INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #598
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Penciller: Stefano Caselli & Alex Maleev
Colorist: Marte Gracia & Alex Maleev
Letterer: Clayton Cowles
Release Date: 3/28/18
With Tony Stark missing and Victor Von Doom having taken his place, Captain America has warned the Avengers not to face their old enemy alone. Where in the world could the real Iron Man be, and will his protégé Ironheart find him first?
Plot: Riri is visited by none other than Blade, who wants her to return to MIT and search for Stark there. Over in Latveria, Victor Von Doom has been captured and is currently being questioned by those who want his money and knowledge of his connection to Tony. Friday almost tracks him down, but instead she accidentally leads Riri to a trap where she must fend off several villains who wind up being nothing more than drones. Instead of Tony’s lair, they find themselves in Ceres Goldstein’s and realize that Stark doesn’t want to be found.
Story: Invincible Iron Man #598 marks the sixth entry into the “Search for Tony Stark” arc, and the heroes seem to have made no more progress towards their goal than before. While Riri makes a few new friends – chief among them Blade, who will hopefully come into play in a larger way after Bendis’ run – her story doesn’t seem to be evolving. She’s consumed by looking for Tony, who doesn’t seem too bothered about being found. It almost makes me wonder why they’re trying so hard, to be honest.
That being said, Doctor Doom’s side of the story isn’t moving much more quickly either. The bomb dropped on the final page raises a lot of questions about his relationship with Amara and perhaps opens doors to future stories, but for now it lacks build-up and seems designed to shock more than anything else. The appearance of The Hood and his gaggle of low-level supervillains is interesting, but it seems strange to connect Riri and Doom at the moment when there isn’t much of a link between their stories.
It’s certainly fun to watch Riri team up with her so-called “Armor Squad,” and the plot detour will be worth it if they all stick around and eventually become proteges of Tony’s or peers of Riri’s. Not to mention that it’s cool to see the world of Bendis characters interconnect, with Ceres Goldstein being captured thanks to Tony’s misdirection after wreaking havoc in Spider-Man stories. On the other hand, I’m sure that the movement in Doom’s story during Invincible Iron Man #598 would be more enjoyable to me if I were a consistent reader of his series.
Art: The back and forth between Riri’s world and Doom’s is just as visually jarring as before, but the artists on both sides are clearly very talented and know how to make the most of their story’s surroundings. Stefano Caselli continues to provide a rich and detailed world for Riri to play in, and his close-ups are especially expressive. Marte Gracia adds in another layer of emotion via shading and vivid coloring, making Invincible Iron Man #598 as attractive as ever. Meanwhile, Alex Maleev brings his signature style to the table as well, and I have to admit that hit visuals elevate what would otherwise be subpar story and dialogue. His dark and gloomy colors also fit Doctor Doom’s personality perfectly, and there’s no doubt he’s an excellent choice to bring the character to life. Nevertheless, the artistic styles are so different that it might be better to separate into two sections so that Riri and then Victor’s plots can be read all the way through.
One point that’s definitely in the art’s favor is how balanced even the busiest of panels can be. Even when the entire Armor Squad in on the page and talking to each other, the space is used well and Clayton Cowles’ lettering is never overbearing. And this is true in the case of Alex Maleev’s worth as well.
Verdict: Invincible Iron Man #598 answers a few more questions about the disappearance of Tony Stark, but the progress of the story arc is mostly slow if not meandering. The bursts of character development for both Riri and Victor are interesting enough to keep going, but impatient readers would be better served to wait until this part of the series can be collected in a trade.
Star Rating: 3 out of 5