Invincible Iron Man #13
- Words: Matt Fraction
- Art: Salvador Larocca
- Inks: Salvador Larocca
- Colors: Frank D'Armata
- Story Title: Smoke King of the World
- Publisher: Marvel Comics
- Price: $2.99
- Release Date: May 6, 2009
Posted by Steve Kanaras on May 13, 2009
Though this is part 6 and also connected to the Dark Reign storyline, I found the issue surprisingly accessible to a new reader, a quality rapidly becoming a rarity in modern superhero comics. Many plot threads are woven into the narrative, which makes for a quick reading book, but successfully executed. SHIELD agent Maria Hill attempts a daring escape from the clutches of the Controller, while Pepper Potts shows exceptional bravery in standing up to Norman Osborn in an attempt to prevent the Iron Man technology from falling into his clutches. Meanwhile, Tony Stark tries to “dumb down” his armor by finding parts at a technology fair in Paris! The ever prepared hero wants to make sure his armor will be usable as his intelligence fades. Though he attempts to blend in, even in disguise he is recognized, and forced to outwit his would be assassin, Shockwave!
Packing quite a bit of information into the script, Fraction manages to keep everything exciting, but satisfying. I enjoy his interpretation of Tony Stark as a willful and thinking superhero, hard on himself for sometimes losing focus and telling jokes. The idea of an intelligent man knowing that he will be losing his mental ability is a terrifying concept that millions suffering from debilitating brain diseases are faced with, so I hope that plot is explored significantly in further issues. Though the flashbacks of Maria Hill are somewhat cliched, I enjoyed the separation of the subplot from the main storyline, knowing that it will come back into play in the future. My only dissatisfaction with the issue was the Norman Osborn portrayal, and it may be my own fault for being so ignorant, but I never felt that Norman played with a full deck of cards. I am not sure I like the criminal mastermind, as opposed to the insane, Jekyll and Hyde type version.
Salvador Larroca's art is exceptional. Anime inspired armor adds so much to the visual interpretation of the Iron Man universe. The early Iron Man costumes looked more like a guy in spandex with a couple of metallic touches, and later versions I felt were clunky. The Pepper Potts 1616 armor is slick, graceful, but still looks like armor, even if it has breasts. The Shockwave suit was also magnificent, even if the character is a loser! It was nice to see Frank D'Armata credited on the cover, as the coloring adds so much to the look and feel of the book. Never 100% sold on computer color effects, though they work perfectly here because the book is about technology, and so it fits. Osborn seemed a bit younger than he should be, but all other characters were spot on. Though it's unusual to see Stark without a mustache, he is on the run after all!
Over the years, I have been an on and off reader of the Tony Stark adventures, but I found myself liking this interpretation quite a bit. Though it's part of a larger tapestry, the issue stood very well on its own. Solid superhero work!
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