Saturday, January 26, 2008

Iron and the Maiden

From Jason Rubins, the creator of such video games as: Jak and Daxter and Crash Bandicoot we get the comic book “Iron and the Maiden”. Rubins and his financially successful video game company Naughty Dog, which he co-founded, in 1985. After nearly 20 years of videos games he left the company in 2004. What he has done now is create an excellent quality comic book franchise in which he hopes to expand into a video game and possibly a movie.

CBR in its year-end Buy Pile column, which has placed every issue of the comic on its list of what they are buying voted across the board for “Iron and the Maiden”. Even CBR said, “Seriously, nobody else even competed at this level”. That’s some serious compliments for this comic book, especially with other strong contenders debuting in 2007. These including: Black Summer, Dynamo 5 and The Gunslinger series. Does this mean I agree with CBR? Well no, “Iron and the Maiden” is not the BEST comic book series of 2007, but it’s pretty darn good.

The story revolves around the hit man Michael Iron. He works for the Mob, or what they call the Syndicate in the book, but it’s the mob. The year is 1939 but we see some technology from further into the future. This part of the story reminds me of “The Shadow”, “Batman” and even some “Dick Tracy” elements. Michael Iron is sent to give a message to The Order, a 3000-year-old religious group run by a pope like figure named Kelvin. We don’t learn much about this group on purpose, I would assume.

After challenging Kelvin, Iron gets his ass kicked by the police who are waiting outside the church as he leaves. This is where we find out there are 100’s of warrants out for his arrest. Iron ends up surviving after killing a few police officers and when he goes back to his boss to tell him what happened they are naturally upset at him for getting the police involved. That’s when they send Michael Iron on his last mission. Sweet Joey Petunia is sent along with Iron to settle a gambling debt and collect a million dollars. The deal goes sour when Sweet Joey tries to kill everyone in the joint (he thinks he kills everyone). Michael Iron ends up surviving along with the daughter of the man who owed the million dollars, Angel Chase. (she’s hot)

She ends up saving his life and getting him in contact with a doctor who helps Michael recover. In the fight with Sweet Joey he arm is blown off. The doctor Angel set him up with fits Michael with a cybernetic arm. Angel explains the situation to Iron and they form a bond in getting revenge on the Syndicate for the wrongs done to each other, respectively. The story which follows begins in #2 and goes through the end of the series. You will have to read and find out how things turn out.

The one cool story element I found is this book is the lack of romance between the two characters. We don't see them fondle each other or hop right in the sack, as a matter of fact there is no hint of sexual tension between the two them, which is refreshing.

The artwork in this comic is incredible to say the least. It’s not groundbreaking or something totally new, it’s just fucking great. I like Francis Manupul’s and Joel Gomez’s pencil work especially. The depth of some of the artwork is worth a second and third glance in most cases. They can do people, especially woman quite well. There was a slight swelling in my pants when I saw Angel Chase for the first time. I would say this is a borderline mature content comic book. Lots of blood and the idea of some skin with no actual nudity....dammit.

All in all I love this book. It’s a simple storyline in a genre more and more full of complicated stories that just don’t hold a candle to a good old fashioned “guns and blazin” tale. Don’t get me wrong I love the stories of Pax Romana, Black Summer and Doktor Sleepless, but lets face it, it takes some serious studying of the book to get everything out of it. I want to escape into a comic book, not feel like I am taking a college English course. Sometimes you just want to curl up with a good basic story and enjoy the world in which it sucks you into. If you are a fan of Dick Tracy and The Shadow then give this series a try. I hear rumors of the trade coming out soon, so you might want to wait for that.

Artwork – 4 ½ Nearly a 5 in my book. It’s fucking brilliant.
Storyline – 3 1/2 Not the deepest book in the world, but all books don’t need to be, and this doesn’t.


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