By Andy Frisk
April 1, 2009 - 17:45
Tony Stark aka Iron Man is running out of time. His self imposed mind wipe, instituted a few issues ago, is starting to take effect yet he still has several old Stark Industries/Iron Man locales to shut down. Namor, at the behest of Norman Osborne, director of H.A.M.M.E.R., S.H.I.E.L.D.S’s fascist like replacement organization, crashes in on Tony resulting in a battle that Tony barely survives. Pepper Potts, out training in her new armor which has no offensive weaponry, saves a school for music about to be destroyed in an earthquake and draws the attention of Osborne. He has her followed via satellite image and decides to “…see how much Pepper Potts is able to handle” by ordering a commercial flight in her immediate area to be shot down under phony pretenses made up by Osborne; that there’s an alien Skrull Sleeper Agent on board. Obviously, this is not the case and Osborne is simply endangering the lives of all of the plane’s passengers to test Potts’ abilities in the suit and Potts’ mental toughness. Also, in this issue, Maria Hill falls victim to The Controller.
It’s a treat to see Pepper out flying around playing hero in her own suit created for her by Tony with no weapons but rather safety and rescue technology instead. This armored suit suits (no pun intended) Pepper Potts perfectly. The clash between Namor and Tony/Iron Man is a well plotted, scripted, visualized and executed part of this issue’s action. Again though, it is Norman Osborne who steals the show, not because he is particularly charismatic, engaging or funny but because he is so frightening.
Osborne is the ultimate bogey man for our day and age. Like John Byrne’s reinvention and portrayal of Lex Luthor in MAN OF STEEL in the late 1980’s as an evil, self-consumed, super rich business man struck a chord with readers because he was so reflective of the real life “bad guys” of the time like Michael Douglas’ character, Gordon Gekko, in Oliver Stone’s WALL STREET, was as well (unfortunately, this type of “bad guy” might be making a comeback of sorts, i.e. Bernie Madoff), Osborne is the perfect representation of what an ultimate “bad guy” is today for many readers. Osborne is a power hungry, out of control, “my way or the highway,” leader of a super law enforcement agency who has no regard for Constitutional Law, spies on his fellow citizens, endangers the lives of innocent men, women and children, and uses FEAR, writ large to consolidate, maintain and enforce his power to “protect” his people. Here we have the portrait of a man who on the outside is the people’s everyman hero, but behind the scenes is a power hungry mad man who seized power on the tide of fear that arose after the alien Skrull Invasion.
Larroca’s art continues to be a treat for the techno-phile. His detailed images of Stark Industries’ technology, computer screen readouts and airline jetliners bring to life INVINCIBLE IRON MAN’s tech heavy themes. He also though pulls off some great, “undersea” tech shots of Namor on his throne in Atlantis communicating via some type of Atlantean tech video screen and Namor’s Atlantean soldiers’ gear. He gives a unique feel to this “Atlantis-tech” which, while completely foreign to our world, or Iron Man’s surface world for that matter, is still recognizable as the technological gadgets of a great civilization.
Overall, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN continues to deliver interesting stories, great art and commentary. Pepper Potts’ foray into the world of super-armored suit-powered heroics alone though are enough to have us clamoring for more, and getting it.
Rating: 9.5 /10