REVIEW: ‘Iron Man,’ Issue #23

Reading Time: 3 minutes

Iron Man #23

Iron Man #23 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Christopher Cantwell, art by Ángel Unzueta, colours by Frank D’Armata, and letters by Joe Caramagna. Tony Stark feined being in a coma so he could hunt down Source Control in secret. With War Machine, Force, and stealth armour, he heads to Macau.

Some time has passed since the last issue, but it is great for the story. It places the characters deep into their sting operation, with Cantwell succinctly catching us up on what has happened beforehand. Source Control has several extremely powerful weapons for sale, and Stark has set about buying them. This comic has an excellent plot within one issue. Whilst much has preceded it, there is a circular nature to Iron Man #23, with what happens in the opening scene having a huge effect on how it ends. And both of these are massive surprises, altering the tone and pace of the comic. There are showdowns, and there are standoffs. When there is action, it happens suddenly, brilliantly utilising reveals and splash pages. What is also brilliant about Cantwell’s writing is that the final page always shifts the arc to a place that could not be expected.

The characters are superbly written. Tony’s evolution in this run is different, largely because he has a focus. For much of this arc, he has been sulky and wallowing in guilt, which still flares up in moments of this comic. In this issue, though, he is driven, to the point where putting his friends in danger is a second thought. But there is also this sense of him trying to be a mastermind, outwitting Source Control. That impulsive nature that often leads him into trouble happens again, and he is aware of the damage he does without wanting to sort it. Force is a great side character, but he also serves as the heart of the issue, much of the plot revolving around him. I actually felt that War Machine wasn’t used to his full potential. He questions Stark’s actions a lot, and the tension between the two rears its head occasionally, but he spends far too long on the sidelines. 

The art is excellent. Unzueta’s ability to instil excitement in drama inside and outside of armour is tremendous. The photorealistic art style requires extremely specific facial expressions, and that is achieved for the most part. The characters have thick outlines but very thin details on their models. The artist is amazing at demonstrating stress, from sweat dripping to increased bags under a character’s eye after not sleeping for a while. The meetings between characters in costume are also fantastic. Both the power and the clunkiness of the armour are presented beautifully. 

The colours can be both pretty and frustrating. There are moments when D’Armata is glorious. The colours on the stealth armour are jaw-dropping, and the brightness of powers and lasers is intense. But sometimes, the lighting is too focused on realism. The parts illuminated are great, but the edges of the panel are shrouded in darkness whilst still containing characters. The lettering is consistently easy to read.

Iron Man #23 is an example of great storytelling. Each chapter of Cantwell’s run is full of content and is a meaningful read. The character study of Tony Stark is investing, and the plots are both familiar to classic Iron Man comics and new in the territories being explored. The circular structure was superb, and the showdowns were full of suspense. Whilst there are some gripes with the art and some characters, it doesn’t damage the brilliance of the story.

Iron Man #23 is available where comics are sold.


Iron Man #23
4

TL;DR

Iron Man #23 is an example of great storytelling. Each chapter of Cantwell’s run is full of content and is a meaningful read. The character study of Tony Stark is investing, and the plots are both familiar to classic Iron Man comics and new in the territories being explored… Whilst there are some gripes with the art and some characters, it doesn’t damage the brilliance of the story.

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