Writer James Robinson gets things rolling in “Armor Wars” #1 with a technology quote from Albert Einstein, then quickly follows that up with a four-word rebuttal from Howard Stark. Artist Marcio Takara matches that one-two punch and gives readers a quick glance at an Iron Man monument that sits atop Stark Tower.
Robinson delivers cinematic pacing from that point forward, setting up a grand, sweeping introduction to the character of Spyder-Man, who is more Iron Man wannabe than Iron Spider. That introduction and a mid-issue cliffhanger hit readers before the credits, which come on a double-page spread eight pages in. Robinson gives readers just enough about Spyder-Man to empathize and, undoubtedly, some readers will fully invest in the character. The writer keeps the rest of the cast tight but drops some familiar names in vaguely familiar roles throughout the domain of Technopolis. Arno Stark, James Rhodes and Pepper Potts also make appearances.
As readers can guess from the name, “Armor Wars” #1 has Iron Man at the center of it all, as Baron Tony Stark rules Technopolis under the auspices of Battleworld’s omnipotent overmaster, Doom. The Wars are waged between brothers, with all of Technopolis caught in the middle. As with all of the Battleworld domains, the Thors are called upon to maintain peace, and the choice of Thor here is inspired.
Visually speaking, Takara and colorist Esther Sanz play up the doomed dystopia to grand effect, with grit, tarnish and rust at play all over the domain. Stark’s armor is considerably shinier, with a brighter sheen to it, but even his armor has hints of wear to it undoubtedly imposed by the toxic environment. Takara excels at emotive faces and expressive characters, so giving him an assignment with armored characters at its core seems wildly counterintuitive. He makes the most of it and appears to have fun with it, but there are moments where the armor not only hinders the characters in the panels but demands rigidity of Takara’s drawings. The artist does experiment with line weights and thicknesses, different shading techniques and textures, but he might be much more at ease with a more organic adventure.
Letterer Travis Lanham makes a significant addition to the creative crew of “Armor Wars” #1. He provides a wide array of word balloons as each armored character has different filters and effects applied to their audible speech and, throughout the issue, Lanham is given a wide array of sounds effects to work up. Visually similar to the webslinging sounds from Spider-Man, this issue’s Spyder-Man moves along with “7HW1P” accompanying each sling.
Robinson, Takara, Sanz and Lanham craft a domain unlike the others in “Armor Wars” #1. This issue doesn’t feel regimented by the “Secret Wars” event and, instead, forges ahead on its own, establishing Technopolis as a dynamic contribution to the larger Marvel Universe. Part espionage adventure, part police procedural and part dystopian sci-fi adventure, “Armor Wars” #1 is a solid introduction from Robinson and crew.