Sunday, November 15, 2015

Comic Book review: Armor Wars (2015)

Technopolis, as its name implies, is a sprawling hyper-futuristic metro, where all citizens are forces to wear variants of the Iron Man armor to prevent themselves from contracting a lethal virus that was unleashed on the region many years prior. Tony Stark is resident baron, and often clashes with his brother Arno. James Rhodes is Tecnopolis’ designated Thor, wielding a giant hammer and shiny Asgardian-inspired mechanical suit. And young Kiri Oshiro and Lila Rhodes, both resourceful teens who know a thing or two about tinkering with and repurposing the tech of these armored suits, begin unraveling the mysteries surrounding the death of Kiri’s boyfriend Peter Urich, aka Spyder-Man.

James Rhodes, meanwhile, begins his own investigation into the death of Spyder-Man, suspecting that Kingpin Wilson Fisk might have some involvement. Meanwhile, Arno Stark begins sending reconnaissance troops like Stingray to scope out just what his brother Tony, Kiri, Lila, or anyone else who may have interacted with Spyder-Man are up to. These interwoven plot threads make for a decently compelling narrative, while also preventing the story from becoming too convoluted.

Armor Wars is a standout entry among the Secret Wars spinoffs for the manner in which it handles its processes of world-building. The constant threat of being exposed to the natural world paints an eerie world where humans grow to accept rocket-powered machinery as an extension of themselves. Armor Wars also offers a few really strong plot twists, while simultaneously avoiding playing on a scale too grandiose for its own coherence.

The theme of where man ends and machine begins is certainly common to Iron Man-centric tales, but it is fresh to see a large portion of the story through the eyes of youth Kiri and Lila. There are a couple of points where the story slows down more than is perhaps ideal for Armor Wars' overarching plot, pacing which would be better-suited for a series that is not limited to a five issue run. Overall, however, Armor Wars is an enjoyable read, a dark mystery driving toward an action-packed climax. Of all the Secret Wars spinoffs, Armor Wars performs as one of the best at keeping itself within manageable boundaries of narrative pacing and character development.

My rating: 8.25 (out of 10)

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