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Iron Man 2 by Alexander Irvine
Review by Drew Bittner
Grand Central Publishing Mass Market Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780446564588
Date: 01 April 2010 List Price $7.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Tony Stark's life has changed dramatically since uttering four fateful words to the public and press. "I am Iron Man" has changed everything -- and not all for the better. Grappling with unexpected health problems and turning to alcohol to unwind, Tony's world is beginning to come apart... but for Russian inventor/criminal Ivan Vanko, that might not be happening fast enough.

In Iron Man 2, Alexander Irvine novelizes the story by screenwriter Justin Theroux, pre-dating the release of the blockbuster movie sequel by only three weeks. It's a great story and a very good adaptation.

Tony Stark is somewhat adrift. His health is deteriorating and his massive genius cannot find a way to halt (much less reverse) the damage; he has literally weeks left to live. He's also been pushing himself as Iron Man, helping out wherever he can, but that isn't enough for the US government: they want the Iron Man suit, and they want it now.

This is causing friction with his old friend Col. James "Rhodey" Rhodes and Pepper Potts. Although he tries to solve his problems cleverly, Stark outsmarts himself and sees both relationships collapse, especially once Rhodey steals the Mark II armor and rebuilds it as War Machine.

Those problems might be enough, but no--a Russian named Ivan Vanko is after Tony's legacy and life. Vanko's father worked with Tony's father on arc reactor technology, the power source that keeps Tony alive and powers the Iron Man armor. Vanko, though a tattooed thug on the outside, is brilliant and able to replicate Stark's achievement; he is also able to devise plasma-wrapped whips capable of slicing even through Tony's new Mark VI armor.

After a cataclysmic "debut" at a racetrack in Monaco, Vanko ends up working with an enemy of Tony's on a weapon technology that could make Iron Man obsolete. If Vanko has his way, it'll make Tony Stark obsolete as well. Even with help from Nick Fury of SHIELD and a "black widow" super-agent named Natasha Romanoff, this may be more than even Iron Man can handle.

Irvine delivers the spirit of the movie, capturing the witty banter between protagonists (it's possible easily to envision Downey, Cheadle and Paltrow saying these words) as well as the high octane action of an armored superhero battling near-impossible odds. The action and characterization go hand-in-hand and the result is a fast paced, enjoyable read that will utterly spoil every secret this movie has to offer. (Except, perhaps, the rumored "Easter egg" at the end--who knows what that might be?)

If you want the story a bit further fleshed out, and enjoy reading these adventures as well as watching them--or even if you just want good superhero storytelling--you'll like reading Iron Man 2.

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