Matt Fraction has always walked a fine line in scripting Invincible Iron Man. While it looks a bit like the film (and even blatantly cribbed elements from the initial movie trailers), it also refuses to feel like a continuation or imitation of the movie by incorporating crazy technological ideas and exciting story arcs. It’s relatively self-contained but not afraid to include appearances from Mr. Fantastic, Thor, and Dr. Strange. Nor does it even eschew influence from major Marvel Universe events. Despite giant robots and suits of armor, it feels grounded and realistic, but not limited by this sense of realism.
It’s hard to be everything to everyone, but Invincible Iron Man #25 succeeds in its myriad goals. It sets up the new status quo, recaps the series for new readers jumping on after the new movie, and delivers a lot of intriguing character stuff for those of us who’ve been following the book for the past two years.
This issue delivers more of what we expect from the book: Tony Stark being Tony Stark in the face of corporate intrigue and rival armors coupled with forward thinking ideas about technology and superhero books. Fraction continues his thematic preoccupation with Tony Stark as a progressive futurist and what that means for Stark’s company in terms of technology vis-à-vis arms dealing. It’s starting to read a bit like Joe Casey and Dustin Nguyen’s Wildcats Version 3.0 (in the good way) as far as progressive superheroics go, but one expects that Invincible Iron Man will have more robot fights.
Invincible Iron Man #25 is a gigantic issue, but doesn’t waste a bit of space. Fraction, no stranger to ambition, introduces several plot machinations at once including Hammer Industries, the fallout of Tony’s memory backup and shaky relations with the military, but still makes room for character moments and choice lines bits of dialogue. My personal favorite, because I love Dr. Zoidberg and weird pronunciations, is “What, is he a takin' rowbut?” We all wish we were as good as Dr. Zoidberg. Anyway, thanks to smart scripting the issue keeps from feeling like 38 pages of talking heads and setup. So very risky, and it pays off.
Salvador Larroca’s art continues to impress with its big budget feel and slickness, but somebody really needs to confiscate his swipe file. Seeing Pepper Potts magically transform into Nicole Kidman in select panels (or Tony Stark into Josh Holloway, for that matter) is incredibly distracting, but it looks like that’s become his style so I suppose we’ll have to live with it. Good thing Larroca’s so talented at drawing robots that Invincible Iron Man wouldn’t look half as good with a different artist. I’m not going to complain about it again it unless it gets more rampant. I swear.
Invincible Iron Man reminds me of Grant Morrison’s New X-Men back in the day--a comic that felt informed by the film adaptation, but not slavishly devoted to it. It’s accessible to movie fans but still stands up as a distinct comic book work. All it takes was a bit of pop culture significance and some talented creators.
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