Saturday, May 08, 2010

Free Comic Book Day 2010: Iron Man/Thor

Free Comic Book Day Iron Man/Thor #1, Marvel Comics
by Matt Fraction, John Romita, Jr., Klaus Janson, Dean White, VC's Joe Sabino, Alejandro Arbona

I'm going to celebrate this weekend's release of Iron Man 2 by looking at Marvel Comics' Iron Man-centric Free Comic Book Day offerings. Interestingly, Marvel released two issues featuring the armored avenger this year, teamed up with another character undoubtedly to prime the general audience for their inevitable cinematic debut. This issue, for instance, costars Thor, as he and Iron Man discover that a corporation terraforming the moon is inadvertently causing climatic havoc on earth. Of course, the scientists are a bit too mad to see the error of their ways, so our heroes have to smash things up. That the tech used to make this moon city possible is cribbed from Stark Enterprises makes for an interesting dilemma with Iron Man, but it also gives him the right to bash up an apparently otherwise sovereign nation. So goes politico-innovation.

Matt Fraction writes our heroes in a way that presumes they aren't very familiar with each other -- that they aren't longtime team mates. If they weren't actually called "the Avengers" at one point, I'd think this issue was intended for the movies' continuity -- and maybe it is, just in a broader context. As a reader that avoids multi-title crossovers like the recent Civil War, I appreciate these stand-alone tales; they preserve the characters' spirit sans context. Also, we get to explore issues without fear of said context; a rogue city on the moon could be a big deal in the Marvel Universe, but this is just a Free Comic Book Day one-off, so we can put it out there without really worrying about it again. Finally, Romita just absolutely nails it as always; if he isn't a millionaire by now, handling some of Marvel's most successful properties, it's a crime.

While I was waiting in line to see the Iron Man sequel Thursday night, I read this issue, and a little kid nearby asked to see it. He asked me who Thor was, and as I briefly explained, I realized this issue had done its job. Now, when the Thor movie comes out next summer, he'll at least recognize the character. You can't buy that kind of marketing . . . and I didn't! The comic was free!

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