Okay, maybe you’re like me. I’ve seen Iron Man and I want more. Iron Man’s based on a comic book, so there’s bound to be tons of stories I can pick up. I’ve never read any Iron Man comics before, but if it’s anything like the movie, I think I’d like it.
First stop: Marvel.com
Marvel.com seems to have prepared for this scenario, as there are no less than 16 ads for Iron Man related products on their front page.
Let’s start with the first thing that caught my eye: Iron Man Eras , an article detailing the goings-on of Tony Stark just over the past 10 years (not counting the 40 before it). And to be honest, it’s overwhelming. All this talk of Skrulls and Registration Acts and Illuminati… why can’t I just find a story that’s just like the movie?
The answer: You can’t.
A great help is a bio of Iron Man & a list of “Required Reading: 10 Iron Man Collections” is a fantastic reference for newcomers. If you are ready to jump into the world of Tony Stark as he currently stands in comics (which is a very different place than he was in the movie) Marvel has the resources to prepare you.
After you make it through those 10 collections, you might be ready to take on the new series “Invincible Iron Man” (from writer, Matt Fraction), releasing this week with a first issue, or even the ongoing “Iron Man” series (currently at #18). Or you could check out a few new limited series coming soon: “Iron Man: Legacy of Doom” where apparently Iron Man fights Dr. Doom (?) or “Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas”, written by Jon Favreau and drawn by Avi Granov who helped design the Iron Man movie armor. There’s also Marvel Adventures: Iron Man (currently at #4) for younger readers and Ultimate Iron Man, which I think was a limited series and is now over (?).
(I will probably pick up the Favreau mini-series and the first issue of Invincible just to give them a chance as I’m a fan of both the authors. Maybe they’ll surprise me with their accessibility… but I’m not holding my breath.)
The point being, there is no one easy place to start. It’s a mess.
If I were Marvel, I would produce an original graphic novel to act as a “sequel” to the movie. I’d release it the same day the movie comes out. It would pick right up where the movie left off (while leaving room for the movie’s actual sequel, sure to come.) When I left the Iron Man movie, I wanted to know what was going to happen to THAT character, not a character with 40 years of history. And then, I’d follow up these OGN’s about once a quarter. Make them readily available in bookstores and market the hell out of them.
At the very least, there should be a very clear cut place to start for fans of the movie. Release a free (or very cheap) comic to comic book stores that fills you in on the history of Iron Man and tells you where to start (hopefully with a new #1.) Hell, even pass these free books out at movie theaters when people walk out, with a website to visit to find their local comic book store.
They need to create one very large button on their web page which reads “Liked the Iron Man movie, wanna read more? Start HERE.” Provide a link to where they should start with reading more Iron Man and where they can find that book.
There is so much potential to these comic book movies, but they are so bogged down by continuity that a new reader cannot easily jump on. Even if you could jump on easily, would you want to? The comic book Iron Man looks so different from the movie version.
With movies like 300 or Sin City, you see huge jumps in sales of the respective comics. With X-Men, Spiderman, Batman, not so much. And it’s because there is no one story you can pick up.
These comic book publishers need to WAKE UP and realize that there is a huge massive audience out there a hundred times the size of who they are spending all their time and effort catering to right now. The millions of people who saw and loved Iron Man this weekend is who they need to be aiming their marketing at. Those people need to realize that comics are as cool and smart and funny and entertaining as the movies. But it will never happen if they keep being so inaccessible.