Friday, 6 November 2009

‘Iron Man: Femmes Fatales’ – Robert Greenberger (Del Rey)

Well, the plan was to finish reading ‘Finch’ last night and post a review this morning; that didn’t happen! Not only didn’t I have much time for reading last night but ‘Finch’ is fast becoming one of those books that I really want to take my time over and not rush. It’s good, look out for a review hopefully sometime next week.
In the meantime, I finished reading Robert Greenberger’s ‘Iron Man’ novel a couple of days ago so figured that now was a good time for it to step up to the plate and get its review...

Before I really started collecting comics in earnest, while I was at college, my two favourite books were Roger Stern’s ‘The Death and Life of Superman’ and Dennis O’Neil’s ‘Batman: Knightfall’. These novelizations of two major DC events were a great way for me to get straight into the thick of things without my having to spend loads of money on either the trades or individual comics (and they were great stories as well!) These days are more about collecting comics for me but I’ve still got a soft spot for the tie-in novels so when ‘Femmes Fatales’ came through the door I know I’d be giving it a go. I’ve been meaning to give ‘Iron Man’ a go since watching the film but had no real idea where to start; not only did this book give me a starting point but it wasn’t a bad read either...

Millionaire industrialist Tony Stark is taking his company in a new direction, away from the lucrative arms trade that made its name. Stark is also trying to keep the secrets of his ‘Iron Man’ suit out of the hands of anti-terror organisation S.H.I.E.L.D but still feels that he must help S.H.I.E.L.D in their fight against the terrorist group known as HYDRA. New York is in imminent danger of an attack from HYDRA cells, intent on using Stark Enterprises munitions to further their aims, and only Tony Stark (as Iron Man) and S.H.I.E.L.D have any chance of stopping them. A critical weakness in Stark’s personality has been found though and two beautiful women are out to exploit it for all it’s worth. Can Stark or the city survive the results?

Having never read any ‘Iron Man’ before, I was interested to see how easy it would be to just jump straight in without any previous knowledge of the character. It turned out that I had more background information floating around in my head than I thought; I’ve read a few Marvel comics in my time (and browsed Wikipedia) and it all seemed to complement what I was reading. As far as the story itself goes, things are fairly well self-contained (with the book giving you just as much background information as is needed to appreciate the plot) and I’d say that if you’ve only seen the ‘Iron Man’ movie then that’s all you need to enjoy this book.

The plot itself isn’t massively demanding but it’s fast moving and a great way to while away a few hours with plenty of explosions, double crosses, chases and high powered confrontations. I say ‘high powered’ because none of the characters are super powered and it was nice to see a side of the Marvel Universe that wasn’t focused on well nigh invulnerable super heroes or mutants. What you get instead is the murkier world of espionage and counter espionage where nothing is quite as it seems... Having said that, things are signposted a little too clearly for the reader to be caught out by any twists and turns. Where the fun lies is in watching Tony Stark (and others) try and work their way round, or through, these problems as they arise.

Stark may be Iron Man but, at the same time, he’s all too human whether he’s in or out of the suit and this lends us a fresh perspective into his character. Whether he’s on a mission or just battling it out in the boardroom, Stark is a man who’s having to get used to major changes in his life and the resulting moments of indecision add interesting new directions to the storyline as well as his character. It’s also good to be right there at the start of the development of S.H.I.E.L.D as an organisation and see the circumstances that lead to its creation. Things like this tend to get lost in the immense backlog of Marvel continuity as far as I go (I know it’s there but not why...) so it was good to get a feel for this aspect of the background history.

‘Femmes Fatales’ isn’t high literature but not only did it entertain the hell out of me but it’s also got me thinking about searching out more ‘Iron Man’ stuff to get into. If that was its job then it’s a job well done! Fans of ‘Iron Man’ should love ‘Femmes Fatales’ and it’s also a good entry point for newcomers to check things out.

Eight and a Half out of Ten


SQT said...

Glad to hear "Fitch" is good. I'm expecting a copy to arrive soon.

RKCharron said...

Hi Graeme!
Thank you for the great review.
All the best,