Invincible Iron Man #500.1


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Invincible Iron Man #500.1


  • Words: Matt Fraction
  • Art: Salvador Larocca
  • Inks: Frank D’Armata
  • Story Title: “What It Was Like, What Happened, and What It’s Like Now”
  • Publisher: Marvel Comics
  • Price: $2.99
  • Release Date: Feb 2, 2011

Best line of the issue: “Once you get into the Fin Fang Foom of it all, you can lose your audience.”

Fortunately, Tony Stark is canny enough not to lose either of his audiences—the ones listening to his (carefully edited) life story at his 12-Step meeting, or the ones out here in the Real World, reading this “Point 1” issue.

This marketing-friendly special issue serves as a “jumping-on point” for readers. It’s a one-off Iron Man story that sums up the hard knocks of the character’s personal and heroic lives, via a lengthy monologue to an alcoholism recovery group. Iron Man’s letters page was once titled “Sock it to Shellhead!”, and we see here just how many times, and how badly, Shellhead had indeed had it socked to him.

It’s a pretty poignant summation of just how vulnerable the man inside the armor really is, as Tony recounts how he started drinking (and intimates that he would probably also benefit from a sexual compulsives’ recovery group) and the toll that alcohol, women, and work (both business and super-heroism) have taken on him. “Drinking, working, women. It was like some kind of self-destructive multitasking.”

Since Tony’s identity is publicly known these days, he’s probably not as “Anonymous” in Alcoholics Anonymous as everyone else in the room, but only we readers are privy to the Iron Man side of his life and the curves—some of them very strange—that it has thrown him (note the Fin Fang Foom reference).

Fraction’s script manages to be honest, subtle, and at some points even a bit playful in a morose sort of way. One theme that he hits on in particular is how Tony builds “shells” around himself, and the Iron Man armor is only one of them. The script he’s done here is a deconstruction of all the shells. It is a sobering, pardon the expression, portrait of a hero’s unique pains.

And as for portraits, the visual side of this issue is as satisfying as the script. Salvador Larocca, of all the artists in comics today, is one whose work has undergone a splendid metamorphosis from his early style to now. Comparing his work from where he started in the 1990s to its present state, you wouldn’t know it’s the same person at the drawing board. Granted, it’s only the second month of 2011, but this is one of the most elegant and refined art jobs you’ll probably see all year and is much to be admired.

Invincible Iron Man #500.1
offers an extra bit of goodness for Marvel’s Iron Man franchise and its fans.

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