08 May 2017

Catching Up On Comics: The Invincible Iron Man Part One

Over the past couple of years, I've fallen way behind on my reading. I'm working to correct that as I start focusing on conquering my to-read pile. 

The Invincible Iron Man: #1 -19:
The Five Nightmares, World's Most Wanted
I've had the first three trades of the Invincible Iron Man series sitting on my shelf for a couple of years now. Even had them signed by Matt Fraction. I thought it was about damn time I tackled them and so far, it's been a hell of a treat. Published as a response to the success of the original Iron Man film in 2008, the book embraces the tone that Robert Downey Jr. brought to the role while also adding a new flavor to the comics character. Along the way, it also tackles duel threats that have emerged to plague us in the 21st century: terrorism and fascism.

Before discussing the story, I have to talk about the art. Salvador Larroca is not necessarily the artist I gravitate to though his work with Kieron Gillen on Darth Vader is some top notch stuff. That said, his earlier work with the Iron Man series has been rough. There are some Greg Land-ish tendencies to rely on photo reference and PS filters. The shortcuts he takes can occasionally take you out of the story. One example was the use of a picture of a Little Rock news van used in a NYC setting. This tends to improve in the second and third arc but still occasionally rears its ugly head. That said, the story is strong enough to carry this issue with art on its back.

Fraction finds a way to exploit the character's new popularity on film while still embracing both Marvel's publishing history and the global world that is. Tony Stark is in position as the Director of SHIELD after the Civil War event. Maria Stark serves as his second in command while Pepper Potts is in the process of assuming responsibilities of Stark Enterprises. None of the three foresee the threat of Obadiah Stane's son Ezekiel launching terror attacks against Stark in a long-coming revenge against his dad's rival. Zeke is Mark Zuckerberg meets Al-Qaeda. A hoodie-wearing millennial capable of turning himself and others into living bombs while living it up along the way sharing drinks with his girlfriend.
Tony Stark has both the charm and dickishness that has come to define Robert Downey Jr's take while also the daily struggle of carrying the world on your shoulders. Fraction brings his history with addiction to the character that further fleshes him out. Is this the day he cracks? Is this the day his sobriety breaks? Stark is constantly pushed to the edge and is hit with failure after failure while still being able to predict the worst case scenarios and plan accordingly. After Zeke Stane's attacks and the Secret Invasion event results in Norman Osborn being placed in charge of what's left of SHIELD, Stark hits his lowest point since "Demon In A Bottle".

Norman Osborn essentially being in charge of the world's most powerful arsenal and ranting in front of cameras about the "failing" Stark Enterprises hits close to home being read in 2017. The world is gone to shit and the heroes stumble through it questioning how it could ever have gotten this bad.

Halfway through this nearly year long arc, I ordered the next collection. The story is that damn good.