Writer Tom Taylor and artist Yildiray Cinar continue the exploration of the ostentatious Tony Stark in “Superior Iron Man” #4 with an arc titled “The Choice.” Declaring San Francisco a crime free zone, Stark appears on the “Wake Up San Francisco!” talk show, schmoozes the hostess and introduces “Iron Sight,” drones not unlike the Spider-Bots Otto Octavius activated during his tenure as the “superior” Spider-Man.
The “superior,” self-righteous Tony Stark lectures Daredevil about high moral ground in a scene that shows just how far Stark has gone from being mostly morally balanced to self-centered and arrogant. Taylor writes Stark as an overly-obnoxious amplification of Robert Downey Jr.’s interpretation of the character. Stark is confrontational, self-serving and pompous. Somehow, through all that, Taylor makes Stark all the more interesting for those qualities. This inversion of Tony Stark just might be the best thing to come out of “Avengers & X-Men: AXIS,” and giving him to Taylor to script is inspired. Daredevil’s presence serves as a nice prism through which readers observe Stark, and the conflict between the two is as tense as though they were lifelong arch-enemies. Taylor doesn’t make this comic book about Stark’s struggles with his inner personal demons; he makes it a story about Stark trying to convince everyone else that his demons are better than theirs, which is an entertaining concept that the writer executes quite nicely.
With aid from Cory Hamsher and Tom Palmer, Cinar’s artwork ranges from serviceable to brilliant. His talking heads are technically fine, but they could use a boost of interest around them or through the colors to be more than fine. However, action sequences are where Cinar truly excels. His firm grasp of anatomy and strong storytelling choices really come together agreeably in the adventures of “Superior Iron Man” #4, especially when Stark sends the armor after a plummeting Daredevil or Teen Abomination rushes the Man Without Fear. Guru-eFX’s choices are bright and vibrant — sometimes too bright and vibrant. The bright blue lights on Iron Man’s armor really pop, but Teen Abomination’s skin does as well. The colorist doesn’t need to totally neutralize their palette, but some tones could be adjusted to give this comic a more solid sense of realism.
“Superior Iron Man” #4 draws a conclusion to Daredevil’s issues with Iron Man’s Extremis roll out in a most unexpected way. Taylor makes Tony Stark more of a jerk than he’s ever been and gives readers plenty of anxious moments for future stories as Stark continues down the path his inversion set him on. Four issues in, this concept is showing no sign of reversing and, at this point, I’d rather it doesn’t as “superior” Tony Stark is exactly the kind of arrogant character that is fun to read, especially knowing that his fall is coming at some point.