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Infamous Iron Man #1

Review by Paul Bowler

Marvel’s bold Marvel Now iteration brings us Infamous Iron Man #1, the brand new ongoing series from the acclaimed Eisner Award winning team of Brian Michael Bendis and Alex Maleev. Yes, there’s a new Iron Man, and his name is… Victor Von Doom! That’s right, Doctor Doom, one of Marvel’s greatest villains, has decided to become something new, and to do that he must succeed where Tony Stark failed. But is there more to Doom’s plans, is he really a reformed character, and how will the world react to this new, infamous hero?

Ever since Victor Von Doom started turning up unannounced in Tony Stark’s life during the previous volume of Invincible Iron Man, the tumultuous events of Civil War II have had major consequences for Stark, and now Doom’s mysterious plan continues as he strives to reach even greater heights of power as Iron Man – but for what end?

Infamous Iron Man #1 starts off with a flashback to a shadow meeting of the dark Cabal fronted by Doom, and it’s a scene in which writer Brian Michael Bendis skilfully eschews the narrative via Doom’s POV, offering us an insightful glimpse into Victor’s inner motivations as Bendis seamlessly entwines the new status quo post Civil War II with the intriguing premise of this new series.

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From there we are given a taste of the sublime blend of science, sorcery, and dry wit that will no doubt become the hallmark of this series as Victor’s character works towards assuming the mantle of Iron Man. Victor spends most of this issue keeping us, and everyone around him, unsure of his true motives, even when he performs good deeds, such as rescuing a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D operative with contemptuous ease from a former adversary, we are left with no doubt that Doom’s actions are still firmly in his own best interests. Its this mix of uncertainty and deceptive charm that makes Victor such a compelling and complex character, the brief interlude with Stark’s former girlfriend, Doctor Amara Perera, is also of note, as it offers some tantalizing snippets about what’s happened to Tony Stark and foreshadows Victor’s interested in Amara and her work.

Alex Maleev’s artwork perfectly encapsulates the mood and tone of Infamous Iron Man, right from the first page we experience the Doom of old, before the scene shifts dramatically into the rescue mission, and it is here that Maleev really excels in these dark shadowy moments as we see Victor confront and beat down a villain with a calculated use of technology and magic. The colors by Matt Hollingsworth bring accentuated flourishes and tone to every moment, picking out striking hues of light and energy that punctuates the darkness. The scenes with Amara and Victor in the University of Cambridge seem bright and breezy by comparison, there’s an ever-loving-blue-eyed special guest appearance to watch out for, and Maleev and Hollingsworth engineer a classy build up to the inevitable moment when Doom finally gets to suit up as Iron Man.

Brian Michael Bendis keeps us guessing almost until the end of Infamous Iron Man #1 before we begin to get more insight into what has happened to Tony Stark, it’s cleverly done too, and turns out to be something that bizarrely manages to be both expected and unexpected all at the same time. If anything, the scenes that lead up to Victor donning his Iron Man armor feels almost underplayed to deliberately keep us on the back foot.

Infamous by name and infamous by nature, as first issues go, Infamous Iron Man #1 gets everything off to a good enough start. I guess maybe I was just expecting Doom’s debut as the Infamous Iron Man to be a little more exciting than it actually turned out to be. Still, that killer surprise ending certainly puts a whole new spin on things, offering up lot of potential, and hopefully the series can be infamous enough to live up to it.

Publisher: Marvel / Writer: Brian Michael Bendis

Art: Alex Maleev / Colors: Matt Hollingsworth

Letterer and Production: VC’s Clayton Cowles

Cover by: Alex Maleev