Say what you want about Brian Michael Bendis, but the man’s self-awareness is better than 95 percent of the rest of the writers employed by Marvel. When he knows a particular story is open to criticism, he tends to find ways to subtly acknowledge the problem within the issue as a way of disarming bloggers like yours truly.
Take, for example, Invincible Iron Man #8, which is bursting at the seams with all it’s trying to accomplish. It is busy, busy, busy — but at one point Spider-Man says of the situation, “Ninjas and robots and Rhodey in his embarrassing boxers, oh my!”
Touché, Mr. Bendis. Touché.
For those who have not been reading the story, it goes as follows: Tony Stark offered a job to Mary Jane, Rhodey disappeared in Japan trying to find bio-hacking ninjas, and Spider-Man was called to help find him.
IIM #8, again, is a very busy issue. Mary Jane appears to walk away from Stark’s job offer (we know that won’t last), Iron Man and Spider-Man look for Rhodey, and it all culminates in a battle involving a horde of ninjas and a gigantic Iron-Man-inspired suit that utilizes mysterious technology.
Question: Is it a good issue?
Answer: Yes — with one minor caveat.
The problem with writers who take on Tony Stark and Peter Parker is that sometimes they use the sarcasm button too many times in a single issue. Yes, both men are masters at the one-liner. Yes, both men use sarcasm to mask all sorts of fears and insecurities, but it is possible to overdo it. Using such a trait when it’s uncalled for makes a character come across as a jerk. Luckily for Bendis, he realizes that one way to add extra gravity to the book is to find a situation so dangerous that it finally shuts Tony up.
Whoever this new villain is, he or she found a way to leave Tony speechless by the last page. It was a welcome surprise after countless panels of Iron Man, Spider-Man, and Rhodey all basically blowing off what appeared to be a serious opponent.
In many ways IIM #8 was going to succeed or fail based upon what happened on the final page, and it is safe to say that Bendis … detonated it.
Invincible Iron Man continues to be one of Marvel’s most carefully crafted books. If you want stories by a “writer’s writer,” then you should check out Bendis. If you want “nuke the fridge” moments reminiscent of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, then I suggest checking out Dan Slott’s run on The Amazing Spider-Man.
If you’re like me, then you were glad to see that Bendis seems to feel the same way about Spider-Man’s stupid glowing spider on the new suit. In response to finding out that Iron Man’s suit has A.I., Spider-Man says, “Cool. My spider glows now for no apparent reason.”