark is, to put it lightly, no Doctor Octopus.  Arno lacks Tony’s charisma, but he also lacks any weight of history behind him.  His characterization is too nebulous at this point to be particularly interesting, which means we have to rely on the more enjoyable villainy of Sunset Bain to carry the weight.  That’s not to say there isn’t potential with Arno; there absolutely is.  But at this point he’s a bit of a slog to read through.

Another concern with this book is the relaunch aspect of it.  Most relaunches provide the opportunity for a jumping-on point for new readers.  Not so here, as Slott is carrying over all the story arcs of his Tony Stark: Iron Man run with all their complexity.  And instead of trying to explain much of it, Slott more or less seems to assume that readers know everything that’s going on here.

There are some brief bits of exposition, but Slott spends most of his time mostly setting up the AI vs. biological person conflict. That itself has some interesting elements and some good arguments to be made, but again they’re buried amidst less interesting things.  Machine Man, who played a major role in the previous series, basically takes on the role of a Magneto-like character in the AI rebellion except again, he’s not as compelling of a character – especially when you consider that Slott spent most of Tony Stark: Iron Man portraying him as little more than a jealous ex of Jocasta’s.

On the unmitigated plus side is Woods’ artwork.  Woods has a lot of fun with the AI elements of the storyline and finds opportunities to really cut loose.  He also has really solid character designs for Bain –the book’s most enjoyable character by a country mile – and Machine Man. The coloring pairs well with the images for a sense of fun that the writing lacks.

And that’s the most frustrating part of Iron Man 2020 #1.  Every bit of potential that you see in this book seems to be paired with something that holds it back. There’s plenty of room for this book to improve, and I’m intrigued to see if Slott and Woods can right the ship.  But after this first issue, it’s hard to see it as too much more than Slott running through familiar territory that he got off to a better start the last time.

Rating: 4.5 out of 10

Shades of Magic: The Rebel Army #3

Preview by Steve Gustafson

Cornered and under siege, Prince Maxim and his allies must fight to save Verose! Illustrated by hit art team Andrea Olimpieri (Dishonored) and Enrica Eren Angiolini (Doctor Who)! 

Descendent Vol 1 TPB

Preview by Steve Gustafson 

Conspiracy theories, government corruption, and a really good mixtape of Prince drives David Corey to help solve the mysterious disappearance of a famous politician’s son. When David realizes that the truth is much more dangerous than a kidnapping, he must battle ancient secrets that have endangered the lives of children for centuries. This conspiracy-fueled adventure story looks at the darker side of American history through the eyes of an unlikely team of heroes. If they fail, the American government and its people may not survive. 

From Stephanie Phillips (Devil Within, Kicking Ice) and Evgeniy Bornyakov (Meteora, Ziggy), DESCENDENT investigates the missing link between a mysterious cult and disappearing children. This volume collects issues #1-5.

Legion of Super-Heroes #3

Review by John Pumpernickel 

You knew there was no way Jon Kent was going to leave his best friend behind! Welcome to the future, Damian Wayne! (This is such a terrible idea!) Also, meet the new Legionnaires as they head to a secret undercover mission on the first man-made planet: Planet Gotham. Every page of this new DC epic plants seeds and ideas that will blast out across the DC Universe for months to come! All this, and Monster Boy is on the loose!

I’ve tried to give this book a chance but it’s just not connecting with me. The Legion’s biggest struggle has been with its place in continuity and with DC’s doubt that this book can survive without connecting it to modern day. Do we need Jon Kent and Damian Wayne in the book for it to be successful? No. I’d much rather this book go full tilt in the future without dragging current status quo into the mix.

This all felt like more set-up instead of actual universe building and I’m done waiting for things to take off. The Legion has so much potential and it seems like it’s being hampered. 

The art is gorgeous but it’s time to take off the shackles and let the Legion truly lead the way into the future. 

Rating: 7.5 out of 10

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