Please be aware that this review contains MAJOR spoilers for "Invincible Iron Man" #1.
Brian Michael Bendis and David Marquez's "Invincible Iron Man" #2 opens with a confrontation between Iron Man and Victor Von Doom in the rubble that was once Castle Doom. Three pages of their conversation play out before the credits page, which letterer Clayton Cowles has crafted into a sleek, elegant and concise recollection of who Iron Man is and what brought him to Latveria.
Cowles' contribution to the overall appearance of this issue is undeniable. From Iron Man's customized word balloons to the scene designations, this comic is visually distinct, as Iron Man's comic should be, especially as the anchor of the All-New, All-Different Marvel Universe.
Artist David Marquez is also no slouch in the visuals. Elegant page construction, replete with traditional white gutters, dynamic perspective and smooth storytelling should be enough to sell this issue, but Marquez's characters are among the most iconic representations ever presented. The artist owns this version of Iron Man, but his drawings make the character familiar for readers, despite the fantastic feats the armor is put through. Marquez's art is dramatically animated, but so very realistically detailed that a photo of Montreal dropped in to establish the setting fits with the rest of the visuals, flowing right along with the story, almost expected but innovative enough to be playfully inviting. Marquez masters the expressions of the characters, right down to Madame Masque's slouched disappointment in receiving the wrong information.
Justin Ponsor is not to be outdone by his visual collaborators, bringing dazzling color to everything from sunlight pouring through rubble in Doom's destroyed laboratory to the reflection of repulsors off the magical dome Iron Man tries to rupture. The colorist adds textures and patterns, like marble countertops and stroma in the irises of close-up eye shots. Ponsor rounds out the visual spectacle that is "Invincible Iron Man" #2 nicely, blending into Marquez's and Cowles' work to elevate the visuals to a cinematic level.
Bendis pulls his interpretation of Tony Stark from film. Bendis has been writing Iron Man's appearances for years and has always maintained a delicate blend of snark, wisdom, conceit and brashness in Stark's dialogue. That shines through here, but -- in confronting Doom -- Stark realizes he does not have all the answers, which gives Bendis plenty of opportunities to explore with him. Bendis' take on Iron Man blends the familiar and the bizarre, giving readers a story that is satisfyingly couched in Iron Man's history while exploring new interactions.
I've rarely been a regular consumer of Iron Man titles, but I've dipped throughout the character's history. With stunning visuals from Marquez, Ponsor and Cowles and Bendis' intriguing direction, "Invincible Iron Man" #2 has me rethinking that strategy. Even better, this second issue is just as approachable as the first. Even without the recap page, Bendis and crew give readers enough information to absorb and comfortably move forward, just in time for this adventure to really blast off.