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Iron Man #5: Inspector Spacetime

Tony Stark must track down a thief in space, and then makes his big decision to conquer the final frontier.

Iron Man #5

Writer Kieron Gillen promised to send Iron Man beyond the stratosphere and get all Star Trek with him. It makes sense, as Stark's always had a swagger akin to James Tiberius Kirk, so why not have him conquer space, the final frontier?

In Iron Man #5, he makes that decision to embark on a perilous journey to the stars after confronting a friend from the past with interestellar ambitions. Eli has big ideas about the advancement of humankind, lamenting that the moon landing is as far as they've gotten – superheroes notwithstanding. Thus, he's stolen a portion of Extremis technology to actually put to good use by retrofitting the human body to survive in space. To walk on Mars without suits. To boldly go where no man has gone before. And it burns Tony up that he has to put the kibosh on all of this due to the risks of Extremis tempting the bad guys. As a result, he decides to take up the cause of the dream he just hampered by taking back what Eli stole, and builds a new, really ugly suit of armor with which to go muck around in space.

Iron Man In Space is a good hook, and Gillen's wide scope and high-minded concepts are intriguing, just as they were when he was developing Mr. Sinister's crazy-clone endgame over in Uncanny X-Men. And I can't help but lament how much more compelling this book with be if I didn't want to punch every character in the face because of how douchey artist Greg Land makes everyone look.

On The Book Report podcast, my esteemed colleague Iann Robinson boiled down the Greg Land art style into one word – a rather indelicate word, of course (it starts with 'c'), but it's one with which I was hard pressed to argue. No smile he ever draws has even a hint of warmth to it – it's always that kind of toothy dickhead smile you want to slap off of someone's smug asshole face. His women all have that same pouty-lipped traced-from-an-'80s-model look, except when they smile, it looks like some kind of porngasm. The upside here is that Land is pretty solid when he's NOT drawing people, and that he has to draw Iron Man a lot, and even he can't make a metal helmet look smarmy. Just, you know, ugly, as you can see in the image above.

The new Marvel NOW version of Iron Man could be really cool if the artwork was anywhere near as engaging as the story beats are. Unfortunately, it's not to be, so the series can't really get much better than noncommittal shrug of acceptance. All is certainly not right with it, but… eh, it's all right.

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