Iron Boy

By | Thursday, February 23, 2006 Leave a Comment

So I was at my local comic shop yesterday picking up my weekly stash of books, and picked up the latest issue of Amazing Spider-Man. Lo, and behold, the cover graces us with a full-page image of Spider-Man in his new Tony-Stark-designed costume. I had heard about it previously, but didn't give it much thought. The shop manager just shook his head as he rang up the issue, and we had a brief discussion on just how long this new costume would last. (We both hoped it would be shorter rather than longer, but the only thing we could say for sure is that he'd certainly be back in something approximating his classic togs by the time the next Spider-Man movie is released.)

I took the book home, and read it last night.

Now, I'd like people to realize first that, while I do like Spider-Man as a character, I do not have the long-standing affection for him that many Spider-fans do. I've certainly been aware of Spider-Man since the earliest days of my youth, but he was never tops on my list of favorite heroes. I'd also like people to realize that I'm not a big J. Michael Straczynski fan. Not that I dislike his work per se, but it doesn't resonante with me the way a Kurt Busiek or Fabian Niceiza does. What those two comments mean are that A) I'm not overly concerned with stirctly adhering to years of Spider-Man continuity, and B) I'm not going to let the creator's name sway my opinion of the story one way or another. Tweaking the origin around to include the totem theme was no problem for me; I thought moving Spidey into the Avengers was okay; I wasn't keen on the rape (literal and metaphoric) of Gwen Stacey; and the Spider-Man reborn thing seemed a little trite.

So I read the latest issue. Tony Stark gives Spider-Man a new costume, with more advanced technology that gives him some additional abilities like gliding and being bullet-proof. Not a great direction to take the character, but it's an interesting extension of having Spider-Man be an Avenger and having access to those resources. But then Spider-Man asks why Tony Stark would do such a thing. Tony responds that, as Iron Man, he would like to have some solid, trust-worthy back-up and feels that Spider-Man would be an ideal choice. Here's where I start running into some problems...

So Iron Man wants back-up. Easy for me to swallow -- he's outfitted others with variations of the Iron Man armor before. He doesn't fully trust the other Avengers. I can buy into that, given that most of the team are fairly unknown quantities for him and he's had several philosophical differences with Captain America in the past. Iron Man also wants their agreement to be relatively secret. No issue there -- he's got a long history of not being terribly open with everyone. I can even see Spider-Man agreeing to the deal, since he's done covert work in the past (most recently in Brian Bendis' Secret War) and is in a position where he feels indebted to Stark for any number of things. But something about that scene feels... wrong.

There's enough minor disconnects in those last pages that prevent me from buying into the story and premise. In the first place, Tony's characterization throughout the issue is very manipulative. Not that he doesn't have that trait, but it's the only real aspect of the character we see here. In the second place, if he's trying to be secretive about this agreement, why invite his civilian wife to the conversation at all? But I think what bothers me most of all is that the way the conversation is handled, it reads to me as if Spider-Man is taking up a sidekick role, not as a successor or potential replacement for Iron Man. More of an Iron Boy, than Iron Man 2. And, of course, that is very much NOT the role Peter Parker needs to play.

I obviously have not read anything further than this ersatz prologue; I have no real indication of what direction Straczynski will be taking the story. I have no intention of condemning future issues based on what I haven't seen. This issue, in and of itself, wasn't horrific. But I have to say that the end of the issue really struck me as missing the mark, and left a relatively sour aftertaste.
Newer Post Older Post Home