Author Matt Fraction, Illustrations Salvador Larroca
This is the spoiler full review of the first 19 issues of Matt Fraction’s run on The Invincible Iron Man. If you would prefer to stay spoiler free but still want to see how Matt Fraction can take any character and make them epic please visit here.
A lot happens in these 19 issues. A LOT!
I want to preface with that the only other Iron Man books I’ve read were in the Civil War canon. I’m not super familiar with him outside of that and the movies. I know some things about him but it’s been interesting to dive deeper into his character. However, there were a couple of times when I was confused or felt a little left out at mentions to things in his past.
This run starts with a bad guy named Stane. Stane deals in biological weapons and has made an iron man suit that he is supplying to suicide bombers. He figured out how to make the same technology but cheap enough to basically be disposable.
He’s also used the technology to amp up his own biomechanics and give himself ridiculous energy powers. He’s evil, he’s powerful, he’s scary.
He’s selling the suits to the highest bidders with complete disregard to the chaos that he’s causing. In fact, he’s encouraging it, and his main target is Tony Stark, Iron Man.
Before Stark is aware this is going on he’s off in New York doing the billionaire thing. A lot of this run deals with his relationship with Pepper Potts and we see them getting ready together for a big event.
I do not know what their relationship is supposed to be at this point. They have a flirtation but it seems more like inappropriate boss/ subordinate dialogue.
So they’re not really in a relationship but maybe they’re working towards it?
Well shortly after this flirtation Stark insensitively demands Potts provide some other women he’s flirting with some champagne and this enrages her enough to storm out.
Right after she makes it out of the building Stane blows it up.
Potts definitely would have died had Stark not been such a jack-ass. Stark doesn’t die because a gut feeling prompted him to put on the Iron Man suit. His first priority is to find and rescue Potts.
Potts was very injured and the only way to save her was for Stark to hook her up to his biomechanic technology.
She does not like this at first. She likes being alive but she doesn’t want to be a weapon. Stark convinces her that her particular tech is not for a weapon it will only make her stronger and more useful in every way.
She begins to appreciate her new gift and starts to move toward her own superhero mentality.
Stane still wants Stark dead so he puts Iron Man tech on the black market to lure him in as bait. It works and Stane shows up in his own suit to kill the crap out of Iron Man.
Of course, it’s an empty suit. Stark engages a huge electromagnetic pulse to shut down all Stark technologies including his own electronics but mostly to deactivate the suicide bombers worldwide. It succeeds in killing the suicide bombers with no other casualties.
Stane is arrested and Stark sets out to recoup his losses.
So Stark used to run S.H.I.E.L.D. and due to some politics we don’t see in this book S.H.I.E.L.D. is now HAMMER and is now run by Norman Osborn. He’s a bad guy. You may know him as Green Goblin from Spiderman.
Osborn wants access to the superhero database. This is post registration act, he wants the ones who have been still wearing masks.
Stark keeps this database loaded in only one place, his own mind.
Stark tricks SHIELD agent Maria Hill into helping him slowly destroy pieces of his brain to delete the database. She doesn’t like this but she hates working for HAMMER more so she ends up on board.
With Stark busy slipping himself into brain death Potts is the new CEO of the company which is also now slipping into financial ruin. But she also has her own Iron Man suit and is getting some adrenaline rushes by rescuing those in need without using it as a weapon of destruction.
Osborn calls for Stark’s arrest on some pretty serious charges. Stark and Hill are on the run together so naturally they sleep together. Um… seriously, what up with Potts? Stark is kind of a jerk.
Osborne shoots down a plane full of innocent people just to test out Potts’ capabilities, she saves them but then gets arrested for being an unregistered super hero.
Namor goes after the bounty on Stark.
And Hill gets brainwashed by the Controller.
As I said, a lot happens in this book. It’s sometimes overwhelming.
Hill breaks the Controller’s power and finds the drive that she was sent after by Stark. Potts is released because her suit doesn’t have any weapons.
Potts goes to save Stark who is now targeted by Madam Masque.
Hill gets in touch with Black Widow, and not subtly.
Black Widow reluctantly agrees to help Hill with the mission.
Over in Russia Stark and Potts have sex. I hate this, what are they?!
So Stark is rapidly diminishing in brain power and Masque kidnaps and tortures Potts. Apparently Masque and Stark have a history together as well and I am unfamiliar with it. Masque wants him to love her, Potts is jealous.
Stark chooses Potts over Masque so Masque blows the whole place up. Potts’ suit saves them all.
I really need them to define their relationship, too much emotional turmoil going on and I just feel jerked around.
The hardest part about reading comic books is that you always feel like you’re missing something.
Potts disguises herself as Masque to avoid being captured again and joins up with Hill and Black Widow to complete the mission. Stark can no longer pilot advanced suits so he’s downgraded quite a bit, enough to get shot down.
He makes his way to his original suit, the only suit left he can operate with his diminished brain power. Osborne finds him at the suit and beats him half to death.
It’s broadcast live to the world and everyone sees Osborne beat up a near braindead Stark who can’t even fight back.
Osborne puts him in a vegetative state and this arc concludes with him in the hospital completely powerless.
I have some issues with the relationships and the hectic pacing of this book. It made it a little hard to follow at times.
But I like the overall themes and it makes Iron Man more interesting than I’ve seen him before. Iron Man’s power is that he’s ultra intelligent. We can see him lose the suit all day long and that’s never going to be impactful.
To see Stark really struggle by losing his actual super power is what makes this run compelling. Fraction does what he does best by finding the one thing to focus on with a character that makes them have more depth than they ever had been before.
I will continue reading this run and I hope to continue to see some emotional struggles as well as some solid girl power with the trio of Maria Hill, Black Widow, and Pepper Potts.
4/5 smart guys 👨🎓👨🎓👨🎓👨🎓
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