When a new creative team is able to step onto a Big Two character and do something fun with them, it’s always a relief. When that creative team not only does something fun, but something fresh, new, exciting and makes you wish they’ll never go away, it’s a thrill.
That’s where we’re at with Tony Stark: Iron Man #3 from writer Dan Slott, line artist Valero Schitti, color artists Edgar Delgado and Rochelle Rosenberg, and letterer Travis Lanham. This run already feels like a defining run for Iron Man. It’s a story not just for Iron Man fans, but science fiction aficionados.
In this issue, we see the eScape for the first time through the eyes of one of its users. The digital environment is one part amusement park, one part shared world, and is just a world full of wonder. As the unnamed user explores the eScape, we also see the beta test get set up, and a saboteur enter the world. Aaron Stack, the Machine Man, has been at odds with his girlfriend, Jocasta, for several issues now over her employment with Stark. With access to the eScape, he takes that to the extreme, and invades.
The story jumps in with both feet and it’s all the better for that. There’s a sense of wonder as the user begins to explore her surroundings, and one of panic when Aaron begins to tear it apart. It’s a lot of fun, but it’s also effectively immersive. We’re supposed to be piloting the eScape right along with the user, and it works.
Slott’s dialogue sparkles as well. His Stark is sharp, witty and funny. The side characters are all great too. In particular, Machine Man is a natural evolution of his Nextwave persona, but played straight in a very cool way. Add the twist of the user’s identity at the end of the issue, and it’s a whole package of an issue.
Schitti’s line art is next level here. While I’ve enjoyed his work as a craftsman and storyteller for a long time, he really shows his depth as a designer here. He doesn’t just create and populate one world here, but multiple worlds, over and over, as the user browses her surroundings.
He takes advantage of that though. He still tells a great action story on top of all the design work. The fight against Machine Man looks so great, and that’s in both the big details and little touches.
Delgado and Rosenberg take what Schitti draws and elevates it. The eScape is a psychedelic fantasy land, and they push the limits of that over and over. Without their work, I don’t think it would have clicked nearly as well as it.
Lanham’s work also adds to the immersion. He plays with the balloons, fonts and the page to make it feel like you’re piloting the avatar just as much as the art does.
Iron Man fans need to join in on this great new era of the character. It’s giddy fun scifi superheroics, just like Iron Man should be.
Tony Stark: Iron Man #3 is currently available from Marvel Comics.