As is the case with all comics-to-film events, the success of "Iron Man" at the box office is expected to translate into interest in the character's four-color adventures from Marvel Comics. Two weeks ago, the publisher gave fans new and old a new Iron Man jumping-on point with the release of "Invincible Iron Man" #1 by Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca. This week, Marvel's doubling down with "Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D." #29, kicking off a new-four part story arc titled "With Iron Hands." CBR News spoke with the writer of the new-reader-friendly arc, Stuart Moore.
It was Moore's work on some "New Avengers" specials produced for the U.S. Military that lead to Marvel offering him the four0issue stint on "Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D." Moore accepted the gig because of his love for the character of Tony Stark and high-tech gadgets. "He's relentless -- as determined to do good as any character in the Marvel Universe," Moore told CBR News. "He can't sit still for a moment if he might be able to help people instead. I would never have thought to make him head of S.H.I.E.L.D., but it's absolutely perfect: It's another way for him to make a difference. In this story, he's almost always in motion, flying, fighting, and working for a better tomorrow. Sometimes he stumbles, but that's his goal."
As moviegoers have learned, Tony Stark is locked constantly in a mission to make good on the violence he's introduced into the world through his various enterprises. "I love the fact that Iron Man is a character driven by redemption --but he never quite gets there," Moore said. "There's always something from his past ready to come back and cause havoc."
In "With Iron Hands," a title symbolic of how Stark's relentless drive has affected the world, two separate demons will be coming back to cause trouble for Tony. "He's dealt with his alcoholism, but it's always with him," said Moore. "He's forsaken munitions manufacturing, but that part of his legacy is strewn throughout the world. "Tony has touched a lot of people with those iron hands over the years, ranging from his days making munitions to his current role as leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. Some of those people owe him his life, and others haven't fared well. The story spins out of that."
Moore's four-part arc specifically looks at how Stark's past as a munitions maker influenced the people of Kirikhstan, a fictional Eastern European nation. "Kirikhstan basically lost its moment after the fall of the Soviet Union -- fell into really horrible totalitarianism instead of embracing a freer style of government," Moore explained. "That's not uncommon, sadly. One of the villains comes directly out of that setting."
The adversaries and obstacles Ton Stark faces in "With Iron Hands" may come from different geographical regions, but they all stem from one central source. "Everything radiates from Tony; that's the world he lives in," Moore said. "There are two main villains--one is involved with the Overkill Mind and the other is a terrorist from Kirikhstan. I can't say much more without blowing some surprises."
In Moore's arc, Tony Stark is assisted by a bevy of the S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel at his command. "I kind of got to give Tim Dugan his last hurrah, because the story is set just prior to 'Secret Invasion," explained Moore. In "Secret Invasion" #1, Timothy "Dum Dum" Dugan was revealed to be a Skrull agent. "There's a nice bit with him midway through, which gives Maria Hill a clearer role as Commander of the S.H.I.E.L.D. forces whenever Iron Man is busy flying around or defusing bombs or facing off against villains. I also wanted to get deeper into the Alpha Team, the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in modified Iron Man suits who work directly under Tony. It's pretty hazardous duty, and these guys are the cream of the cream within S.H.I.E.L.D. They play a pretty big role."
The tone of "With Iron Hands" is a cocktail of elements from the techno-and-psychological-thriller genres. "It's in line with what [regular series writers] Daniel and Charles Knauf have been doing on the book, I think; but my style is a little different, probably a bit lighter in spots. There's a lot of nanotech weaponry, which drives artists crazy because it means I'm asking them to draw tiny, tiny things all the time. I like techno-thrillers, but they only work if the character is strong enough to carry you through the story. Fortunately, with Tony Stark, that's no problem."
Moore knows his collaborator on "With Iron Hands," regular "Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. penciller Roberto De La Torre, is an artist capable of depicting both strong characters and fantastic weaponry. "He's amazing. I love his work on the book, but until I worked with him, I didn't realize how beautiful his stuff looks in black and white--he can spot blacks like nobody in the field," said Moore, who worked as an editor earlier in his career. "Part of the book, one of the subplots, is being drawn by Carlo Pagulayan, who did this year's 'New Avengers Annual'--he does gorgeous women with real character, and great machinery too. I worked with him when I was an editor at Marvel Knights, so that's a nice reunion."
Writing "Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D." at a time when the character is a major box office icon means Moore's story might garner a few extra readers, and for that he's grateful. "But really, when I sit down to write a script, I just write the best story I can," Moore remarked. "Warren Ellis really sharpened the character into focus in 'Extremis,' and the various other writers -- Mark Millar, Brian Bendis, the Knaufs -- have built on that ever since. I just put Tony Stark in the suit and watched him fly."
Moore was amazed by the trailer for "Iron Man" and watched it so many times while he was working on "With Iron Hands," he worried the movie would be ruined for him, but his fears proved unfounded. "I absolutely loved ['Iron Man']. And even more: My wife loved it, and my mother loved it. Everything works in it. The script is sharp as nails, and Robert Downey, Jr. is phenomenal--you can't take your eyes off him," Moore said. "In a way, Iron Man is a lot like America. The best and the worst of it, rolled into one. I think that's one reason the movie is resonating so strongly with people, and it makes him the perfect character for the moment."
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