Originally title “Iron Man 1.5,” “Iron Man 2: Public Identity” #1 begins the three-issue mini-series that bridges the gap between the two “Iron Man” movies, picking up with the final scene of the first movie at the beginning of the issue. From there, the issue explores the fall-out of Tony Stark’s decision to reveal that he is Iron Man to the world with a special emphasis on his relationship with the military, something that seems to be important in the upcoming movie, judging from the trailers.
Co-plotted by Justin Theroux, the screenwriter of “Iron Man 2,” this issue does a good job of continuing from the first film with Joe Casey providing dialogue that’s consistent with that world. The Tony Stark here is self-involved and unwilling to listen to anyone else. At times, you can almost hear Robert Downey, Jr. saying the lines. However, delivering on the movie characters’ voices is just about the only thing this comic does well throughout.
The plot is scattered; there’s a hint of an antagonist having to do with Tony’s father, who has a similarly cavalier attitude to his son albeit reined in somewhat, but that is left on the back-burner until the end of the issue. In the meantime, it’s superficial ‘Tony Stark makes himself look good and annoys the military’ stuff with him rushing into situations and acting before he’s told to. An interesting idea, but one that isn’t really developed here. If anything, it seems like in laying the groundwork for the movie, the comic has to hold back a little.
The art is equally inconsistent with Barry Kitson and Ron Lim both delivering pages that don’t look complete. Something that stands out immediately is that none of the characters look like their movie selves, instead seeming patterned off the regular comic versions of the characters. While there could be likeness rights issues at play preventing Tony Stark from looking like Robert Downey, Jr., it does make it difficult for this book to stand out visually from other Iron Man comics. The changed cover design from the solicitations helps, though, using the “Iron Man 2” movie logo and the same colors.
Beyond the looks of the characters, the finishes on many of the pages doesn’t look fully completed. Some pages have the level of detail and refined line that Kitson usually delivers, but others look a lot rougher. The art is still clear and easy to follow, but it looks simplistic and rushed. Towards the end of the issue, the art looks better, a little crisper with characters’ faces containing more definition, but the middle pages suffer.
If you’re curious about what happens between the two Iron Man movies, give this comic a look. The plot has potential and the characters’ voices are spot-on with the movie versions. While the lack of likenesses to the actors is a little off-putting, the art also suffers from inconsistency, but the storytelling is strong. It’s a solid comic that’s overwhelmed by small problems.