Iron Man: Iron Monger Premiere HC Hardcover – Mar 31 2010
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Perhaps the great flaw of this collection is the feeling of incompleteness, since, as I mentioned, this is the conclusion of a much longer story that ran for years. O'Neil took over writing duties with issue #160, introduced his main villain almost immediately, setting up a lengthy story where Obadiah Stane succeeded in inducing Tony Stark's alcoholism, stealing his company, and reducing him to a hobo's existence while Rhodey took his place as Iron Man. Eventually Tony sobered up, and with two new partners looked to establish a new company. It is at this point that the story picks up, with Rhodes dealing with a series of headaches and Stark undecided about whether he wants to become a superhero again. Stark is initially unwilling, but events have other ideas. The stage is set for the final confrontation between Stark and Stane.
It is a bit odd that Marvel didn't have this collection (or one like it) ready for the 2008 film, given that Obadiah Stane was the main villain of it. Stane, with his bald head and corporate modus operandi, may strike many modern readers as a derivative of Lex Luthor, but in fact this character predates the Byrne-era corporate take on Lex (who was at this point a mad scientist). O'Neil writes a complicated, interesting Tony Stark (though the lengthy buildup to whether he will become Iron Man or not may strike some as drawn-out, given that the end isn't especially in doubt). He also had a major impact on James Rhodes, who, while he had to give up the main title, would eventually get a suit of armour of his own, as War Machine. The art, by a number of different pencillers, is all good, and flows together quite well.
As I said before, the somewhat limited nature of the collection is its main weakness. In a sense, we only get the tail end of Tony's story here, missing on the preceding 30+ issues of buildup that would have made the confrontation with Stane much more dramatic. Likewise, some plot elements are left over that were dealt with in O'Neil's remaining 8 issues on the title (he left with #208). This story really probably needed a series of paperbacks or else an omnibus to get the full effect.
Recommended, with those caveats.
O'Neil, famous for his work on Batman, set the stage for Tony Stark's final confrontation with Obadiah Stane, the man who engineered his fall from grace and stole the company Tony worked so hard to build. O'Neil also spends a lot of time making James "Rhodey" Rhodes into the fully-developed character that would eventually become War Machine. Some of the characters and dialogue are very dated (Dr. Demonicus versus the West Coast Avengers anyone?), but the interaction between Stark and Stane, and Rhodey's personal quest seem relevant today and still excite this Iron Man fan.
The artwork in this volume was provided by a host of artists, including Luke McDonnell, Rich Buckler, Sal Buscema and Mark Bright. McDonnell's streamlined, Gene Colan-inspired art stands out, but it's issue 200 - the Mark Bright issue - that steals the show. Bright is responsible for some of the best looking Iron Man issues, and this is the beginning of that classic run (see the Iron Man: Armor Wars Prologue (Marvel Premiere Classic) and Iron Man: Armor Wars collections for more).
Obviously I'm a fan of the issues collected here. Is the Iron Monger collection a must-have for Iron Man fans? Probably not, at least not in the way Armor Wars, Iron Man: Extremis or Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 are. It's still a terrific run of classic `80s Iron Man issues, and one that old school Iron Man fans will enjoy.