The Invincible Iron Man

Invincible Iron ManWith me greatly enjoying the new Dark Reign issues of Invincible Iron Man, I thought it’d be an idea to catch up with Matt Fraction’s earlier issues, released this week in trade form.

The trade (which features varient covers, not something I’ve seen before on a trade.  Bit strange) covers Matt Fraction’s first arc, The Five Nightmares which sees Tony balancing his life as Director of SHIELD and involvement with Stark Industries, as Ezekiel Stane, son of Obidiah Stane finally enacts his lifelong plan to get revenge for his father’s death.

Its a great story.  I used to read Iron Man all the time, but after Heroes Reborn (I loved that take on the character), I fell out of collecting the book.  I briefly got back on board during the Secretary of Defense storyline, but then that was torpedoed by Avengers Disassembled.

This is the first time in a long time that I felt I was reading the Iron Man I remember.  Matt Fraction does a brilliant job of playing with how Tony’s mind works, through little scenes inserted into the story, where someone will say something, which gives Tony an idea as to how to solve some completely unrelated problem.   It also picks up on a well-visited aspect of Tony’s character.  His fear of the Iron Man technology falling into the wrong hands, that formed the basis as the original Armour Wars storyline.

Here we have Ezekiel Stane.  Son of Obidiah, and who has a genius-level intellict comparable with Tony’s.  While not as inventive as Tony, he none-the-less manages to reverse engineer Iron Man technology and incorporate it into suicide bombing, merging the bombers with repulsor technology.     Tony is once again forced to confront the idea that his technology is in the wrong hands, and this time its being used to cause countless deaths in acts of violence and terror.

Its a great opening to Matt Fraction’s run.  Ezekiel makes for a great foil for Tony.  Equally brilliant and younger, we have a great scene where Tony is playing chess with Reed, and Reed throws these facts at him.  Tony’s confidence comes to the fore as he beats Reed at all their games of chess simultaneously and says that’s how he’ll beat Stane.

And that’s what I truely loved about this story.  Yes, there’s a great villain, yes Fraction brilliantly plays the horror and scale of the threat this technology means, however what really makes this story is that the character of Tony Stark felt just right.   He’s a genius, he’s confident, and he’s also haunted, and absolutely terrified of what this thing he created can do.

Of course, with the benefit of reading the current issues, we can now see how Tony’s character is still being played with, with that very same confidence now being his downfall, and his intelligence being slowly taken away from him.  From what I’ve read so far, I really think Matt Fraction’s run on this title has the potential to be remembered as one of the really great runs.

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12 thoughts on “The Invincible Iron Man

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  1. Glad you enjoyed it, I thought it was a really good idea to split Iorn Man, so director of SHIELD had more SHIELD type stuff while Invincable was Shelhead fighting stuff. A really good, strong opening story as well. I’ve said this to you before, but I wish we’d had The Order show up.

    SPOILER WARNING

    In The Order, it pans out that Zeke Stane is actually behind all their villain encounters. In fact he also kills two of the Order but manages to escape. I woudl have liked to see something like Tony near the end contacting Anthem to say they got him.

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  2. Yeah, that’d have been a nice link for the people who’d read the Order.

    At somepoint I really must check out the Director of SHIELD trades. Although I seem to recall not being too keen on the art (and I do hate the Extremis armour which doesn’t help).

    Talking of which, why do the covers of Invincible Iron Man show Tony in the Extremis suit when he’s actually using the Kurt Busiek suit in the comic?

    Hope all this builds up to a redesigned Iron Man. He’s been using that Extremis suit for quite a while now.

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  3. We shoudl be due a redesign, the Extremis armour isn’t really working due to Extremis being broken. He’s in the Busiek armour at the moment, which at least makes more sense than the usual “I’m going back to my 1970s armour” he usually does. That never made sense to me, so Extremis doesn’t work so you’d expect him to go to a more recent suit. Ok the Busiek suit isn’t his most advanced but its near enough.

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  4. Oh, as if by magic, sort of, In teh preview for #11 tony is speaking to none other than…..

    Henry Hellrung, aka Anthem, Leader of The Order

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  5. Agreed about Tony’s tendency to go right back to his original red and gold suit.

    I’m all for nostalgia, but really it makes much more sense that he’d go to a more recent suit. Especially with it being long established that he leaves loads of armouries filled with his old suits kicking around.

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  6. Heh, I completely missed that. Need to check it again 🙂

    Wondering how the Tony vs Jim on the cover comes about. I’m guessing this issue will have Jim turning up as the cliffhanger though, rather than them actually fighting.

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  7. Its pretty subtle, The Order established that Henry was Tony’s AA Sponsor, see he’d been an actor who played Tony Stark in Avengers and Iron man movies and they’d gone off the rails together. I only got it through the sponsor references, he was called Henry and Tony does say he’s still new to his powers.

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  8. Oh, liking Matt Fraction’s comments about Tony’s armour-usage in upcoming issues (from his latest Newsarama interview). Basically, Tony’s currently in the Busiek suit, but will be slowly downgrading through all his old armours as his intelligence is slowly wiped, and he needs to use simpler armours.

    Quite like that idea. Hope we see the mouthless suit again. It, the post-Armour Wars Red-and-Gold and the Silver Centurion are my all-time favourite suits.

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  9. He has gone back to the mouthless suit before, in the “Armour come to life due to millenium bug” story he fought his newer armour in that suit. Quite like teh idea that He’ll be downgrading, hopefully then to have his intelligence restored and he builds a whole new suit.

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  10. I’ll probably follow this up in my next blog post, but the really interesting thing about this storyline, is how much things are stacked against Tony. Its really, really difficult to see a way out of this for him.

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  11. You know what woudl rock, if they killed tony and replaced him with a kid version. Yeah great idea, with a foil cover and 8 varieant commemorative editions.

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