Writer Notes On Iron Man 11

Spoilers, obv.

Arguably the key issue in the run so far, I’ll say. There’s a lot I can’t talk about, and there’s a lot I don’t want to talk about. It’ll be issue 17 before we finish, and deciding what you think about it along every step of the way (and seeing what Tony thinks about it too) is very much the point.

Page 1
I do like coloured starfields.

We’re bookended the flashbacks in this arc with the current situation in the present. This contextualises it a little, and lets us see more of Tony’s frustration.

Page 2
I did spend far too much time deciding which old home computer to make a joke about. Being a Spec-chum meant the final decision was easy. Viva Le Spectrum, etc.

You’ll see me trying to get the odd talking-to-self neurosis of 451 in here.

Also note how Dale works the expression – the last panel has 451 much less “sympathetic” than elsewhere on the page.

Page 3
That this issue is basically the talky (if dramatic) part of the plot made me want to have at least some kind of action in the framing sequence. That Tony is entirely under 451’s thumb in the framing sequence does kinda dramatise the basic concept of the plot.

Page 4
“Punching & Sarcasm” is basically what we do.

Page 5
I do like Dale’s background details around the page – in this case, the circuitry of 451.

Once again, “Half A Lifetime Ago” to foggy up the timeline.

Page 6
This is conceptually aligned to some of the driving forces we’ve seen over in Guardians. When Brian talked about how Earth is seen today by the cosmic empires, it made me think about how it could have been viewed a few decades ago.

This is 451 at his least nervous. You may suspect this is practiced.

It’s not a bad string of observations. Earth is really odd.

Page 7
Graphs are great. More graphs in comics.

Maria is tricky. I’ll probably write more about her down the line.

I believe the lowering of the wine-glass was an insert choice by Dale.
Page 8
Howard gets the idea. Having a character like Howard (or Tony, for that matter) is a handy tool in terms of dramatising exposition. It shows his character, and starts working on the idea of complicity.

The end of 451’s pitch.

Page 9
And Maria immediately and rightly calls bullshit. This is something I talked over a bunch, but for me it was important to show this kind of thing. In the same way that Tony distrusts 451, so does his parents. Because none of them are stupid people, and 451 is all kinds odd.

And immediately we see 451 twitchier than he was before.

Page 10
Talking it through seemed extraneous. Use space to get the sense of what’s unspoken.

Page 11
451 being very apologetic, but the third panel isn’t exactly comforting. Alexander & Philip, for all their achievements, were butchers. 451 has gone so far into Ends Justify The Means that he doesn’t even register it.

Page 12-13
Just an unusual way to show 451’s modifications. Just a fun thing to explore.

Page 14
A hard-cut gag. I do like them.

The retro-tech alien gizmos do make me smile.

Page 15
The scene’s notable for a few things, but the actual physical violence of 451 is key. I suspect C3-PO could unscrew a guy’s head if he wanted.

I believe I actually wrote it as a neck break, but Dale went for a puncturing punch, which works well.

Page 16
Originally written a considerably different way, turned into a less-is-more approach.

There was some odd confusion with production and workflow this issue, but I’m basically pleased with it – at the least, I think the choices we made rendered the confusions invisible. Phew! Occasionally it works.

Who doesn’t like a shotgun pump?

Page 17
Hard cut to the desolation in space was meant to be a thematic segue, but it doesn’t quite work. Worth a try.

Page 18
And 451’s pitch to Tony – and, as we’re listening, the reader.

I normally work by de-constructing characters thematically down to their component elements, and seeing how they align (and differ) to the universe. I did a lot of thinking about how Tony differed from all the other super-geniuses. A lot of it is on the page.

(The tendency for us to sort of lump “Genius” as a sort of very generalised superpower is something that annoys me. I try and write different sorts of geniuses, with different fortes.)

Page 19
I’m not sure I believe Tony in the first panel. He’s totally that egotistical.

451’s proposition is an existential horror for Tony. He’s using everything about Tony to convince Tony that it’s true. By the end of the page… well, Tony at least can see that it’s a good argument. From here, on the final page, he’s actively curious, and that suggests certain things.

Page 20
Is 451 trying to trick Tony? It’s possible, but unless he’s lying here too, the first panel suggests at least he believes it.

And we set up for next issue, where the Stark Seven ride again. The Return of The Bear! Hail her.