Written by: Brian Michael Bendis
Art by: Alex Maleev
Aw Bendis why do you always do this to me? I feel like recently all I’ve done is hate on the guy and his work as if it’s personal, but I really am a fan of a lot of his stuff. The problem is he’s Marvel’s go to guy for books they want but don’t have writers for. Such is the case here, a Doctor Doom ongoing book is a great idea and especially relevant given the character’s development over the course of Hickman’s outstanding Fantastic Four and Avengers runs. Unfortunately, Bendis doesn’t understand the character at all, making Infamous Iron Man #1 your standard Bendis fare, which is even more disappointing that usual given how much potential it has.
The plot of this debut is pretty loose, with not much really going on. The newly handsome Victor Von Doom is plotting something and has been since the start of Bendis’ run. With Tony Stark now gone (thanks to this book spoiling the events of Civil War II, just like how Invincible Iron Man spoiled Secret Wars) Doom is forced to take a more direct approach by donning the mantle of Iron Man.
While this sounds pretty consistent, the issue’s script meanders around so much to get to this point, making every scene feel too stretched out and pretty pointless. It feels very typical Bendis style, made even worse by his incredibly poor handle on the main character. I never felt like I was reading a Doctor Doom series, but instead just a stock “villain” character, who isn’t even that villainous. There’s no time to get into Doom’s head space, and I know Bendis is likely just trying to keep his true intentions hidden from the reader, but it doesn’t work. It just makes the issue seem bland and soulless as we don’t learn anything about our main character. There’s a pathetic attempt to make Doom look imposing in the intro which for me just completely misses the mark. Superior Iron Man did a great job with the villainous Iron Man concept, a book the entire Marvel staff seem to want to ignore, so it’s even more disappointing that this book just feels so bland when the concept has been proven to work much better before.
If there’s one thing I like about the script at least, it’d be the use of some Fantastic Four characters. Being my favorite superhero team, it’s nice to have reminders that they haven’t entirely been shifted off the board. While not really having much of an impact in this issue, it does set up an interesting confrontation for the future that I’m excited to see, if there’s anything that can be said for me wanting to return for future issues that’s about it.
Alex Maleev also makes the jump over from International Iron Man to this book, however this is unfortunately not his best work. There are definite signs of his usual standard in here, despite the bad writing of the opening, he at least draws a pretty great Doctor Doom. The problems start shortly after however, with a fight scene between Doom and Diablo being nearly incomprehensible. After this, the scenes are mostly just talking heads, giving Maleev nothing interesting to draw and instead just repeat the same faces, a Bendis staple. Equally disappointing is the reveal of Doom’s iron man suit, looking nothing like the striking cover and instead feeling dull and soulless, perfectly matching Bendis’ portrayal of the character. It’s really disappointed to see such a talented artist turn in such mediocre work, but really that sums up the book as a whole.
Infamous Iron Man #1 is a painfully mediocre book, which is made even more disappointing because of how cool this could’ve been. Doctor Doom is Marvel’s best villain and he’s had such a good character arc over the past few years under Hickman. This project has legs, but Bendis was absolutely not the writer for the job. He strips away all the theatrical joy of Doom and everything that makes the character interesting in favor of making him a bland non-entity. There’s just so much wrong with this launch that has unfortunately become typical of Bendis’ recent work. I had really high hopes for this launch, but it’s unfortunately a total let down.