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Book Review

Book Cover

Iron Man


Author: Alex Irvine
Titan Books
RRP: £6.99, US $9.50
ISBN: 978 1 8457 6919 2
Available 22 January 2010

Following a life threatening incident, billionaire industrialist Tony Stark created, through combat armour, his alter ego, Iron Man. When two commercial jets crash midair it only confirms Stark's conviction that he has to carry on developing the new Iron Man suit, little realising that the crash was arranged by Arnim Zola, in a bid to assassinate Madame Hydra and take control of the criminal organisation. Zola attacks Stark by remotely controlling his new armour before unleashing an army of clones, cloned from one of Stark's close friends against S.H.E.I.L.D.S headquarters. This is but the opening gambit which will see Zola and Stark fighting in the city and in cyberspace...

Iron Man: Virus (2010) is a new novel from respected writer Alex Irvine. Irvine has written a dark book, taking Tony Stark further away from his womanising, alcoholic persona plunging him into a period of doubt and introspection which borders on obsessive social phobia. Tony wants control, a level of control which would mean he would no longer have to deal with other people. His hermetic wish, however, is not only worrying his friends, it worries the government who rely on Stark Industries for innovative new weapons. Even if he can avoid these, he cannot avoid Zola, who has recently taken control of Hydra and has the destruction of Iron Man as part of his plan.

I was surprised by Virus on a number of levels; normally these types of genre books are little more that fan fodder, unlikely to appeal to those not already acquainted with the franchise. So the choice of Zola as the main villain was par for the course, after all fans would accept an individual with a box for a head and a television in his stomach, after all this is the sort of fantasy which is acceptable in the visual medium of comic books, it’s a harder thing to pull off in a novel. Surprisingly, Irvine is able to turn this improbable villain into an effective foil for Iron Man.

Tony Stark is a harder depiction to swallow, given his depiction in films, books and comics. I think this is a dark version of Stark we haven’t seen since he had to deal with his alcoholism and for those who only know the character from the films; this may be a Stark that many will find difficult to believe in.

Irvine is an author of a great deal more than Iron Man and has obviously approached the book as just another novel. The well written story has a density of plot and characterisation not normally found, there is also a playful use of structure with each chapter preceded with either patent applications for new technology, which has the combined effect of pleasing tech heads and allowing the novice reader an insight into what makes the suit work.

Overall, the book should appeal to fans and non fans alike, notwithstanding the problematic dark version of Stark for fans of just the movies.


Charles Packer

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