In response to DC’s Batman: Earth One and Superman: Earth One original graphic novels, Marvel has launched a series of “Season One” books. Whereas DC’s books take place in alternate universes to the one that comic readers currently know, it is unclear whether Marvel’s efforts will be canon or part of a different continuity. Many of their current comics have been retconned a bit to fit with the Marvel movieverse, so it is possible that these are going to be considered actual origin stories. Regardless, those who want an Iron Man origin story (who somehow hasn’t seen the movie) and don’t want to go back to reading comics from the 1970’s (who could blame them), will get all they can handle with Iron Man: Season One.
Howard Chaykin’s re-telling keeps the basic elements and amplifies them. Tony Stark’s alcoholism is omnipresent and colors the whole book. Gerald Parel’s painted art, which is nice to be seen depicting Iron Man again, fits in well as certain panels look almost muddled, as if the reader were inebriated themselves.
Stark himself is, as before, captured by terrorists that he inadvertently helped supply with weapons. The deeper significance is that the terrorist leader is an old college drinking buddy of his, Maouad Khouri, that has since become severely fundamentalist. He wants Stark to build a bomb but he uses the technology to create the original iron suit to help him escape. Along the way, he burns Khouri and his base to the ground. Nearly constantly intoxicated, he makes his way back to Stark Industries and begins to expand on his invention.
Khouri somehow survives and is horribly disfigured. His men use Stark’s suit plans to rebuild his broken body into a weapon. He comes back to wreak havoc on Stark, the seeming embodiment of morally bankrupt Western values. For Tony to stop his former friend, he has to choose what matters to him, what’s most important, and what’s right. For the first time in his life, Tony Stark must make a sacrifice to save the day.
The art is wonderful in this book, as the paint soaks the pages as alcohol does Tony Stark’s liver. The story is familiar but with layers that give make it fresh. Rookie Iron Man fans should enjoy this case study of what makes this hero more than just his wealth and resources.