Marvel Adventures: Iron Man, Vol. 1: Heart of Steel
by Fred Van Lente, James Cordeiro, Ronan Cliquet (Marvel Comics, 2008)

Part of me still can't believe I'm saying it, though I've been saying it for at least four years now: What's needed more than anything in superhero comics today is FUN. The stands are dominated by Marvel and DC, whose products seem primarily to be dark, angst-driven, delighted with death and generally "mature" to some degree. I use the "m" word loosely.

This is why the Marvel Adventures line was and is such a breath of fresh air. In this case, Iron Man, Vol. 1: Heart of Steel takes Tony Stark and his iron-clad alter ego back to formula, so to speak. Thanks to writer Fred Van Lente and artists James Cordeiro and Ronan Cliquet, this is my favorite version of the character since the run of Kurt Busiek and Sean Chen, which began in 1998.

The story puts a slightly different spin on the origin of the character, while preserving the essence of Tony Stark; a once-arrogant man seeking to improve himself on the inside, not just the outside.

Van Lente does a wonderful job of crafting stories and setting a pace that is reminiscent of Marvel in its glory days. Action a-plenty, sufficient oratory and interesting characters abound. And, happily, these stories are not weighted down with whatever else may be going on in the Marvel Adventures universe.

Cordeiro and Cliquet have artistic styles that are wonderfully expressive and don't clash with one another. Detailed and intricate, they are well-suited to the high-tech nature of Iron Man stories, without giving an inch on the action necessary for a slam-bang superhero yarn. And, for the record, they both turn in two of the best designs for Marvel villains in decades: Cliquet's Plantman and Cordeiro's Spymaster are aces!

review by
Mark Allen

13 February 2010

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