Notes On Iron Man 5

I tried to post this on tumblr, but it wouldn’t. Hmm. Too long? I dunno. I just dunno.

I am Doing It Matt Fraction style. I said “doing it”, etc.

Cover
Alien is amazing.
1
Title name drop on the first page. Shameless.

First of this arc’s structural elements – the opening scene back in time, showing the start of the antagonists’ plans. This is ELI, a new character, and – er – sort of a Warren Ellis analogue. The first arc is building on his work with Extremis, so I wanted to pay some kind of warped tribute to the man. I should have written Adi as someone too. Man!

Hmm. I don’t remember this page being this meta when I wrote the thing.

2
Yellow polo-neck, continuing our theme of high-neck fashion for Pepper so we don’t make new readers go “Wait! Why has she got that thingy!” and derail the plot irrelevantly for a half page.

The Pepper/Tony scene is the second of the structural element. Drop Tony in a situation with a confidant showing the sort of thing Tony gets up to when not wearing his armour, and in doing so, set up the theme. In this case, what sort of futurism that capitalism will pay for?

3
Seriously, I love that polo neck. The next Rescue suit is going to have a polo neck.

4
The instructions for the space-station was to basically give the impression of a bunch of real-world space-tech that’s been tied together and repurposed. This story is walking that dangerous line where it tries to mix the real world with the Marvel Universe.

5
Yet more of the modular Carlo Pagulayan armour, which I’m highly enjoying.

Eli is very much a British guy. This caused all sorts of problems dancing around the swearing.

6
Eli’s first line is a reference to the infamous banned Yogi Bear episode. He certainly made a boo-boo. Smarter than the average bear, sadly far stupider than the average hunter.

Also, concept for Eli’s group. Basically a tech-heavy heist team. Oceans Eleven meets Star Trek, etc.

Tony also reminds us why he’s going around taking everyone’s toys. I half wonder if I should have killed a few million people in the opening arc to remind everyone why it’s a big deal, but Marvel Earth probably has a population of about four hundred by now. I decided to trust people to understand that anything that can wipe the Earth’s population on a whim is a pretty risky thing to have out there.

7
Eli is considerably older than Tony. As he said on the first page, he’s someone who actually worked with Tony’s Dad. Working in real world elements line the moon landing is always risky with Marvel sliding timeline, but I thought it worth it. And sneakily, he doesn’t actually say he’s watching them live.

8
The rest of Eli’s team. I opened up the script rather than dictating, wanting to create a bit of a back and forth with Greg. I gave a list of attributes, nationalities and quirks, and got him to put together to form my Blake’s 7-esque crew.

This issue was packed, so I didn’t want to even try and introduce them all, but I like their vibe.

9
Yet more dancing around the real-world-science vs marvel-universe stuff. I’ve mentioned in interviews that before the idea for Tony to join the Guardians came up in the room I had a completely different take. I was going to be about as much hard sceience as I could do in the MU – which you mainly do by separating your action from what’s happening elsewhere so you don’t have Doctor Strange wandering in and saying hello. However, when Tony’s in the Guardians doing space-opera things, you can’t go that way without creating the sort of cognitive dissonance that just breaks a story in two. C’est la vie. I was pleased to get to use some of it here.

I also like the call out to our AWESOME ROBOT SPACE TANK

10
Nice big holograms, making chatty scenes more visual since forever.

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And a fight scene kicks off! Fight! Fight! Fight!

12
Oh no! It’s over.

This issue was tight, so it was always going to downplay the physical conflict, but the threat Eli’s crew posed to Tony was always philosophical. The question is, could he be tempted by this. I suspect Eli knew it’d go down this way, but also knew they had to try it.

13
Not that it leaves Tony very happy.

Do I have to point out Tony’s paraphrasing JFK here?

14
And Pepper in green now, which is always a good colour choice for a redhead.

This is a good example of comics magic. I had a completely different dialogue written for this page, but when it came to lettering, another idea came it. It was originally a bit more explicitly about the Guardians, but making it about “what has Tony learned from this?” would serve the conclusion of the story better (and also make it a bit less like the end of Matt’s run). So I did a complete rewrite, and no-one would have known if I hadn’t told you.

You know the idea that films only become films in the editing room? I’d say that’s often true in comics, in strange and mysterious ways.

15
Tony’s right. Our pelvis is shit.

16
I wish I had a machine that suited me.

17
The Guardian Suit makes its in-comic debut. Actually designed by Steve McNiven rather than Carlo Pagulayan.

18
And the climax of the ever-mutating AI subplot across the five issues. Clearly, Tony has to say it’s creepy to make sure that everyone understands that he’s not exactly an idiot. I think Tony’s basically thinks this as a high tech version of bringing a photo of a friend in a wallet.

19
And we’re back at the start of Believe, including a reprise of the dialogue. There he was at the edge of orbit looking down. Here he is, looking up…

20
And away he goes. I was hoping it works as the end of the trade for anyone who reads it as a single story (i.e. the result of Tony’s self-questioning dramaticised in action-fiction of the last five arcs) and also as the lead into Tony Stark’s Awesome Space Adventures.

I bet in the Marvel Universe version of Earth, there’s people saying the Tony Stark Space Launch Photos Were Faked. Those guys! I hate those guys.

Hah, the beard + bald head and a general (largely imagined, on a more careful second read) resemblance to Jeff Bridges make me think this was now-friendly-because-who-the-fuck-knows-with-Marvel Elijah Stane.

No wait it’s fine, there is no Elijah Stane! Zebidian, Obadiah, Ezekiel, yes. But no Elijah.