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Invincible Iron Man #14

Review by Paul Bowler

Change is in the air in Invincible Iron Man #14 as the dust settles over the recent events of Civil War II, now a young woman, M.I.T student, Riri Williams, must prepare to take over as Iron Man! First though, Tony Stark will have to deal with his own inner turmoil in the wake of Civil War II, before Riri redefines the series as a new direction for Iron Man begins, and it’s going to be unlike anything we’ve seen before…

With the fallout of Rhodey’s death in Civil War II, his failure to make amends with Amara for faking his own death, the destruction of Stark Tower, and with Victor Von Doom doing his level best to become part of Tony Stark’s life over the course of this series, Invincible Iron Man #14 is the culmination of a remarkably intense and trying period in Tony Stark’s life as the Invincible armored Avenger – Iron Man. Though the success of Tony’s wish to find out what Victor Von Doom really wants from him remains somewhat undetermined, Brian Michael Bendis does a terrific job rounding off a number of key plot elements with this issue, deftly juggling the cataclysmic skirmishes of Civil War II whilst simultaneously paving the way for a new era to bring this volume of Invincible Iron Man to a close with a fittingly dramatic and exciting finale.

Indeed, there’s a lot of ground to cover, and some of Invincible Iron Man #14’s most poignant scenes come as Tony and Mary Jane discuss the future in the light of recent events. Tonys clash with Carol Danvers over the Inhumans and the precognitive Inhuman called Ulysses in Civil War II – by using him to predict and counteract future dangers before they occur – has caused bitter divisions throughout the Marvel Universe. Tony now clearly feels that his demons in a bottle have found some new triggers, and with the future calling – quite literally – he needs to seek out an open meeting to work things out – a fact which is made all the more ironic as Stark is now effectively Carol Danvers sponsor.

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It is at this very same open meeting that Tony finds himself faced with some especially pertinent contemporary themes. Bendis skilfully weaves these powerful issues into the narrative of Tony’s current situation, uncannily resonating with and eclipsing his experiences on every level, and in many instances making Civil War II pale into insignificance by comparison.

Ironically Tony’s wish to avoid Carol Danvers proves to be the catalyst that ultimately forces them to confront their different viewpoint head on. These scenes form the basis of this remarkable character driven issue as Tony and Carol address what it is they are really fighting for, what they believe in, Rhodey’s death, and of course Banner’s shocking demise. Some uncomfortable home truths are finally aired; where neither party likes or is really surprised by what they hear, and it’s clear that neither of them is going to back down.

Mike Deodato produces an outstanding issue with artwork that will effortlessly immerse you in the heart of the drama. From the opening collage of media reports overlaying the sombre setting of Stark’s lab, Deodato forges an intense, emotionally charged atmosphere as events unfold across compact and impressively detailed page-layouts. It’s this precise, almost casual simplicity, which makes the issue works so well and gets right in your face – so to speak. The expressions of all the characters are beautifully rendered and you will be hanging on their every word. Color artist Frank Martin’s subtle use of tone and shade also works in perfect harmony with Deodato’s art; matching every emotional beat of Bendis’ script to absolute perfection.

Tony’s final scenes in this issue is the sum total of what this arc has been building towards since the beginning, its marvellous how so much is said by saying so little, and the surprise visitor in the coda heralds a game changing development… I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this volume of Invincible Iron Man. In some ways it’s shame it has to and end as Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato have been such a great team. From the War Machines arc, to the Road to Civil War II, and these recent Civil War II tie-in’s, Bendis and Deodato have done exceptional work with this series and Tony’s character, and their run ends by setting up a very exciting future.

Invincible Iron Man #14 is a brilliant, emotional, and powerfully themed issue. It may mark the end of this run of Invincible Iron Man, with Civil War II and Tony‘s whereabouts still to be resolved, but with Brian Michael Bendis and Stefano Caselli charting Riri Williams adventures as Ironheart in Invincible Iron Man #1, and Bendis reuniting with Alex Maleeve to bring us Doom’s story over in Infamous Iron Man #1, the saga of Iron Man is about to enter a bold new era and I‘m extremely excited for what the future will bring.

Publisher: Marvel / Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Art: Mike Deodato

 Color Artist: Frank Martin / VCs Clayton Cowles: Letterer & Production

Cover Artists Dale Keown & Jason Keith

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