Reading the Screen: An Iron Man For All Seasons
Posted by: David Pitt
Ready? All together now:
Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday to you! Happy birthday dear Tony! Happy birthday to you!
Tony Stark, better known as Iron Man, debuted in Marvel Comics in March, 1963. Two years later, in April, the man who plays him in the movies, better known as Robert Downey Jr., made his own debut.
And, of course, Iron Man 2 opens in May. If you just can’t wait, here are some Iron Man-ish things to keep you occupied.
Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 (2010), is a collection of the first 19 Invincible Iron Man comics — not the original Marvel Comics, but a new take on the character written by Matt Fraction and drawn by Salvador Larroca. The stories are exciting (and a bit revisionist), and the art is great: reminscent of the old Kirby style, but slightly darker, more realistic perhaps.
There’s also Iron Man, the 2008 novelization of the first movie written by Peter David. I know, the word “novelization” makes you cringe, but these scripts-into-books aren’t nearly as awful as they used to be. This one’s a lot of fun.
In Dale Brown’s 1998 novel The Tin Man, series hero Patrick McLanahan dons a high-tech suit to fight crime in an urban setting. Definitely the weirdest of the McLanahan novels, but as a stand-alone it’s really quite good. I read it when it came out and the superheroish things McLanahan could do in the suit reminded me an awful lot of Iron Man.
W.R. Burnett, author of the classic Little Caesar, also wrote a novel called Iron Man. It’s a boxing story, about a likeable up-and-comer who turns into a (mostly) unlikeable champion, and, oddly enough, you’ll find some interesting thematic parallels to the movie. And, cue the spooky music, the book was republished in 2009 by — wait for it — Stark House.
Iron Man: The Cal Ripken Jr. Story (1995), by Harvey Rosenfeld, is a good biography of the popular baseballer. Okay, not so many parallels to the iron-clad crimefighter here, but Ripken did get the nickname The Iron Man because he played more than 2000 consecutive games, despite injury, illness, and whatnot. Kind of the like the way Tony Stark keeps dragging himself back into that suit, ignoring his injuries, to keep fighting those bad guys.
And now, without further ado — ladies and gentlemen, Black Sabbath: