Right off the bat, I think Bendis is a terrible Dungeon Master.
For those of you who have played D&D or other cooperative role-playing games, you know how hard it can be for the person running your characters through their adventures and that some of those people fall into the horrible pitfalls of being bad at planning a story. There’s one particular pitfall I like to call the Firm Boot of the DM, for when the story needs you to go somewhere and doesn’t care if you want to or not. Say there’s a wizard giving you a quest for no other reason than exactly that. Here’s your quest, go on and go adventure. You, as a player, may have questions or concerns or want some motivations from that wizard, but nope! Wizard is wise and unknowable and invincible so don’t start any fights with him, just take your quest and go. There’s always some larger war that wizard has to fight or some terrible burden he must carry, so don’t expect this Wizard to help you, just leave him alone to do some other grander thing and figure what to do next by yourself.
At least Doom gives Iron Man a next plot point to get to.
I have a love-hate relationship with the comic works of Brian Michael Bendis. Wait, that’s too strong a sentiment; I have a like-meh relationship with his comics.
On one hand, Bendis is a well-respected, intelligent author who has reformed a lot of how comics are being written these days, done a few landmark runs with Marvel characters and has pretty much set the tone for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. On the other hand, reading his books gets redundant, feels like you are going nowhere and doing nothing, and is choc-a-bloc with blithe dialogue that feels less like impassioned superhero speech than something overheard by a Starbucks barista. They can be a slog to get through at times, because they rarely feel like there’s going to be a payoff at the end of the storyline. Jonathan Hickman can be a similar slog, but at least by the end of the Fantastic Four run, for example, you’ve seen characters grow, change and come out the other side as new people. Bendis just feels like he puts the pieces back too carefully or breaks them irrevocably.
That’s not to say he’s not a good writer; there’s a reason Alias is becoming a Nexflix series and why the immensely popular Marvel movies have his signature dialogue. He gets big profile books because he is a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe right now, and if anyone needs a boost, it’s Iron Man. Kieron Gillen left tons of plot lines and big changes in his wake on the title and the Superior Iron Man series felt like we sidestepped all of that for a random new story that was quickly dropped for Secret Wars and its lead-in stories. Tony Stark is a mess, and Brian Michael Bendis is the man to shore him up and put the book back on the map.
But do you really want to chew through all those word bubbles? Let me get you settled on the ALL NEW ALL DIFFERENT Iron Man and you can be the judge.
WARNING: SPOILERS. Seriously, it’s in the title of this article you’re reading right now. Grab your copy of Invincible Iron Man #1 — no, not that one, the other one. The one from this year. Invincible Iron Man. Yeah. — and read along!