Invincible Iron Man #1

Although his ever-present ego says otherwise, Tony Stark no longer considers himself superior, so he's back to being invincible in "Invincible Iron Man" #1. Brian Michael Bendis takes control of the armor this time around, although it's artist David Marquez who wows readers with glorious, widescreen layouts full of beautiful people and landscapes; there's even a kind of perverse beauty to a bullet through the head in one scene. Together, they establish a new direction for the futurist, who has jettisoned the modular armor idea in exchange for an all-new, all-inclusive set that can allegedly do it all, although that capability has yet to be demonstrated.

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Bendis conveniently sums up the genesis of the new and improved armor in a sentence or two, which initially comes across as a little abrupt but proves itself to be a welcome gloss-over. Tony doesn't even don the suit until near the end of the issue and doesn't do much more than show off the armor's new functionality. Bendis is clearly saving this for later and instead chooses to set up the storyline first. Tony's boisterous attitude seems to have emerged intact from whatever conclusion "Secret Wars" has yet to serve up, but Bendis adds a refreshing sprinkling of conscience back to Tony's personality; his self-confidence hasn't taken a hit, but at least Tony's attitude now gives readers a reminder that he really is one of the good guys.

The comic's intro is free of Tony Stark entirely, in fact, as Bendis begins the issue by introducing the familiar and presumed antagonist of the new story arc. Bendis steps back during this introduction and largely lets Marquez tell the story, with pristinely detailed panels laid out in a way that immediately establishes tension and provides a perfect pace to this prologue of sorts. Colorist Justin Ponsor goes for realism rather than splashiness, making the introduction feel like a cold open.

Marquez and Ponsor fill the book with beautiful visuals, from the redesigned armor to the urban nightscapes to the brief glimpse of a Japanese garden; all are rendered with precision and beauty, making the issue as much fun to simply look at as it is to read. Throughout, Bendis lets the art tell the story as much as his words and Marquez and Ponsor's work remains relatively unobstructed. In particular, one brilliant comical moment is captured perfectly and wordlessly.

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"Invincible Iron Man" #1 is an attractive and impressive debut that stays true to the nature of Tony Stark while providing a bit of evolution for the character, which brings Tony a little closer to his roots as a hero.

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