Comic Judgment: Invincible Iron Man #500.1

The Invicible Iron Man #500.1
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca
Colors: Frank D’Armata
Letters: Joe Caramagna

Confession time: This is the first standalone Iron Man comic I’ve ever read. My knowledge of Tony Stark has been limited to team books like The Avengers, his guest appearances in other comics, and the recent movies. So in a way, I’m probably the ideal audience for The Invincible Iron Man #500.1, which is essentially a recap of Stark’s life from childhood to present day. While there’s probably nothing new here for longtime fans, it’s an absorbing, attractively presented story for newbies.

Tony narrates his story during an AA meeting, and writer Matt Fraction uses the classic flashback storytelling device. However, the script never seems cliched or movie-of-the-week manipulative. What’s most interesting is Stark’s exploration of how he became an alcoholic; how drinking almost destroyed his life but probably led to his reinvention as Iron Man. It’s clear that he has a tenuous hold on sobriety, and that his addiction has been deeply humbling. He’s a billionaire bachelor and a genius superhero, but at AA, he’s just another guy with a cup of crappy coffee who’s trying to stay on the wagon. Fraction does a very good job of conveying Tony’s basic persona and his vulnerability. You just can’t help but root for the guy despite the considerable damage that he’s done to himself and others.

I really responded to Salvador Larroca’s art, particularly his gift for realistic, detailed facial expressions. His closeups of Stark feature heavily in this intimate story, and it works. Frank D’Armata’s coloring is muted, but his palette suits the narrative’s tone. I don’t often pay close attention to lettering unless it’s done poorly, but Joe Caramanga’s stood out for the opposite reason: They’re quite good.

It’s impossible to give a full picture of such a storied character in one issue, but Iron Man #500.1 hits all the highlights: His relationship with his parents, how he became a crime-fighter, and the toll that his drinking took on his relationships with women, business associates, and the other Avengers. Seeing all that dysfunction crammed into a single issue is heavy stuff, but also touching. There’s a moment toward the end where he calls Pepper Potts, and that brief exchange reveals a great deal about their connection.

For the people who already know this stuff, Iron Man #500.1 might seem extraneous and a waste of their time. But for readers not terribly familiar with Tony Stark, it’s a solid, enjoyable read and a very good entry point.

7 thoughts on “Comic Judgment: Invincible Iron Man #500.1

    • I will! :)

      I am also reading some of the Fables books since you mentioned them. It is really a fun series!
      I do appreciate your recommendations. :)
      If I may I would like to suggest a new graphic novel that I found a my local public library.
      It is called The Zabine Sisters and it is by Aristophane translated by Matt Madden.
      It is not a super hero graphic novel just a beautifully done black and white novel about three sisters and their growing up. I just wanted to share this with you both. :)
      If you care to read it the ISBN# 978-1-59643-683-1
      Thanks for listening and Happy Black History Month! :)
      i

      Like

  1. I’m going to disagree with you on one point. I am a long-time reader of Iron Man’s various titles, and this issue was also a treat for me. The way Tony tells his story to the other AA attendees was more important (IMHO) than what the story was. It rang true, despite his deliberate verbal dancing around actually using the name "Iron Man".
    I’ve read more than 180 comics so far this year, and this is easily one of the best. The latest Sweet Tooth (#18) is the only other comic close to it in terms of quality and honesty. (Sneaky plug!)

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  2. Hey i really love your gals reviews and I was just wondering if you would do a review for
    THE ALL-NEW BATMAN: THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD #4?
    Thanks

    Like

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