Saturday, July 18, 2009

Comic review: Iron Man: Armored Adventures (One-Shot) (Marvel Comics) by Adam P.

From Nicktoons to Your Comic Shop

Movies sure do a lot for comics. Marvel's classic Iron Man burst into public consciousness with a blockbuster movie in the summer of 2008, eventually grossing over half a billion dollars worldwide. Then ensued mass merchandising: toddlers and young kids had Iron Man towels, dressed up as Iron Man for Hallowe'en and went off to dreamland in Iron Man comforters. But until the April 2009 launch of the Iron Man: Armored Adventures cartoon series on Nicktoons, there wasn't much up their alley in terms of visual entertainment. The PG-13 blockbuster certainly isn't very appropriate for 6-year-olds dreaming about streaking through the wild blue yonder in a red-and-yellow metal costume.

Iron Man: Armored Adventures is a one-shot launched by Marvel based on the Nicktoons show. It's a welcome attempt at a comic for pre-adolescent readers since the Marvel Adventures line is often wordy, pun-laced and complicated, thus appealing mainly to teens and adolescents doing their own reading. Based on sales and the strength of the Nicktoons show, perhaps Marvel could turn this into a limited series or an ongoing title.

In the series, Tony Stark is a high school kid who's invented the Iron Man armour and is helped out in his death-defying missions by his two buddies Pepper Potts and Jim Rhodes. Baddies want to topple him. S.H.I.E.L.D. wants to know his secrets and sends their agents Hawkeye and Black Widow (both in pre-superhero mode) after him. A.I.M. wants to blow up New York City. Instead of playing video games like other teens, Tony is donning the armour and living them out in real life.

The issue is like an addendum to the cartoon series. It doesn't bother properly introducing any of the characters, which seems rather bizarre. The assumption must have been made that readers are already familiar with the actors and that younger readers won't be hung up not knowing who folks are. The storytelling and dialogue are very cartoonish. For instance, in the first story, Iron Man rescues a father from near-death in a crumbling building and delivers him to his young son, who is crying a river. Then the father tells the son not to cry because he loves him. To which iron Man thinks “good advice”. Huh? It's a moment that serves as a brutal reminder that this comic is based on a cartoon show that is utterly disconnected from any sort of human reality. Too bad, really.

The other story in this issue is a little more interesting, with S.H.I.E.L.D. agents tracking down Iron Man and eventually mistakenly arresting a blogger who's been imitating him on Facebook and Twitter. The groundwork is laid for a lasting friendship between Hawkeye and Iron Man. And interestingly enough we see Hawkeye and Black Widow in some costumed action in a preview from Marvel Adventures: Super Heroes #14 tacked onto this issue.

Although the issue will surely meet a lot of pent-up demand from younger readers and hopefully heralds future Marvel forays into books for that audience, there's nothing exceptionally special or memorable about it that isn't done far more effectively in the cartoon show itself.

Adam P.
Review Co-Editor

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