Invincible Iron Man #510 deals with the aftermath of Fear Itself and the emotional toll it took on Tony Stark — specifically, his choice to drink again. With the Serpent and his "Worthy" defeated, Tony is attempting to get his life back on track, turning his attention to Stark Resilient and regaining his sobriety. He's chosen to both hire and serve as an AA sponsor of sorts to the dwarf Splitlip. After hitting rock bottom again, Tony Stark is trying to climb back up and prove that he is, in fact, resilient.
There's more trouble brewing than just Tony's lapsed sobriety, however. Zeke Stane has teamed up with the Mandarin, pairing Iron Man's current foe with his oldest. Fraction's Mandarin, however, is not an over-the-top caricature constantly gnawing on the scenery, but a cold, calculating businessman, carefully constructing his plans from behind the scenes. He's a villain that could easily feel tired and played out, but Fraction's approach shows promise and the hope that he'll be able to breathe new life into the character.
Another familiar plot point that could easily feel tired is Tony's alcoholism. However, Fraction manages to again add enough of a new spin to keep it from feeling like a rehashing of the same story we've all read before. Tony's struggles with alcohol are ongoing, and what we're given here is a progression of those problems instead of a repeat. Tony's not in denial of his problems or his own weaknesses that cause them, but he still fights with the urge to give in. For Tony, his drinking isn't something to merely be overcome, but a constant struggle, and that comes across very well in Fraction's portrayal of him.
In this issue, we do see both familiar faces and themes that have long since been a part of Iron Man's world. However, Matt Fraction continues to demonstrate his ability to keep this title fresh, even when dipping into the past. New additions add to the story as well, such as the continued presence of Splitlip, who offers both a comedic and tragic figure in equal turns.
Overall, this comic is an enjoyable read that opens the door for a new chapter in Iron Man's saga while keeping the character well anchored in his roots.
Sara McDonald started reading comics in the third grade, and now puts her English degree to good use talking about them on the Internet. She currently resides in Western Massachusetts with a roommate, three cats, and an action figure collection and spends the time she isn’t reading comics working for a non-profit. You can visit her blog at Ms. Snarky’s Awesometastic Comics Blog.