Iron Man, in a way, is Marvel’s version of Batman. He’s rich, confident, a playboy, has lead teams of superheroes, and is plagued by personal demons. Unlike Batman, however, Iron Man/Tony Stark is far more charismatic and out-going with both his superhero and public personas. I’ve always thought of Iron Man as more of a B-list superhero over the years and never had much interest in him. This, of course, changed with the release of the first Iron Man movie. Suddenly, talk of this “war machine” was on everybody’s lips. I needed to know more about this gold and red Avenger.
The primary story in this graphic novel, The Five Nightmares, was released around the time as said movie and in retrospect should have been the plot of the second film. Ezekiel Stane, son of Obadiah Stane (Iron Monger) is developing technology which allows the human body to harness and utilize more of its energy. This new tech allows humans to become weapons and in a way eliminate the Iron Man technology. As most modern villains go, Ezekiel, holds a vendetta against Tony Stark for the death of his father and plans on selling this new technology on the black market. Ezekiel starts his open destructive demonstrations by attacking several populated areas and a Stark office building. These attacks also serve as a way to call Tony out.
It’s a story set in a post-Civil War world and it’s a different Tony Stark. He does carry most of the same characteristics as before, but he’s a darker and more aggressive person after the previously-mentioned arc. This is even stated towards the end of The Five Nightmares. To me, it feels like a mirroring of the US after 9/11. In a way, Ezekiel represents nations scrambling for technology in order to take down Big Brother America, with Iron Man standing in for the USA and its utilization of newer and more drastic tactics. Maybe I’m just reading too deep into things?
The Five Nightmares features a superb script by Matt Fraction. The dialogue feels mostly organic with only a few niggles here and there. Salvador Larroca’s artwork helps to tell this tale of revenge and retaliation. The action scenes, set pieces, and battles are fantastic in their layout and details, but some character faces can be distracting at times.
Our second story is that of Iron Man’s 60’s origin. Set during the Cold War, a wounded Tony Stark is captured by “The Reds” and forced to develop weapons for them. Instead, he works on the first version of the Iron Man suit in order to escape his captors and put an end to them. It’s interesting to see where Iron Man originally came from, but future origin stories – and the first movie – have done a far better job of retelling it.
This is a worthy addition to any collection and ranks up there with Iron Man: Extremis and Ultimate Iron Man. Go out and get it now.
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