The World According to Iron Man by Larry Hama & Marc Sumerak, and Illustrated by Mirco Pierfederici
Like the rest of Insight Editions’ “The World According To…” series, The World According to Iron Man is primarily an introductory overview, something like an “Iron Man 101”, but one that’s laced with things to appeal to the more ardent fans. This dichotomous approach has been a bit hit-¬and-¬miss in other books in the series I’ve read, but The World According to Iron Man gets that balance spot on, making it a book worth a look for anyone with any level of interest in the genius, billionaire, playboy, and philanthropist that is Tony Stark (aka Iron Man).
Written from Stark’s perspective, The World According to Iron Man touches on a broad range of different aspects of Iron Man and associated lore. There’s an origin story, a rundown of some of the various Iron Man designs that Stark’s created over the years, and an introduction to some of his allies and enemies. But this is a book that’s as much about the man inside the armour, looking at Stark’s public life as the CEO of a multi¬billion dollar company and, more importantly, the kind of person he is underneath all of that.
Like the rest of the series, the breadth of information covered comes at the cost of depth. Fans of Stark won’t find much here that they didn’t already know, and newcomers will get an interesting, but brief outline of Iron Man.
This is par for the course with books like these, but The World According to Iron Man sets itself apart with the quality of its writing. The fact that it’s written in first ¬person helps to show Tony Stark as a charismatic individual, and the writing style perfectly captures his rogueish charm and braggadocio perfectly. That alone makes this a book that’s worth reading, even if it’s not telling you anything you didn’t already know.
But Larry Hama and Marc Sumerak have gone one further. Stark is a complex character with plenty going on beneath the surface; he’s not just Iron Man and Tony Stark, CEO of Stark Industries, he’s a man with a deep¬seated philosophical outlook on life and a dedication to the betterment of the world. While certain parts of the book deal with this part of Stark directly, there’s an undercurrent of this theme throughout that ties everything together and gives it a sense of fluidity. To compare it to film, there are documentaries that simply tell you about the life and exploits of whoever’s the subject, and then there are those that focus on finding meaning within all that and imparting something other than knowledge upon the audience. The World According to Iron Man certainly leans more towards the latter.
This may make it sound like a heavy and serious affair, but it really isn’t; like the Iron Man comics themselves, the deep stuff is subtext to something that’s lighthearted and fun. This never comes through better than with the “special features” dotted throughout. A Tony Stark business card inviting people to contact “him” at any time, but has Pepper Potts’ email address instead of his own. An emergency procedures card from his private jet depicts a chair turning into an Iron Man suit and flying to safety. A set of blueprints is covered in notes for future upgrades, like “Reprogram J.A.R.V.I.S. [the Iron Man suits artificial intelligence] to agree with me more often”.
The only let down with The World According to Iron Man, really, is the artwork. It’s not bad, but it’s nothing to write home about, either. It was the writing that carried me through, with illustrations that were just there, offering little to add to the experience. Other books in the series (The World According to Thor, specifically) have had great art, which makes Iron Man’s lack in that department a bit disappointing.
Still, everything else about The World According to Iron Man is so good that even with art that’s wanting, it’s a great book that deserves a spot on the shelf for anyone interested in Tony Stark. There’s plenty here for Iron Man fans both old and new to enjoy.
REVIEWER: Matthew Codd
TITLE: The World According to Iron Man
AUTHOR(S): Larry Hama, Marc Sumerak
ILLUSTRATOR: Mirco Pierfederici