Iron Man

Rescue 1 (July 2010)

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So in this issue of Rescue—oh, wait, no, it’s the only issue of Rescue, which is a travesty (if that description doesn’t give you an idea of the book in advance…)—is set during an Invincible Iron Man arc where Pepper hallucinates talking to her dead husband.

Her dead husband is, for those who don’t follow Iron Man (like me), Happy Hogan. The limo driver from the movies.

Anyway, Pepper recounts this incident where she saved some people and didn’t save some people. DeConnick doesn’t reinvent the wheel here—Pepper the superhero has always been Invincible’s greatest creation, just because of the way Pepper approaches her altruistic activities.

But what DeConnick does do is put together a compelling story and gives Pepper a great voice.

Andrea Mutti’s art is a little rough, but the writing makes up for it.

I wish it was a series, not a one-shot.

CREDITS

Writer, Kelly Sue DeConnick; artist, Andrea Mutti; colorist, Jose Villarrubia; letterer, Clayton Cowles; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

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The Invincible Iron Man 500.1 (April 2011)

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I think I like Larocca’s art this issue than any one in the past. It’s literally a talking head (no one has dialogue except Tony), but Larocca does flashbacks and in these flashbacks, he relies a little less on the flash and just draws.

The issue is a retelling up to now of Tony’s life, except it only makes sense if one’s been reading Invincible Iron Man. Fraction keeps it vague because it’s Tony at an AA meeting. Being Tony is probably one of the most famous people in the world, it’s hard to think he could be anonymous.

That problem shows… Fraction never treats Tony as special, just as a (smart) guy talking.

The writing is all very solid, very professional….

Until the end, when Fraction makes a terrible choice.

He finally has Tony talk with Pepper about their relationship; she’s not even on panel. The scene fails miserably.

CREDITS

What it was like, what happened and what it’s like now; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larocca; colorist, Frank D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 500 (March 2011)

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Fraction sets up this issue in two parts–first the present, with Tony tracking down Peter Parker to talk about some designs Tony forgot about, and second the future. In the future, Tony’s kid is fighting the Mandarin, who has taken over the world thanks to Tony’s technology.

Fraction plays the future as full action. There’s no time for a break–and he’s got two artists on it, Kano on some, Fox on the rest. Fox gets the most destruction, probably because his scenes of mass destruction look great.

The present material, with Spidey showing up eventually, is played straight, but with some humor.

Fraction needs to do a Tony and Peter series.

What’s so nice about how the issue works is how it embraces a lot of what Fraction’s done already, but doesn’t tie him down. The future’s not guaranteed (you know, after the next crossover).

It’s great stuff.

CREDITS

The New Iron Age; writer, Matt Fraction; artists, Salvador Larocca, Kano, Nathan Fox and Carmine Di Giandomenico; colorists, Frank D’Armata, Javier Rodriguez and Matthew Wilson; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man Annual 1 (August 2010)

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Fraction opens with an Immortal Iron Fist reference, then the Mandarin kidnaps a movie director and his wife, holding them hostage until the guy makes a movie of the Mandarin’s life.

The Mandarin is a megalomaniac—Fraction does a fantastic job making every single scene with the character disturbing. A couple factors drive the issue. First, the director’s the protagonist and there’s the question of his fate. Second, the story the Mandarin tells continues to get convoluted, both by the truth and then by the Mandarin changing details himself. It’s an interesting way for Fraction to catch readers up on a lot of history while accounting for some possibly dated details.

Di Giandomenico does a good job with the art, but he’s one of those guys where it’s never clear if people are supposed to be funny-looking or it’s just his style.

It’s an excellent standalone. Fraction does great.

CREDITS

Mandarin: The Story of My Life; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Carmine Di Giandomenico; colorist, Matthew Wilson; letterer, Rus Wooton; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Ralph Macchio; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 33 (February 2011)

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Interesting, we never get the saboteur revealed.

This issue is a lot of setup after the action stops—Fraction goes back to the old way of writing Invincible, where Tony is narrating it. It means we get a recap of the last few issues, but it’s nice to have the narration back so who cares if it starts superfluously.

Fraction continues with his corrupt U.S. military guys here (going so far as to alienate rednecks… I love how Disney doesn’t seem to care).

Rhodey gets his own little conclusion to the story arc, which would have been more affecting if he’d been around longer. And Fraction puts off any resolution to or even discussion of Pepper and Tony.

Then the big finish has an unexpected villain team-up in the works. I’m glad they added an issue to the storyline.

The McKelvie illustrates a nice “day in the life” backup.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part Nine: The Man in the Box; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata. Good Morning, Tony; artist, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Matthew Wilson. Writer, Matt Fraction; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 32 (January 2011)

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In what I can only describe as a Jeff Parker moment, Fraction reveals—in the backup, illustrated by McKelvie—Pepper’s suit, J.A.R.V.I.S., has the hots for her. It’s cute (and ties into that next big crossover event).

The main story is Tony and Team Iron Man (I can’t imagine that name sticking) battling the drones of Hammer.

Lots and lots of action, which is what Larroca does best. Fraction does these action issues so infrequently, I’d forgotten how well they read. Though he does forget about the saboteur, who’s got to be revealed next issue. But he doesn’t just forget about revealing the saboteur, he forgets the plot point, which should be important here.

Also, I’m not sure where Rhodey’s been. He just shows up this issue like he’s been hanging out and not missing from the last two issues.

Lots of petty complaints; it’s actually a very strong issue.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part Eight: Drones Scream Down; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata. Again at the End of the World with your Pal, Pepper Potts; artist, Jamie McKelvie; colorist, Matthew Wilson. Writer, Matt Fraction; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editor, Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 31 (December 2010)

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And Fraction even takes it further… the Air Force guy agreeing to an attack endangering the American citizens he’s sworn to protect. Love it.

The issue’s pacing is a little off though. It’s a lot of corporate sabotage, Iron Man style, and it seems more like Fraction is using it to set up for a big finish. The problem is how little actually gets established here. Fraction’s putting off dealing with lots of things (Pepper and Tony, for one), but he’s also forgotten a lot of things.

Rhodey, so important a few issues ago, is absent here. So is any discussion of Tony’s memory loss. This issue is no different than one about Tony losing all his money and rebuilding. Fraction’s usually keeps all his balls in the air; it’s a bit of a surprise.

Big Iron Man II reference too. Wish the editorial mandate on those inclusions was public.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part Seven: Sabot; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Stephen Wacker and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 30 (November 2010)

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Okay, it’s not all Android users who are military industrial complex pawns, just some of them. Fraction gives the issue a great cliffhanger, just because he starts building to it about five pages before the end. But it’s a fast-paced lead-up, lending more and more to Invincible‘s movie ties.

Though, I imagine basically introducing “Lady Whiplash” also ties it to the second movie (though this issue came out long after the movie).

Fraction finally gets in an action scene, but it’s not quite a pay-off action scene. Pepper runs off to help Tony and doesn’t get to do anything once she arrives. But Fraction gets in a great face-off between Tony and the Hammer daughter.

One has to be impressed how incredibly anti-military (generals and regular soldiers are corrupt alike) Fraction gets. You’d think he’d be worried about alienating readers.

It’s an excellent action issue.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part Six: Tony, We Don’t Want To Destroy You; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Stephen Wacker and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 29 (October 2010)

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I wish Larroca could draw Rhodey better. Especially this issue. He draws him without any personality–I guess he smiles a lot. But Rhodey is actually really important to this arc, because he’s kind of taking care of Tony as Tony hides all the stuff he can’t handle from everyone else.

The issue ends with Tony being Tony–on the outside, callous and insensitive, but on the inside, calculating and thinking ahead. It’s kind of predictable (and I wish Fraction had Pepper realize it too). But there’s some other nice stuff here. When Pepper gets her Rescue armor back, Fraction recaptures that vibe from before–the regular person all of a sudden getting to be a superhero.

Amusingly (not sure if Fraction did it intentionally), he implies users of Android telephones are just as easily corruptible by evil weapons manufacturers as Pentagon stooges.

It’s a decent issue, just not exciting.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part Five: Predators and Prey In Their Natural Environments; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona and Stephen Wacker; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 28 (September 2010)

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So this issue is—while technically well-written—kind of pointless.

Fraction has a bunch of really good dialogue and talking heads scenes, but it’s about Tony hiring these guys for his new company to build an electric car. Very interesting stuff, if the series were about the company. It’s about Tony. And Tony’s best scene is with Maria Hill, where she (much like Pepper) is having problems due to their knocking boots and him not remembering it.

Otherwise, the “action” part of the issue is spent on Iron Man and War Machine going over to Japan and looking bad to the media. Apparently, S.H.I.E.L.D. knows the Hammer girls are up to bad stuff, but they aren’t doing anything about it—like stopping the Pentagon from underwriting the villains. A tad too realistic….

Nothing happens this issue (well, Pepper does wake up at the end). It’s a treading water issue.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part Four: Grand Mal Tokyo Moron Party; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Stephen Wacker and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 27 (August 2010)

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Here we get some promise of action (well, for next issue). Actually, the whole issue’s about promise.

Fraction promises the return of Rescue—a fine move, because Pepper made a very interesting superhero—as well as some Stark business developments. The action stuff he promises, which Tony and Rhodey zoom off to deal with at the end, is kind of temporary.

What Fraction’s doing with the comic, exploring the characters—this issue is Rhodey’s turn for a little examination—is very different for not just a mainstream book, but for a Fraction book.

He’s turning Iron Man into a rather good dramatic serial. The character interactions and relationship development are more important than the men in tights stuff.

It’s unfortunate he’s got Larroca on the art. The talking heads stuff is problematic (though Jack Klugman appears to be a reference—not for Tony) and the new armor looks too photoshop.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part Three: This Is What We Do; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 26 (July 2010)

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Fraction kind of skips over the craziest part of his Iron Man revamp–the liquid metal to the suit is stored in Tony’s bones. It’s a trippy, sort of non-Iron Man idea. Iron Man used to be a guy in a suit; Fraction’s turned him into something else entirely. It’s a great move.

This issue introduces the costumed villain of the storyline–Spymaster–and ties him to the Hammer girls. Or one of them, anyway. There’s also a subplot with them selling Stark weapons to terrorists.

Fraction packs the issue, getting in some great Tony stuff. There’s a lengthy monologue about Tony at the Playboy Mansion (comics are for kids!) and it closes with a little bit about Pepper. She’s not in the issue itself… but Fraction’s keeping her present, weighing on Tony’s mind.

Actually, for all the new Iron Man armor flash, Fraction’s much more interested in Tony.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part Two: Visionary Men; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 25 (June 2010)

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I was going to complement Fraction on having the greatest pacing of a comic book ever this issue… then realized it was oversized.

Still, it’s hard not to be impressed with how much Fraction does this issue. Since it’s Invincible Iron Man and it has some relation to the movies, whether it’s acknowledged or not, here Fraction gets Tony out of the weapons business (like in the first movie).

But he’s also got time to introduce Tony’s adversaries… Justin Hammer’s daughter and granddaughter. It’s an industrial conflict. Very nice.

Fraction gives Maria Hill and Rhodey some kind of send-off from the series. It’s nice, totally unnecessary and exactly what’s great about this issue. Like Tony and Reed Richards bickering. Not necessary, but great.

And Tony and Thor? Very nice stuff there too.

It does mean, however, Larroca’s doing a talking heads book. He does okay. Not good but okay.

CREDITS

Stark Resilient, Part One: Hammer Girls; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.

The Invincible Iron Man 24 (May 2010)

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Larroca’s inspiration for illustrating Captain America appears to be Chris Bachalo. Yuck.

Here’s where Tony comes back and saves everyone from the Ghost. Should have happened two issues ago. Anyway, some big problems–the injuries. The Ghost attacks Rhodey and Dr. Strange. It looks like, from the amount of blood, he does real damage.

Apparently not.

More problems–Tony’s adventures in slumberland come to a conclusion, with all the people whose deaths he feels responsible for (Happy Hogan gets a cameo, no Steve Rogers). More inexplicably, it turns out Tony’s hard drive is pre-Civil War. Guess he found a way not to make a deal with Mephisto.

Fraction’s metaphysical conclusion is pretty dumb–Tony abandoning his parents who live in a kingdom of blood (it’s about arms manufacturing, right?).

But Fraction also skips any resolution with Pepper or Maria; kind of makes all the Pepper and Tony stuff moot.

CREDITS

Stark: Disassembled, Part 5: …..; writer, Matt Fraction; artist, Salvador Larroca; colorist, Frank G. D’Armata; letterer, Joe Caramagna; editors, Alejandro Arbona, Ralph Macchio and Joe Quesada; publisher, Marvel Comics.