This is part of an irregular series of comic book collection reviews designed to bring Cedar Rapids and corridor readers the best comic stories they may not have read.
Marvel scored a lot of notoriety in the pulp community over the last few months thanks to the arrival of Mystery Men by David Liss and Patrick Zircher. But while this is the company’s first major attempt to create in-continuity pulp heroes, it is not the first pulp superhero story they’ve created. In fact, Marvel produced several in the last few years often hidden by view in their line of Noir titles.
Marvel: Noir was made to bring a 30s-40s sensibility to popular Marvel characters, but several creators involved with the titles took the chance to move past the conventions of noir in to straight pulp. No title took this to heart quick like Iron Man: Noir.
Now famous for his work on Batman and his American Vampire comic collaboration with Stephen King, Scott Snyder was still a relative unknown when he wrote the title with art by Manuel Garcia.
The story sets up Tony Stark as a big time investigator with Jim Rhodes as his aide. His secretary betrays him for Baron Zemo and Baron Strucker. She steals their latest find, a jade mask, Stark’s biographer (in pulp form of course) is murdered. After Stark and Rhodes make their mistake, we quickly learn that Stark is kept alive by a synthetic valve on his heart. His personal mechanic Jarvis helps keep it charged and Tony alive.
After recruiting a new writer, Pepper Potts, Tony and Rhodey set out to trail his former assistant’s last case: the finding of Atlantis. Along with a pirate captain named Namor, they discover the ancient civilization and even more trouble.
Of course, this all leads towards Tony taking up a full-powered suit of steampunk-style armor to battle against Zemo and Strucker. By story’s end, one can’t help but feel they’ve just experienced the first adventure of a great new pulp hero.
Alas, Iron Man: Noir never had a sequel so any subsequent adventures are left solely in the mind of fans. Nonetheless, Iron Man: Noir is pulp heroes brought to comics in all the right ways and well worth a read by any comic fan.
Iron Man Noir remains available in print. Copies can be ordered through local comic shops (like Alter Ego in Marion/Cedar Rapids or Daydreams in Iowa City) or at most bookstores (including Barnes & Noble on 1st Aventue in Cedar Rapids).