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- Published on Amazon.com
This review is written specifically for persons who haven't bought the single issues contained in this volume but who bought the previous collection and or people who bought the individual issues and don't yet own another collection of them in any other form. Is this collection worth it? Definitely. The volume contains high quality paper, solid binding, over-sized pages and a beautiful dust jacket and provides real value for money. Easily superseding the quality of DC's Legion of Superheroes Deluxe editions or Invincible Ultimate Collection HCs for example, Marvel also paid attention to detail and took the admirable step of trying to make this volume fairly identical in feel and quality to the previous volume so that there's some consistency between the two, right down to using red as the color for the inner Boards and pages. Presentation-wise therefore, this gets five stars and is a real steal for the price.
Unfortunately, it's the contents that don't fully manage to keep up. Containing issues 20-33 (14 as opposed to the 19 issues in the first volume), this collection contains basically two stories; Stark Disassembled and Stark Resilient. Disassembled is a likeable and fairly entertaining story in which Tony Stark is in a persistent vegetative state after the events of the first volume and needs to be "rebooted" by his most trusted friends and allies, including Thor and Captain America. It's a story that perfectly highlights Tony's hubris, brilliance, vulnerability and narcissism all at once, and moves along at a reasonably good pace, so that, despite the fact that Tony doesn't do a whole lot, there's enough going on around him that the story never fails.
Resilient on the other hand is a fairly plodding story representing a more expansive and maturer rehash of an oft told Iron Man tale, in which Tony is forced to rebuild his company and fortune from the ground up, only to be challenged at every turn by Justine and Sasha Hammer, the daughter and grand daughter respectively, of old late Iron Man foe Justin Hammer. It's a story that's been told many times before, as Iron Man is forced to "rebuild" his company from the ground up almost every other year since he was first published, but Fraction's take distinguishes itself from previous versions by highlighting Tony's vulnerability and giving greater insight into his mental and emotional state. One of Fraction's strengths is that he truly does get Tony's "voice" quite well, and indeed far more so than he understands Thor's or that world. Fraction manages to make Tony deeply flawed, but heroic, if also somewhat loquacious and venal. The major problem with Resilient though is that it's a story in which very little happens until the end, although there are one or two small highlights when it eventually comes. Other little niggling problems are that the story is focused on Tony exploiting his IM technology to bring cheap energy to the world using cars in an arc coming after one in which Fraction was at pains to tell us that one of Tony's 5 greatest nightmares is that his technology would fall into the wrong hands and after Fraction also focuses on the tragedy that can spring from its weaponization. Another niggling problem purely from a fan standpoint is that with all these Iron people in the book and all this IM tech running around, Tony as superhero loses some of his uniqueness and novelty, even while Tony as futurist becomes more compelling. In whichever case, Resilient is at least interesting for highlighting the supporting cast of Iron Man which remains one of the more interesting in comics, for having a particular world view and for broadening the scope of Tony's world. It just takes a long time to do it.
What really makes this volume sing though is the incredibly consistent and entertaining art by Salvador Larocca, who draws all the issues here and has not missed a single issue since no. 1. I won't say more about that as that alone should be enough to earn your respect for Larocca.
Is the volume worth it? Absolutely. One of the advantages of reading collected editions of serialized stories is that, even the most meandering stories when published on the monthly cycle can coalesce into a reasonably entertaining yarn when read at one sitting, and with both Disassembled and Resilient on the plate, with a unified writing and artistic vision for every chapter, it's hard to leave this collection totally unsatisfied. Couple that with the loveliness of the volume in your hands, the extras in the back covering alternate covers, etc, and it's a must have - for a fan of Larocca's IM run.