The Invincible Iron Man #517
The Invincible Iron Man #517
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Writer: Matt Fraction
Penciller: Salvador Larroca

Matt Fraction has been juggling an enormous number of characters and sub plots in recent issues of Iron Man. It's almost difficult to envision how all the threads will weave together, but if there's one thing I am sure of, it's that Fraction has a plan, and I intend to enjoy every last minute of this ride.

Given that this issue is comprised of no less than seven different scenes each focusing on different characters, some of them taking place in different time periods, a plot summary not laden in spoilers would be an exercise in futility. Let's just say that Tony's "Iron Man no more!" declaration from last issue was equal parts truth and showmanship, as he begins to put his pieces into play against the agents of the Mandarin. We also see the mole at Stark Resilient continue his campaign of sabotage, and the introduction of an all new Iron Man.

Matt Fraction writes Tony Stark with a sort of effortless nuance that both perfectly captures the Robert Downey Jr. and classic interpretations of the character. His Tony Stark is such a complicated and fascinating character that entire issues could go by without Iron Man making an appearance and I would barely notice. Every word that comes out of Stark's mouth is nuanced, character revealing poetry, drenched in sarcasm and three steps ahead of the non-geniuses he surrounds himself with. And Fraction's gift for giving characters distinct voices extends to the entire cast as well, with Ezekial Stane, Bethan Cabe, and Reed Richards being exceptionally notable.

Salvador Larroca has provided amazing visual consistency to this book since he and Fraction began their run on the title several years ago. And while it still bothers me how static characters look during heated exchanges of witty dialogue, I can't imagine this story being rendered by any other artist. The action scenes towards the middle and end of the books play more to Larroca's strengths, especially the tense standoff between the Stark Resilient employees and Spy Master.

Given how many birds from earlier in the series are coming home to roost, one can't help but begin to suspect the end is approaching for what will surely be considered one of the all time greatest runs on this character. Fraction and Larroca have already set a record for most consecutive issues by the same creative team for an Iron Man title. Now all that's left is to sit back and enjoy what time we have left with these maestros as they bring their epic, to what I'm sure will be, an unforgettable conclusion.

Grade: A-
comments powered by Disqus