ADVANCED REVIEW: ‘Darkhold: Iron Man,’ Issue #1

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Darkhold Iron Man #1

Darkhold: Iron Man #1 is published by Marvel Comics, written by Ryan North, art by Guillermo Sanna, colors by Ian Herring, and letters by Clayton Cowles. In preparation for a confrontation with the dark god Chthon, several heroes read from the dread Darkhold in the hopes of gaining the power necessary to defeat him. What the Darkhold showed these heroes may have broken their minds.

It’s always fun when Marvel or DC explore darker versions of their characters. While the good triumphing over the evil theme that most superhero stories are built on is timeless, it is cool to see these darker what-ifs. While Darkhold: Iron Man #1 delivers a tale of this style, it falls short of some of the best dark alternative stories comic books have published in recent years.

The single most interesting element in this tale is where it all goes wrong. I won’t give spoilers, but the change that occurs in Tony Stark’s transformation into Iron Man that causes this alternative history to go so bad is a stroke of genius on the part of writer North. Unfortunately, once the initial change occurs and the reader sees where the story is headed, everything from there is pretty predictable.

The only other thing that surprised me about Darkhold: Iron Man #1 was North’s decision to tell the tale entirely from the perspective of Pepper Potts. Using her as the point of view gives the reader a sympathetic grounding point from which to take the story’s beats. This is certainly a good call but still isn’t enough to save the book from its predictability.

The art in this book helps build the story’s atmosphere well, though I feel it does have its flaws. Artist Sanna is going for a style in this book that recreates the feeling of old horror stories. Heavy shading and good close-up reaction shots booth work to establish the mood of the story. However, there are moments in the story where the style implemented by Sanna fails to properly present what is happening. The simplicity of the design fails to fully convey the story’s events in a way that is appealing to the eye.

Helping with the book’s mood is a straightforward but mostly effective job by Herring on colors. Like with Darkhold: Iron Man #1‘s overall art, Herring’s colors are at their best in the broad strokes of mood creation but have moments where individual elements are oddly colored. This causes a bit of confusion.

The final element of this book is Cowles’s lettering. The lettering overall is well implemented, with a couple of design choices that further help the lettering to harmonize with the art. A few sound effects are also implemented quite well, giving a few moments in the story that extra bit of emphasis.

So, when all is said and done, Darkhold: Iron Man #1 is a passable, if somewhat uninspired, look at how the birth of Iron Man could have gone wrong. While it isn’t without its charms, it doesn’t reach the heights its initial setup could’ve attained.

Darkhold: Iron Man #1 is available October 13th, wherever comics are sold.


Darkhold: Iron Man #1
3.5

TL;DR

So, when all is said and done, Darkhold: Iron Man #1 is a passable, if somewhat uninspired, look at how the birth of Iron Man could have gone wrong. While it isn’t without its charms, it doesn’t reach the heights its initial setup could’ve attained.