REVIEW: Tony Stark: Iron Man #3 – “Non-Player Character Assassination”

Writer: Dan Slott
Penciller: Valerio Schiti
Colorists: Edgar Delgado and Rachel Rosenberg
Letterer: Travis Lanham
Price: $3.99

Release Date: 8/15/18

In Tony Stark: Iron Man #3, we learn just why Machine Man has an issue with Iron Man and how Tony’s latest development will affect AIs in the Marvel Universe. All that, plus relationship updates and the return of classic villains. Does Slott take on more than he can handle, or is he pacing Stark’s story just right? Read on to find out.

Plot: Tony initiates a beta Turing test for the new Great eScape program, requiring that participants identify the human characters out of a sea of lifelike NPCs. It goes about as well as can be expected.

Story: Tony Stark: Iron Man #3 is populated with all the supporting characters that the last run amassed over the course of dozens of issues, but Dan Slott is no longer weighed down by introducing them and fleshing out their backstories. Instead he can freely play them off against each other one another and create new and exciting interactions, not to mention use them for his plot purposes without them feeling clunky or extraneous.

Speaking of recent additions, Jocasta’s machine-terrorist boyfriend Aaron Stack is a surprisingly hilarious one. His character combines the hypocrisy of extremism with the very real danger that enticing rhetoric can pose. He also becomes an important part of the visually appealing dichotomy of humans in computers versus computers in the human realm. The story is much more of a fun romp than it is a morality lesson, which is a very good thing. Even if Slott is introducing the somewhat overplayed thesis that the cruelty and kindness of robots both stem from their humanity rather than the reverse, he does it with style and in a way that reads as more of an action-adventure than anything else.

The appearance of Doctor Strange almost had me going for a second, but the reveal turns out to be even better and makes a hilarious point about Tony Stark’s ego without making him come across as too unlikeable. Even better, though, is the push-and-pull with Jocasta and how important she winds up being to story while fitting in seamlessly with the narrative. The final pages are even, dare I say, heartwarming for her.

Art: Valerio Schiti and Edgar Delgado make a great art team, showing off their polished sense of design in Tony Stark: Iron Man #3. Schiti knows how to make single panels feel like they’re in motion in the midst of stillness, and together with Delgado (not to mention with help from Rachelle Rosenberg) they smoothly separate the “real” world from the digital one. The funky details in the backgrounds of cyberspace contrast nicely with the more open spaces of reality, and are colored in with appropriate differentiation. Both locations are allowed to be bright and cheery, but the color palette is just distinguished enough for the reader to notice while still being cohesive.

The meshing of man and machine is thoroughly incorporated into the artwork during all of Tony Stark: Iron Man #3, which gives the artists a sense of direction that’s rarer in comics nowadays. Every panel is imbued with a purpose that helps to convey the theme, even the more enjoyable action sequences within The Great eScape program. Not that those don’t deserve their own props for fluidity of motion and creativity of design.

Verdict: Overall, Tony Stark: Iron Man #3 looks gorgeous and produces an exciting story in its own right. It could make for an enjoyable and high calibre one-shot without ever having to be taken further, but the use of previously established characters and the insights into Tony’s psyche help paint a picture for the larger story of Stark’s corner of the universe as well.

Star Rating: 4.5 out of 5