by Drew Baumgartner
This article contains SPOILERS. If you haven’t read the issue yet, proceed at your own risk!
Does Stark not get HBO? Everyone knows that if you make a virtual wild west chances are the NPCs will start killing off everybody.
Jacosta, Tony Stark: Iron Man 3
It’s no coincidence that Dan Slott all-but name checks Westworld in Tony Stark: Iron Man 3, as the issue is all about our ability to distinguish humans from robots. Westworld relishes surprising us at every turn — often with the reveal that someone was or wasn’t a robot all along, but sometimes with the very fact that he world we’re seeing is or isn’t what we think it is. This issue leans into the game of “spot the robot” (with its own Westworld-ian twist), but plays things very straight with the division between reality and fantasy, relying on some smart decisions by artist Valerio Schiti and colorists Edgar Delgado and Rachelle Rosenberg.
The issue kicks off with a cold open set in the real world, which the setting text tells us in no uncertain terms.
The visual grammar here is popular enough to feel unremarkable — brushed linework, modern coloring, and some zip-a-tone accents. But it shifts dramatically as the setting shifts to Stark’s virtual reality, the Great eScape. Even as we maintain the distinctive POV shot of this opening sequence, we recognize we’re in another world:
Note how the day-glo colors and color holds (linework in colors other than black) immediately distinguishes the Great eScape from the real world. The rules of the visual languages of these two worlds are crystal clear and inviolate — where these events are taking place isn’t ever going to be a question.
Curiously, the hands of our perspective character maintain the real-world rendering with full-black linework, more realistic coloring, and zip-a-tone textures. It’s a subtle move, but one that reinforces the idea that our perspective character is “real” — that is, a human. All of which gets shaken up when we discover that those hands actually belong to Jacosta Pym. She may not be human, but she’s decidedly real, anchoring our experience of the Great eScape with, as she later puts it, soul. That’s a clever twist that leaned on input from every member of the creative team to carry off, and it works beautifully.
The conversation doesn’t stop there. What do you wanna talk about from this issue?