Writer Notes on Iron Man 9

Spoilers, obv.

It’s a fun cover, but quietly creepy. There’s a creepier one down the line on a similar sort of design, but this goes both ways… and sort of characterises the issue. It’s bridging the previous story (GODKILLER) to the SECRET ORIGIN. When they trade this, they’ll collect GODKILLER in a trade called THE SECRET ORIGIN OF TONY STARK Part 1, I’m sure.

I knew people would be jumping along at this point, so I’m trying to reintroduce a bunch of stuff, plus give a sense of where Tony “is” at this point. So we’re getting a little of the space-adventure elements before we segue into what’s a period piece.

Obviously, there’s a bunch of stuff I can’t talk about here.

Page 1
Obviously, the biggest change this issue is Dale. Rather than Greg’s stylised photorealism, Dale approaches the page in a style that manages to marry what people would consider as a classic comic look with enough modern touches to make it clear it’s not a retro look per se.

Dale also clearly is enjoying drawing all the aliens. These are all of his back – I gave the Mos Eisely nod in the script, and he went for it.

Here we introduce Tony’s status quo Re: The Guardians as well. And, yes, the intro page bio is a nod towards Hawkeye’s intro pages. While Tony being in the Guardians is important, I do want to stress this is IRON MAN which exists in a shared universe rather than a perpetual-crossover thing.

I really like the blue alien. At the front.

Page 2
Harpoon head shot. A reference to Impactor in Transformers UK? Who can tell.

Page 3
And say hello to Death’s Head, drinking some robot booze. I like the Kirby Dots floating off the top.

Also the top-half faceless robot at the bottom is interesting. I want to know more about that guy.

Page 4
This is a little bit of catch up on the plot, as well as selling the idea of some idea having passed. Tony and DH were fighting last time they crossed paths, but it wasn’t personal.

Note the circuitry designs around the page that Dale has added, which is a nice visual motif. Also, he really works the detailing on 451 to the level where I felt I should give 451 a jacket at some point in the story just to give him a break.

Page 5
My favourite thing is how tiny the money is.

Obviously lots of foreshadowing in almost everything Death’s Head is saying Re: Where the issue goes.

I note that when I get into the story proper, I set into a fairly standard five panel beat, with a few twists. This changes next issue, which is denser than I suspect is generally fashionable. I’d worked with Dale on Uncanny X-men before, so I had an idea what may and may not work, which is always useful.

Page 6
Another Star Wars nod from Tony. Your Kid’s TV never stops messing you up.

Page 7
I’m not a big fan of the transition here, but throwing in a bunch of panels showing their time trying to hunt him down – which I did try – there wasn’t really a way around it.

Death’s Head’s ship is a reprise from the SWORD series Steve Sanders and myself did. My first Marvel “ongoing”. If you like my Iron Man space stuff, I suspect you’d get a kick out of it.

Page 8
Yes, the spelling is a little dig at Superman.

Page 9
This is slower than I tend to go, but I’m trying to build a little atmosphere.

It was originally quieter too – I added some dialogue in draft state.

Page 10
This is perhaps where the 451-was-originally-planned-to-be-UNIT shines through. Pheremone abuse is one of his fave tricks.

Page 11
Oh Death’s Head, you and your dual meanings.

Page 12
Really like the first panel here. It’s simple, but there’s something to it.

Page 13
And the mood breaks into humour. I’m a fan of Steady-angle panelling (for a recent other example see Young Avengers’ Thor/Cap A scene).

The question is how long has PEPPER been compromised, of course.

Page 14
The swearing isn’t bothering Death’s Head. It’s the “Bounty-Hunter”.

And look at 451’s cheery little face in the last panel.

Page 15
Pedantry is the worst crime.

That Tony is moving around on his thrusters is Dale’s idea, which I quite like. Really sells the idea of Tony’s immobility.

Page 16
And we’re heading back into the more serious mood again. Nothing that showy here to do so, but just becoming a little more restrained..

Page 17
Dale draws a mean moustache.

Page 18-19
Another steady. Six panel grid. The sixth panel re-establishing that Tony is watching it was Dale’s call, which I think works well.

The choice was about trying to maximise the sense of confessional, putting you in Tony’s shoes, and really getting the sense of Howard’s acting, etc.

And then the reallllly casual reveal at the end. 451 is just… there. It normalises it.

Page 20
And then the final panel is on Tony’s response to this all. The point being less the reveal, and more what this could mean for Tony.

Next part out next week, I believe.