Marvel Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer
|Marvel Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer|
|Category: Confident Readers|
|Reviewer: John Lloyd|
|Summary: Sections of this do go on too long, but that may be the comics fan side of me saying that – certainly this opening out of the Marvel character into long-form format has a lot going for it; provided you haven't taken against the hero already.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 304||Date: October 2016|
|External links: Author's website|
No superhero story is really complete without a lesson of some kind, and this adventure starts with one too. Tony Stark – a young, teenaged fan of Duran Duran Tony Stark – is taking his latest home invention to his father. It's a perfect drone, able to do no manner of humanitarian things, but the lesson from Howard Stark, the weapons developer and seller, is that toys like that don't help the security of the world. From now on, Tony will be building things that are definitely not cutesy, or do-goody. But, while the gamut of Iron Man suits he has developed since then allow him to have a playful playboy figure in the limelight, especially courtesy of his party DJ variant, the threats continue to rise. And this one seems to come from within…
From the get-go this sounds like a perfect marriage of Eoin Colfer story-telling nous and Marvel lore. The narrative style is gently quippy, with a perfect way to engage with the young. Certainly comparing this to a couple other books in the 2016 crop of Marvel novels it's a whole lot fresher. Too fresh, perhaps, for Tony to be a perfectly realistic, intelligent adult – yes, you can expect jokes about Tony's use of a new verb, Riverdancing, but would he think of his boss as grandstand-y when he thumps his desk? You're reminded of how Colfer mostly sticks to the world and point of view of genius youths, not genius adults.
Still what he has always been responsible for is high-energy, big action books. And this hits the mark – to a point. Yes, it's probably impossible to do more than the comics, in the way typical franchise books will try and do more than, say, a TV budget will allow, but I did think some of the locations and scenes palled a little, dragging on for just a bit too long. Certainly the time it takes for the exposition to get in the way of Tony putting on the disco biscuit suit made that a little boring.
And what Colfer has always done so well is imbue his books with a distinct Gaelic flavour. Tony realised that Ireland was quite different from other countries…, we read here, and Colfer is determined to make that a positive. We start with the AI in one of the latest Iron Man suits turning herself into an Irish Colleen, and it goes on from there. This distinctive flavour certainly is to the book's credit, for without it things might have really hit the so-so button too often. But while that character is allowed to make the book stand out from the comics, you get the regular Marvel nous, too – the references to situations and characters from elsewhere in their repertoire, the authentic Marvel voice coming through against the Irish brogue.
I think as a result both sides win here. Colfer certainly was never going to turn in a writer-for-hire hack piece, and he doesn't disappoint, as the result is almost as lively as his best. And Marvel have a great coup to show off their novels range, for what we get is authentically in their universe. If anyone loses, it's Tony Stark himself, as you realise he's really not that brilliantly funny long before you've finished spending this amount of time in his head/helmet. If you can abide a sustained spell in his company you should be on board with this book. It's the equivalent of one of those left-field choices Marvel's films department did regarding choice of directors, in that it's a combination nobody would have rightly bet on expecting, but you can't exactly complain about the result. Just a little trimming would allow the sparkly and witty gem to come out of these pages.
I must thank the publishers for my review copy.
The Ministry of Suits by Paul Gamble has suits in as well – but what's more, a sense of humour to even outstrip Colfer's.
You can read more book reviews or buy Marvel Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Marvel Iron Man: The Gauntlet by Eoin Colfer at Amazon.com.
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