Iron Man: Legacy of Doom

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(WoW FEB 08)

by Roger Ash

In the 1980's two men helped to bring Iron Man back to the forefront of the Marvel Universe, writer David Michelinie and artist/inker Bob Layton. Their work with the Armored Avenger is considered by many to be the definitive version of the character. Now, they, along with artist Ron Lim, return with Iron Man: Legacy of Doom, the third part of their Camelot Trilogy. Is this a story they've wanted to tell for a while?

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"Yes, in more ways than one," says David Michelinie. "I don't think we (Bob Layton and I) specifically had a trilogy in mind when we concocted the first Iron Man In Camelot storyline back in 1981. But after doing the sequel during our second run on the book (1989), we felt there was more story to be told, and that a concluding chapter would be in order. So, after creating the Iron Man: Bad Blood mini-series for Marvel in 2000, we worked out a plot for Part 3 and submitted it to the Iron Man office. Unfortunately, the editor we were working with resigned at about that time and the project never got off the ground, which was disappointing. But then the Iron Man movie happened which got Marvel looking for new Iron Man projects and we were fortunate enough to have Legacy Of Doom get a second chance."

After the proposal was approved by editor Tom Brevort, according to Bob Layton, "we had to sit down and come up with a more detailed break down of each individual chapter of the four part mini-series. We also had to contend with the passage of time and figure out exactly how to do the story we originally came up with in context to the current version of Iron Man."

When working on stories, Michelinie says that "Bob and I have co-plotted pretty much every Iron Man story we've done together. Sometimes it's 60-40 one way, sometimes 60-40 the other. But it works out to a pretty even 50-50 collaboration over time. So we both get equal blame - er, I mean, credit."

 height=The other member of the creative team is penciller Ron Lim, and Layton is enjoying their collaboration. "Ron Lim is perhaps my favorite penciller to work with in comics. Not only is he highly-professional and extremely talented, but he is also one of the nicest human beings you will ever want to meet. Ron and I worked together at my previous company, Future Comics, on a series called Metallix. It was during that time that he and I began to realize that our styles were highly compatible and our philosophies toward drawing were very similar. I think that he's doing the best work of his career on Iron Man: Legacy of Doom. Each batch of pages that come to me seem to be a little better than the last, and he's totally captured the feel of that particular era of Iron Man that David and I are known for."

After this set up, what is the series about and is it set in current continuity? "We made the conscious decision to handle this story as a sort of 'forgotten episode,'" replies Michelinie. "It starts out in current continuity and then Tony Stark finds out that something has been erased from his memory. As the mental blocks fall, he remembers the incidents that make up the bulk of the story. We did this so that the third part of the trilogy would better match the first two, both visually and in tone. The current Tony Stark behaves very differently from the character we handled years ago, his situation is different and his supporting cast has changed. Visually, his armor is totally different as well. We thought this might be annoying or jarring to readers who had read the first two parts, and could be confusing to new readers who would first come to the story via an eventual collection of all three parts. So we decided that the best solution would be to construct the story as a sort of flashback bookended by an introduction and epilogue set in current continuity.

"As for the story itself, it involves Doctor Doom recruiting Iron Man to help stave off a plan by Mephisto to bring about The End Of Days. But there's a multi-layered agenda at work behind the scenes, involving Excalibur and the Excalibur scabbard, and the final, rather horrific twist isn't revealed until the final issue of the mini-series."

Since Iron Man: Legacy of Doom features two armored characters, Iron Man and Doctor Doom, does Layton take different artistic approaches when dealing with these two different suits of armor? "Absolutely! Doom's armor is more of a brushed metal, while Iron Man is highly reflective. Also, in the course of the story, both characters will receive new suits of armor in context to the tale. Iron Man's is particular elaborate, since it's mystical in origin. Ron and I worked very hard together to come up with a design that would be unique and eye-catching."

 height=Both creators are enjoying their return to Iron Man. "It's almost spooky," says Layton. "There are days that I get up and go to the drawing board and it's as if I've traveled back in time. Ron's work is so close to what we were doing during that era that I feel that we're creating this project in some sort of time-warp. My affinity for this character has never diminished over the years. As long as there is an Iron Man project for David Michelinie and me to do, I'll be there with brush in hand!"

"I'm enjoying working again, period!" adds Michelinie. "But, yeah, writing Tony Stark - at least the version I'm familiar with from The Good Ol' Days - is like slipping into a pair of comfortable shoes. It just sort of makes you sit back and grin and say, 'Yup.'"

If you like what you see in Iron Man: Legacy of Doom, there's other work on the way from both Michelinie and Layton. "I've been working on a graphic novel for Moonstone Books featuring a couple of their pulp characters, The Avenger and The Spider," says Michelinie. "But I was just told yesterday to put the script on hold due to some sort of legal question with one of the licensors. So that's kind of in limbo, but I hope things can be worked out and the book will see print later this year."

"I run a monthly website that is particularly devoted to my past and current projects," says Layton. "I also create a monthly web-comic with penciller Dick Giordano called Colony. As far as Iron Man goes, after we finish Legacy of Doom, I'll be turning my attention to Iron Man: The End. Although I don't have a firm date on that, I imagine it's going to be released sometime shortly after the Iron Man film debut. I've been working on a series of chase cards for a Iron Man movie collector set. I'm also returning to Valiant on a special project, a brand new X-O Manowar story for the hardcover trade."

In conclusion, Michelinie has this to say about Legacy of Doom. "I hope longtime readers will be satisfied with this concluding chapter, and that new readers will enjoy it enough to dig out the first two parts and read them as well. Comics should be fun, and if fans have fun reading these stories, then life is good for us all."