Comic Book Review: Invincible Iron Man #2

The Revolution found Invincible Iron Man #1 to be a completely serviceable read that was new reader friendly and looked more to the Iron Man movie for its source material than Iron Man’s comic book continuity. Fraction offered up plenty of action and adventure in a story that was fun, but no where near as intriguing or original as what the Knaufs have given us over on Iron Man: Director of SHIELD. Still, I had fun with the debut issue of Invincible Iron Man. I expect Invincible Iron Man #2 to be a fun read that doesn’t that is new reader friendly and doesn’t ask much from the reader. Let’s go ahead and hit this review for Invincible Iron Man #2.

Creative Team
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca

Art Rating: 9 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Iron Man battling the A.G.M. (Advanced Genocide Mechanics) soldiers. Suddenly, M.O.D.O.C. (Mental Organism Designed Only for Genocide) appears on the scene and fires rockets at Iron Man. Iron Man attempts evasive maneuvers and thinks how he needs to ditch the rockets on his feet and design a form of alternative propulsion tech. (That is actually a nice creative thought.)

Iron Man blasts the missiles and then grabs M.O.D.O.C. and flies him up high into the atmosphere. Iron Man pulls M.O.D.O.C. out of his battle suit and flings him into space. Iron Man contacts Pepper and tells her that A.G.M. was not responsible for the suicide bombings in Tanzania. That A.G.M. thinks too old-fashioned.

Tony thinks about how he is a visionary and a futurist. Tony thinks how he prides himself on being well ahead of everybody. Tony thinks that if someone wanted to drive a person like Tony crazy then it would be to make him wait for something to happen.

We cut to Manila, Philippines. We see a Pilipino super group called the Triumph Division being honored for their work saving the country from a devastating tsunami. The Triumph Division consists of Red Feather, St. George, Might Mother, Anitun, Fighter One, the Wishing Man and the great Mongoose.

We see monks come up on the stage to present gifts of gratitude to the heroes. Suddenly, the monks glow like the suicide bombers from last issue. The monks then explode and kill the members of the Triumph Division. (Well, that super group sure didn’t last long, huh? I probably shouldn’t have bothered to type in all their names in this review.)

We shift to Ezekiel Stane watching the news report of the suicide bombing in Manila. A religious zealot who is one of Stane 2.0’s clients says praise be to God. The religious client says that God performs his works through Stane 2.0. Stane 2.0 remarks that God has nothing to do with it. Stane 2.0 tells the religious client that if he keeps babbling then Stane might seriously re-think his business relationship together.

Stane 2.0 then backs off and asks his client to give him a minute. Stane 2.0 then says that his body can adapt to these changes but that the changes are still stressful. Stane 2.0 then leads his client down to the room where Stane 2.0 will be “upgrading” his client’s men.

Stane 2.0 talks about how the genius of what he is offering is that the hardware costs are negligible. That these modifications are single use. They don’t need to last. That the Iron Man armor costs billions. Stane 2.0 says that he can offer the same firepower with an organic power source for a fraction of that cost. Stane 2.0 says that they are telling the body what to do. Stane 2.0 says that this isn’t Evolution. That this is Intelligent Design.

The two men then enter a dirty, dingy, bloody and creepy surgery room. This is where Stane 2.0 will convert his client’s men into living repulsor bombs at the rate of four men per day. The client is horrified by the room and says that this is unacceptable. Stane 2.0 sneers that the client is put off by the appearance of the lab. Stane 2.0 says that he thought his client’s men got to heaven after their sacrifice.

Stane 2.0 explains that they have no base. That they never stay put more than 96 hours. That they don’t have bank accounts and they don’t even have I.D.’s. That they cannot be stopped because nobody knows that they even exist. That this isn’t the future of warfare. Stane 2.0 says that this is the face of asymmetrical warfare.

We cut to Iron Man, War Machine and Pepper investigating the scene of the Manila suicide bombing. Iron Man comments that the bombs where definitely repulsor-based weapons and that the blast pattern and scorching are consistent with the suicide bombing in Tanzania. Iron Man says that whoever is behind the attacks is getting bigger and better and that they are working internationally.

We slide forward to Iron Man attending the funerals being held for the various members of the Triumph Division. We see Iron Man arriving at Anitun’s funeral. Thor is also at the funeral. Tony badly wishes that Thor would acknowledge him and talk to him. The two avoid each other for most of the funeral until the very end.

Iron Man finally approaches Thor and comments that it was nice that Thor came to Anitun’s funeral. Evidently Thor felt a kinship with Anitun because she was the embodiment of the goddess of wind and rain. Iron Man says that this event is not about the two of them. That Thor does not get to blame Tony for this. Iron Man then tells Thor that anytime he wants to get back in the game to let Tony know.

Thor responds with a “Hmph” and taps Iron Man’s chest plate with his hammer which chips the paint. Thor then flies off. Tony thinks how the self-righteous and stubborn Thor chipped his suit.

Pepper then radios Iron Man and reminds Tony that the StarkDynamics gala in Taiwan begins in two hours. We cut to Tony in his tux and Pepper in her dress on their way to the party. Tony comments that Pepper’s dress looks nice but that it would look better on his floor. Pepper asks Tony if that line ever works. Tony replies sometimes. Pepper retorts that Tony dates morons. Tony then asks if Pepper knows any smart hot girls on the market. (You mean other than smart hot girls who used to be married to one of your best friends?) Pepper responds that there must be one at a gala event like this one.

We shift to the middle of the gala. Tony is pimping a whole bunch of ladies. Tony asks Pepper to grab some more champagne for the girls. Pepper stalks off and returns with two glasses of champagne and dumps them in Tony’s face. Pepper tells Tony to go to hell and then storms off. (Nah, Pepper is too professional and has too much class to act in this fashion.)

Tony begins to run after Pepper, but he is stopped by Stane 2.0 Stane shakes Tony’s hand and says that the two of them met in Los Angeles for a couple of seconds not too long ago. Stane introduces himself as Ezekiel Stane. Tony pays no attention at all to Stane.

Suddenly, a bunch of zealots with repulsor bombs inside of them come in changing “God is great! God is power…!” We cut to Pepper outside of the building where the gala is being held. Suddenly, there is a massive explosion in the building where the gala was being held. Pepper looks up and says “Tony.” We then see rubble fall on top of Pepper and bury her. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Invincible Iron Man #2 was a nicely paced read. Fraction keeps the story rolling along while giving the read a balanced read that shifts nicely between lively action scenes and dialogue heavy dramatic scenes. Invincible Iron Man #2 is also well plotted. Fraction moves this story in a clear and purposeful fashion. Fraction has constructed simple basic plotlines that make this story new reader friendly and very accessible.

Fraction spins out some solid dialogue. It isn’t anything spectacular or impressive, but it gets the job done. Tony talks in a voice that is commensurate with what we get in the Iron Man movie.

The strength of Invincible Iron Man remains in the action scenes. Invincible Iron Man #2 doesn’t deliver a massive fight scene, but it certainly sports enough action to keep the story lively. And the action scenes in this issue are well timed. Invincible Iron Man #2 certainly never drags at any moment.

I have to admit that I dig the repulsor bomb technology that Stane 2.0 is employing with the suicide bombers. I also enjoy how Fraction contrasts Stane 2.0’s style, technology and lab with Tony’s style, technology and lab. While Tony employs a slick, glossy and high end lab in a fixed location, Stane 2.0 has created a mobile lab designed more for getting the job done than for looking cool and impressive.

Where Tony has focused on expensive weapons based on his armor, Stane 2.0 has gone the organic route to create a weapon just as powerful, but vastly cheaper and easier to manufacture. This distinction in technology between Tony and Stane 2.0 is pretty interesting. You can tell that Fraction is having fun contrasting these two characters with each other.

I am also digging the extremely utilitarian and pragmatic approach that Fraction has given Stane 2.0. His set up is basic, efficient and mobile. His plans are all down-to-earth and he offers his clients far more bang for their buck than most criminal masterminds do. Fraction does a fine job contrasting a villain for the modern era in Stane 2.0 with an older and more outdated style of criminal organization in AGM.

AGM is like most villains and villainous organizations that focus on elaborate plans, exotic weapons and grandiose and expensive technology. Stane 2.0’s operation proves that groups like AGM are a think of the past. If I were looking for a person to make weapons for me I would certainly go with someone like Stane 2.0 over a group like AGM.

I thoroughly enjoyed seeing Tony back in the world of big business and technology where he belongs. I much prefer Tony navigating the corporate waters as the CEO of Stark Enterprises and mingling at high society parties rather than running SHIELD and dealing with the world of politics. Fraction’s focusing on the corporate side of Tony’s life is by far my favorite aspect of Invincible Iron Man.

Of course, it is always great to see Tony working the ladies. The return of Tony’s playboy personality was much needed. Marvel worked so hard to make Tony as dour and unexciting as possible in the year leading up to Civil War. Tony became practically unrecognizable to long time Iron Man fans. I have to say that it is nice to have the real Tony Stark back once again.

Fraction ends Invincible Iron Man #2 with a solid hook ending. It would appear that Tony has been taken out by the suicide bombings and that the rubble from the blast has killed Pepper. We know that our hero and his trusty sidekick are going to be just fine. The fun will be seeing how Tony manages to save himself and Pepper.

Salvador Larroca supplies tons of sumptuous artwork. Seriously, Larroca creates a drop dead gorgeous comic book. This is the best looking art outside of Bob Layton that I have ever seen on an Iron Man comic book. I can’t help but imagine what if Marvel had placed the Knaufs with Larroca. I would be in Iron Man nirvana if that had happened. At any rate, Larroca’s wonderful artwork makes the story almost irrelevant. Often I found myself just staring at the pretty pictures.

The Bad: Fraction continues to fail to give us much character work on Invincible Iron Man. For the most part the characters are all a bit one-dimensional. Fraction doesn’t have his own interesting take on Tony’s character. The Knaufs gave us such a delightfully complex and unique take on Tony in Iron Man: Director of SHIELD. Favreau gives us a fun and cavalier Tony Stark on Iron Man: Viva Las Vegas that is identical to what we got in the movie. Fraction seems to be trying to give the reader a Tony that is the mix of what the Knaufs and Favreau have given us. And the end result is that Fraction’s Tony Stark is a bit of a dull blend that isn’t that engaging or intriguing and fails to deliver what the other two versions of Tony does.

Fraction is still delivering a fairly shallow story. I just don’t find the majority of what Fraction is doing on this title to be particularly original. A.G.M., M.O.D.O.G., Ezekiel Stane and the concept of someone using Stark’s technology for nefarious purposes all have that re-tread feel to them. I get the feeling that I am just reading a slightly updated version of an old story. Unlike how the Knaufs took a risk and went in such an unexpected and original direction with Iron Man, Fraction has played it extremely safe with a story that is rather derivative.

It is a shame that the Triumph Division got wiped out so fast. They seemed like some pretty cool characters. Of course, I am a sucker for groups like the Great 10. I wish Fraction had kept them around for use in future stories.

I have to say that even though there are some neat aspects to Ezekiel Stane’s operation, I largely find him to be an annoying villain. And I’m not talking about annoying in a good way. Personally, I will be thrilled when Fraction wraps up this story arc and we get to move on to another villain.

I find it totally unbelievable that Stark would not recognize a guy with the same last name as one of his greatest enemies. Fraction showed us in the last issue how Stark tracks every armored character in the 616 universe. You would think if Tony would go to such lengths to monitor all the armored characters running around then it would surely make sense that Tony would also keep tabs on the son of one of his greatest enemies. It isn’t like Stane 2.0 has changed his name or has tried to conceal his identity.

I am definitely not a fan of this romance that Fraction is attempting to create between Tony and Pepper. Pepper was the long-time wife of one of Tony’s closest friends: Happy Hogan. And it is beyond creepy to think of Tony coveting Pepper in such an open and obvious manner. Fraction handles the relationship between Tony and Pepper like Happy never existed.

Actually this leads me to another point which is that it surely seems that Fraction is using the Iron Man movie as his chief source material rather than Iron Man’s comic book continuity. It isn’t one particular plotline that makes me feel this way. It is just the general feel and tone of Invincible Iron Man that strongly reminds me of the movie. Of course, part of that impression may stem from the fact that Larroca seems completely inspired by the look of the Iron Man movie as opposed to the Iron Man comic books of the past.

Overall: Invincible Iron Man #2 was a fun read. Fraction is delivering a story that certainly has mass appeal, is easy to read and is particularly new reader friendly. Fraction is making Invincible Iron Man an accessible read for anyone who loved the Iron Man movie and then decided to give this comic book a try. I have a feeling that Invincible Iron Man will turn out to be much more popular than Iron Man: Director of SHIELD. I would expect to see Iron Man: Director of SHIELD get cancelled within a year or so.

Invincible Iron Man #2 is quality escapism and is a fun way to burn fifteen minutes. If you prefer deeper and more intriguing stories that engage you as a reader then you probably will not be that impressed with Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man.

However, if you like comic books that deliver great pure entertainment then I would recommend that you give Invincible Iron Man a try. And if you were never interested in Iron Man: Director of SHIELD, then give Invincible Iron Man a chance. I think that readers who were turned off by Iron Man: Director of SHIELD will completely enjoy Invincible Iron Man.

2 Comments

  1. What did you think of the Iron man/thor scene? although on the whole i thought the book was pretty good, something about this scene didnt sit well with me. I thought that it seemed rather contrived and i half expected thor to smoke tony over the head with his hammer when he called superheroics “a game”
    -hobosk8er

  2. “Tony thinks how the self-righteous and stubborn Thor chipped his suit.”

    He’s just feeing a little sore. Get it? Get it? See, cause it’s sore?Thor. Ya, the guy at the comic book shop did’nt laugh either.

    “Pepper stalks off and returns with two glasses of champagne and dumps them in Tony’s face. Pepper tells Tony to go to hell and then storms off.”

    Dude, thats not cool. Tony’s a recovering alchoholic and she threww booze right into his face.

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