Jumping out of the pages of Marvel’s still ongoing event Avengers & X-Men: AXIS, Superior Iron Man marks a new status quo for the armored hero. Tony Stark was hit by a mental wave created by Doctor Strange and the Scarlet Witch, altering his personality into slightly sinister version of himself from his pre-superhero days. This series is drawing some clear-cut parallels to the Superior Spider-Man series, which also featured its hero befalling mental manipulation and acting in a more villainous manner. Also, like that series, bringing back Tony Stark’s better half can easily be done with the snap of the fingers, the story mostly exists to ruffle up the status quo and have fun while doing it. Despite the tie-in to Marvel’s latest big event, the book is new reader friendly as anyone with only the sparsest knowledge of the character can jump right in.
With his new perspective, Tony Stark moves his base of operations to San Francisco and gives every citizen access to a customized Extremis Virus via app. Within a week, almost everyone in the entire city is turned into the equivalent of a supermodel and heralding Iron Man for creating paradise. This issue places Stark in a not too subtle comparison to the likes of Apple in his new Californian home city, new iMac looking armor, and idolization by his followers. Plenty of writers could have drawn the line there and make these changes just superficial fluff, but Superior Iron Man bites a bit harder. Elevating everyone in San Francisco with a smartphone to “near physical perfection” also creates an underclass of people without the Extremis app who soon find themselves under attack by the city’s beautified denizens. If there’s one major flaw to this first issue’s story is that it relies far too much on telling the reader what is going on with the people of San Francisco instead of showing it. It’s all the more apparent when there’s a fight scene in the first few pages that is all well and good but a bit unnecessary, even when it has a good cameo appearance. Naturally Stark’s famous secretary, Pepper Potts, catches on that her boss has been inverted into a malicious form of his old playboy personality. She doesn’t just stand on the sidelines pointing out Tony’s acts of arrogance and indecency as normally depicted in cartoons and movies,but realizes the threat he poses and knows something must be done.
The creative team of writer Tom Taylor (Injustice & Earth 2) and Yildiray Cinar (Supergirl) have until now been almost exclusively DC talent as this marks their first major Marvel title ever. As such, they only dip their toes into the new universe they’ve been given, staying to Iron man and some recognizable faces. Taylor handles balancing Tony Stark’s new sinister agenda with others calling him out on his out of character moments. The story is starting small but has potential to expand into the greater Marvel universe. Cinar’s art is crisp and clean. It plays well with bright and sunny California. However, the backgrounds near the end leave a bit to be desired. The Superior Iron Man armor is a big improvement over the harshly colored black and yellow suit for the past few years. Overall, this looks like an exciting new take on Iron Man. While it might not last long, its set up to be a fun ride.