Tony Stark arrives in Japan to help implement his goal of world peace by building the Arc Reactor, a carbon-neutral power plant that, once operational, will be able to provide limitless (thus free) energy to the world. Set to retire his Iron Man persona, and about to mass-produce a line of Iron Man armor known as “Iron Man Dio”, Stark’s plans are derailed by a series of high tech Mech monsters. Zodiac, a top secret organization funded by the terrorist group A.I.M. is out to disrupt the Arc Station, steal the Dio armor and put an end to Iron Man. The Armored Avenger’s fight is only just beginning.
Marvel Anime: Iron Man is an appealing episodic reboot of the venerable Marvel Comics franchise, and part of a wider anime collaboration between Marvel Entertainment and the popular Japanese animation studio Madhouse. The live-action Iron Man features serve as the launching point for this 12-episode series, which finds Tony Stark (voiced by Heroes' Adrian Pasdar in the English-language dub) in Japan, constructing an Arc Reactor station that will provide limitless worldwide energy, as well as a new prototype armor, Iron Man Dio, which will allow him to gracefully exit the superhero business. Both plans turn sour with the arrival of the Zodiac terrorist organization, which commandeers both the Dio suit and the station for its world-domination plans. In his pursuit of Zodiac, Stark is pitted against the group's giant robot warriors, as well as a long-lost figure from his own past. Rendered in the bold and often striking animation by which Madhouse has earned its reputation, Marvel Anime: Iron Man is also action packed throughout its 12 episodes, and hews closely to its comic legacy thanks to writer Warren Ellis, who weaves appearances by established figures from its canon like Pepper Potts, Chika Tanaka, and even Wolverine (voiced by Pasdar's Heroes costar Milo Ventimiglia, who reprises the role for the Wolverine anime series) into the story. If there's any complaint to be had, it's the relative facelessness of the Zodiac, which pale in regard to nefariousness when compared to such veteran Iron Man villains as Ghost, Whiplash, or the Mandarin. Otherwise, Marvel Anime: Iron Man is a visually exciting, fast-paced, and welcome addition to the Iron Man universe. The two-disc set includes both the English dub and original Japanese audio track (with English subtitles), as well as a smattering of making-of featurettes, including interviews with the animation team and Japanese cast. --Paul Gaita