Invincible Iron Man 500.1 Review
So a funny thing happened today. I'm sitting in my room, getting ready to visit my girlfriend, and my roommate asked me who my favorite superhero is. I told him "The one that I have 5 figures of on my desk". That would be the Flash. But my roommate looked at my other figures too, seeing Captain America, Thor, and lastly, Iron Man. I said they were favorites too, except Iron Man. I just like the outfit that figure has. Well, issue 500.1 here has changed my mind. Matt Fraction and Salvador Larocca have crafted the most inspirational comic I have ever read and have made Tony Stark a new favorite for me.
Our issue opens with Tony Stark going to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting in the side of a church. As the meeting leader asks if anybody is celebrating a sobriety anniversary, Tony Stands up, and tells his story. He tells the tale of his childhood all alone, his parties with friends, and how one day when his friends abandoned him, he found alcohol. The drinking helped him find women, the women helped him feel more confident, and the combination of drinking and women led him to the attack that caused Iron Man. As Tony tells the story of his rebirth as Iron Man, we learn of how he built up a shell using his drinking, women, and "work". And in this shell he disappeared. He disappointed everybody, made promises he couldn't keep, and subconsciously just wanted to die. But instead, he lost it all, hit rock bottom, and worked his way up to where he is today, finally happy without the bottle in his hand, and moving forward.
Man, I don't know what it is, but Matt Fraction just completely knocked it out of the park with this issue. Beginning with this issue, Marvel is trying out their company wide, "Point One" issues, where new readers could jump on. I thought that this would just be like a glorified new arc, maybe a bit simpler, but still continuing forward and throwing in new threats. Fraction instead chose to tell the tale of Tony Stark, giving the character an insane amount of depth and explaining what he has done and why. He pretty much broke him down and simplified him so that you don't even have to know he's Iron Man to enjoy this tale and read from here out. Touching upon nearly every era of Iron Man we have seen, I'm impressed that Fraction never drops the ball and makes this really feel like a man finally opening up himself to the world. Sure, I have no idea what Fraction has planned next, but if he can makes his issues half as good as this, I'll gladly be on board for years to come.
Salvador Larocca handles art as always, but something is different here. See, instead of his usual realism with the beautiful colors of Frank D'Armata, we are given a completely new style I've yet to see him unleash. Larocca used his regular ink washing technique on the present day Tony Stark, but every bit of the story he tells is shown with a defined line-ink style that is incredibly eye-catching. Heck, I could hardly tell it was Larocca without the washes, thinking they just found somebody who complements his work. The layouts are nothing insane, but the images themselves and the detail they hold are amazing. A particular page showing Tony during the sober years stands out above all else, making for something truly amazing. Fin Fang Foom and teenage Iron Man, two concepts that are quite honestly, goofy, actually seem plausible for a second, seeming like some crazy thing that happened to Tony that he had to overcome. Bravo Mr. Larocca, you are quickly redeeming yourself to me.
Overall, this is the best single issue story I have read in a long, ling time. It's a great kickoff to the Point One initiative and a great standard for Fractions books to come out of this. 5 out of 5 stars, go out and buy this book now. I can't capture the feeling this issue gives you, you have to read it for yourself.