The artist David Marquez is under an exclusive contract with Marvel Comics, for which he drew among others many issues of Ultimate Comics Spider-Man (2012-2014), then of Miles Morales : The Ultimate Spiderman (2014) and four issues of All New X-Men (2013), all of these with Brian Michael Bendis as the writer. It’s therefore an understatement to say that David Marquez is used to working with Brian Michael Bendis. For the first time in his career, David Marquez is in charge of an Avenger personal series, and not a junior character, but a major one : Invincible Iron Man.
It all started with a deal, between a bald man and a mysterious woman who turned out to be Madame Masque. The first glimpse of her is amazing : look at her mask, how beautiful it is, how well-crafted, like a venetian mask for the carnival. She’s not wearing that hideous golden mask anymore, similar to the one behind which Dr. Doom’s hiding, but this fascinating little piece of art instead. This mask reveals how talented David Marquez can be when it comes to design tinny fantastic details. On the first two panels of the second tier, the man got shot by Madame Masque. Rather than represent the same face twice, the first without and the second with the bullet impact, David Marquez chose to divide the head between two panels, which strengthens the sense of shock at the sight of the blood explosion on the back of his head. The last tier is just as well-designed as the other two. Everything is geometrical, from the table to the armchair, even the man is in a shape of a star. The blood on the floor formes like a circle, an aura arround the corpse. But we also can see it as the scythe the Death bears – Death being in this case the shadow of Madame Masque leaving the room.
It’s finally time for our hero to make an appearance. But like a movie star, he doesn’t appear just like that. First, we get glimpses of his body : his back, his eye, his shoulder. Just like we saw with Andrea Sorrentino on Old Man Logan, David Marquez has squared all the double-page spread, even the two first tier whereas it represents a full scene. This gives a rhythm to the drawing, a pulse – like a battery. It prepares us to the entrance of Tony Stark. I am particularly fond of the second tier : Tony Stark seen from behind. We’re like privileged visitor in his workshop. All of his previous armors are stored on the right, while he’s working on a new one, the one that gathers every single armor he’s ever built. This scene, calm and peaceful despite the graphic rhythm, is a very interesting one : it’s not every day that we have the opportunity to spy on a genius conceiving his newest armor.
Iron Man would not be Iron Man without a touch of humor and beautiful women. We’ve already seen Friday, Tony’s personal A.I. assistant, now it’s time for Dr. Amara Petera – created by Brian Micheal Bendis and David Marquez for this series -, and Thor – who’s just here for a little cameo. On top of the Stark Tower, Tony is offering his date a catered dessert, and is trying to impress her by having Thor “accidentally” stopping by. This plot is not to the liking of Dr. Petera, and it’s funny to see Tony waving to get rid of Thor on the background, while Amara’s enjoying her dessert. Like the previous layout, the multiplication of little panels in this double-page spread give a rhythm to the conversation, while the first panel with the Stark Tower allows us to locate the action. This accumulation of panels lets David Marquez to only draw close-ups, therefore to focus on the emotions rather than on the action. Amara Petera’s profile on the last panel is beautiful : look down, serious face, she looks extremely worried about her discovery.
Unfortunately, confession-time is over for Tony because of duty calls. After almost an entire episode, Tony finally got to suit up. The new armor occupies more than half of the layout, the three panels on the left describing Tony’s suiting-up. Under David Marquez‘s pencils, the armor does not look like a metallic object, but rather like a suit fabric. Protected by his helmet, Iron Man is ready to take down the bad guys.
It seems that the bad guy is not who we thought was. Victor van Doom, unarmed and dressed in a regular suit – not a full-body armor – is presenting himself before Iron Man. Immediately, the first question that popped into my head was : what happened to Victor’s face ? The last time we saw it on Secret Wars, it was misshapen and burned. What happened between the end of Battleworld and now ? As a God, Doom kept his wounded face despite his apparently limitless powers. What has changed since that ? The presence of Iron man’s and Friday’s face on both sides of the layout is a way to intensify the perspective and the impression of depth. The spectator stands between Iron Man and Friday, directly facing Victor van Doom.
The upcoming adventure of Iron Man involves three masked – or unmasked – characters : Madame Masque, Victor van Doom and Iron Man. The mask allows a character to hide his true feelings, an injured pride with a wounded face, but also to be someone else. Behind Iron Man’s helmet, Tony Stark is not just a billionaire, he’s also a hero defending mankind. If Dr. Doom was a sociopath eager for powers and vengeance, maybe the realization of his dream as Battleworld saved him from his own dark side, and Victor van Doom will be Iron Man’s ally against Madame Masque ?