Sunday, October 17, 2010

High-tech avenging with teen ‘Iron Man’

(Published Oct. 14, PDI-Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

Genius inventor and weapons designer Tony Stark gets animated in the sleek “Iron Man: Armored Adventures,” but it’s not the partying playboy from the comic books and live-action movies. This Tony Stark is mostly a no-nonsense teen, surrounded by other younger versions of familiar figures from Marvel mythology.

As with previous incarnations, young Tony Stark is dependent on life-preserving technology, but in this iteration, that’s after surviving a plane crash that took his father’s life. Donning a battlesuit he designed, Tony fights crime as Iron Man and gets introduced to a number of costumed villains. He also tries to acclimate to his new life as a high school student.

Similarly adjusted to fit this new take are supporting characters James “Rhodey” Rhodes and Pepper Potts. Rhodey is his best friend here, now a tech-savvy kid assisting Tony in combat or rescue missions by relaying crucial information from their secret mini-base. Pepper Potts is now an insufferable motormouth, but she’s not entirely annoying; she’s actually brave and independent. And, unknown to the gang, the new rich classmate Gene Khan is the Mandarin, one of Iron Man’s most formidable foes.

This new “Iron Man” balances straightforward hero-versus-villain scenarios with relatable and even humorous school situations. Tony, despite his brilliance and resources, is awkward at social interactions. It’s not the suave, womanizing Tony Stark at all, at least not yet. Still, he’s already adept at fighting super-villains, and is comfortable with the role of protector.

Animation-wise, the clean, vivid style allows intricate and kinetic battle scenes. As for the different armors worn by Iron Man’s enemies, most are impressive and updated versions. However, despite its aptly hulking presence, the Crimson Dynamo should have predominantly sported the color red instead of white. And speaking of designs, the kid characters wear the same casual clothes to school every day (an animation shortcut), which gets distracting. They look okay, but perhaps some tweaking of the color schemes and details can add variety.

Imperfections aside, the first season is often engaging. “Iron Man” is tightly plotted and very contemporary, and a good re-imagining of the armored Avenger and his high-tech exploits.

“Iron Man: Armored Adventures” Season 1 episodes can be viewed on

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