Comic Review – “Essential Iron Man, Vol. I”

No, your eyes do not deceive you, I’m doing a comic review! Thanks for the ultra cool birthday gift Fiziko!

General Information

Title: Essential Iron Man, Volume I
Credited To: Stan Lee, Don Heck, and Jack Kirby
Original Publication Date: December 2002
ISBN: 0-785-11002-X
Cover Price: $14.99 ($22.75 CDN)
Buy from: or


Gravely wounded and captured in Vietnam, munitions maker, playboy, and scientist, Tony Stark must don an iron vest to keep his heart pumping. In addition to the vest, he constructs an iron suit to thwart his captors and defend freedom both home and abroad.

A prisoner in his life-giving vest, he shuns deep personal relationships, for fear that someone may discover that he is also Iron Man.

High Point

These villains are classic! The scale of communist paranoia is so great, this book should be supplemental reading for any course studying the cold war.

Low Point

I know Fiziko’s mentioned this in earlier reviews, but the lack of color really hurts the volume. I mean, it wasn’t until her fourth or fifth appearance in the book that I figured out why they call her "Pepper" Potts. She’s a redhead!

The Scores

Originality: Iron Man stands out as one of the few non-mutant, non-alien, non-magical superheroes (sort of Marvel’s version of Batman/Bruce Wayne). Using only his brains and a ton of courage, he takes on all manner of villainy. 6 out of 6.

Artwork: Iron Man’s mask makes it a little easier on artists, but they more than make up for it with detailed villains, action scenes, and the occasional tech close-up. 4 out of 6.

Story: Most of the stories are interesting, well-written and enjoyable. Some more multi-part stories would have been better, but something tells me that wasn’t the style "back in the day." 4 out of 6.

Characterization: Early parts of the book focus on just Stark with no recurring villains. This is fixed later on with supporting characters ("Pepper" Potts and "Happy" Hogan) as well as recurring baddies. 5 out of 6.

Emotional Response: While he’s not as pitiable as Bruce Wayne, Stark still exudes pathos in this volume. Later work compounds upon this theme, so these earlier issues set an awesome precedent. 5 out of 6.

Flow: While the stories may not span issues, characterization does. Stark and supplemental characters have complex and fluctuating relationships. 4 out of 6.

Overall: This book was a blast to read. I’d forgotten how much fun comic were (and still are). 5 out of 6.

Total: 33 out of 42