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Avengers Disassembled: Iron Man – The Singularity (Review/Retrospective)

And so I’ve finished my trek through the tie-ins to Avengers Disassembled. And it was surprisingly painful. Sure, Robert Kirkman’s Captain America at least made sense if you looked at it from the right angle, and Mike Oeming’s Thor was one of the best stories to feature the character, but the Invincible Iron Man and Captain America & Falcon tie-ins serve to illustrate just how lost some of Marvel’s top books were at the time. The Invincible Iron Man actually had two arcs tying into the big event, from two very different creative teams, perhaps illustrating that Marvel was aware of this fundamental dysfunction. Unfortunately, neither is especially impressive, and both feel like they are simply treading water, waiting for Avengers Disassembled to put the book out of its misery.

Things look Stark…

You’d imagine that any writer given relatively free reign to close out a chapter in a character’s history would take the opportunity to do something a bit different. Oeming’s Thor works so well because he uses the closing of the volume as an excuse to give Thor some measure of closure, and at least Kirkman seems to use the last few chapters of Captain America to hark back to simpler times for the iconic star-spangled Avenger. However, for The Invincible Iron Man, things seem to be business as usual.

It would be hard to come up with a more generic Iron Man plot. Some nobody in armour starts killing people while Tony has an attack of insecurity and the system seems to turn against him. The Singularity clumsily borrows from the conventions and clichés of countless better Iron Man stories to create a weirdly unsatisfying and strangely generic story arc that feels like it was banked out on a laptop in the space of about half-an-hour.

Hardly a towering accomplishment…

To be fair, there are the faintest hints of deconstruction to be found here, as the storyline seems to be on the cusp of suggesting that Tony Stark might possibly be a broken character with serious flaws. Gossiping in the ladies’ room, one woman asks a fairly cutting question about Tony’s address to the United Nations, “Who wears armour to the U.N.?” It’s a good point, but it’s about as close to the bone as the story arc dares to cut. Indeed, Pepper’s response to these bitchy criticism is less than convincing.

“A man like him shouldn’t have to worry about anything but his tan,” she tells him. “But he does! He worries about everything!”Gee, I’m completely sold. If the criticisms hadn’t been presented as a joke, that wouldn’t be anything close to a rebuttal. But that would require a smarter story.

Doesn’t suit him at all…

Later on, Tony’s doppelganger observes that his lack of a secret identity makes him vulnerable, “You know, there are reasons superheroes choose to hide behind a mask.” This might be a point if… y’know… the character had caused any real damage. Brian Bendis was deconstructing and reconstructing the secret identity schtick with more wit, intelligence and sophistication in Daredevil at the same time, so it feels like especially clumsy plotting

Of course, instead of plotting, we get superhero clichés, including the tried-and-tested women in refrigerators, a genre term that refers to the death or injury of a female character to motivate a male character. Here, Rumiko gets development and flashbacks solely so her death can ‘mean’something to Tony, which is the most blatant and awkward and completely genre-blind usage of that plot device that I’ve seen in quite a while. It’s the type of shallow plotting that people mocked in the nineties, and it just stinks up an entirely bland story.

“Why, yes, I do have a fridge at home. Why do you ask?”

It doesn’t help that somewhere Warren Ellis must be crying. (Well, not really. Not really, at all.) The prospect of an Iron man story based around “the singularity” sounds incredibly fascinating, a way of exploring the futurist nature of the character like Ellis did in Extremis.

Unfortunately, writer Mark Ricketts simplifies the term to little more than a high-tech-sounding buzz word, removing any real opportunity for the story to become more than just an idle place-holder. As Pepper explains, “Some scientists believe that technological advancement will one day become so overwhelming , so uncontrollable… it’ll threaten all life on this planet.”Um… I’m not sure that Ricketts understands the concept.

Who says the nineties are gone?

It’s so bad that even the combined awesomeness of artists Tony Harris and Scott Kolins, both of whom seem perfectly suited to Iron Man, cannot save it. The Singularity is a woeful little comic book story, a disappointingly generic Iron Man adventure served with a healthy dose of sexism.

Check out our look at the Avengers: Disassembled tie-ins:

2 Responses

  1. Reblogged this on BookRepublic.

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