One of the things that the craze for repackaging has taught us is that not every comicbook merits a reprint, particularly not in a glossy hardback book. I had high hopes for Iron Man : Doomquest. I still consider the Michelinie, Romita Jr, Layton era of Iron Man to be the high watermark for Ol’ Shellhead, and Issue 150, one of those collected in this book was one of my favourite comics at the time. Of course, at the time, I would have been eleven years old.
So lets discuss the contents. In Issue 149 of Iron Man, our titular avenger gets in a kerfuffle with Doctor Doom and at the climax of the issue the two are catapulted into the unknown. In the double sized issue 150, it turns out that the unknown is Camelot, whereby Iron Man fights alongside King Arthur whilst Doom joins up with Morgana Le Fey before they find a way back to the present day where the status quo is restored.
In issue 249 of Iron Man, our titular avenger gets into a kerfuffle with Doctor Doom and at the climax of the issue the two are catapulted into the unknown. In the double sized issue 250 it turns out that the unknown is the future, whereby Iron Man fights alongside an infant King Arthur, and Doom joins up with the Iron Man from 2020, before they find a way back to the present day where the status quo is restored.
First things first. The second story is such a homage to the first one that the first three pages of issue 250 are a scene for scene re-enactment of the opening to issue 150. But that comic was 8 years previous, and in the days before trade paperbacks, your casual reader would have had little idea. David Michelinie had been away from the title before he and Layton were reunited as a dream team, but this slavish reimagining of the earlier story, enjoyable though it is, reveals a paucity of imagination.
Unfortunately, pairing it with the earlier issues doesn’t do the later story any favours. Even by 1981, Romita Jr was a phenomenal talent, soon to leave Iron Man for The Amazing Spider-Man. Working with Michelinie and Layton, they had brought a real sense of drama to Tony Stark’s tales and set the template for much of his future, particularly with regard to his alcoholism. Romita Jr’s Iron Man was crisp and dynamic, never static or clunky. The splash page of our two combatants arriving in Camelot, reproduced on the cover, is a fine example of his artwork.
The second story pales by comparison. Layton may be a good storyteller, but he’s not in the same class. His characters lack the grace that they possessed in the earlier story and at the tail-end of the eighties, they’ve unfortunately inherited the big hair and outlandish fashions that mean these issues have dated much more than the earlier ones.
In an ideal world, these two stories wouldn’t be in the same book and the inadequacies of the latter wouldn’t be so glaring. The book still has a superlative example of a story told in the Merry Marvel Manner. It’s just a shame that it has to follow it up with a poor imitation.
Cost : I bought it from Excelsior Comics in Bristol at the bargain price of £8.99. It’s available at £10.19 from FPI. If you enjoy your 80s Marvel, that’s probably a good price.