Invincible Iron Man #21 Review

The Revolution has not been a big fan of Matt Fraction’s run on Invincible Iron Man. Though there have been a few issues of this series that I have liked overall Fraction’s run has not been very impressive. The last issue of Invincible Iron Man was an okay beginning to “Stark Disassembled” but it still felt like Fraction is just copying old Iron Man stories and not presenting anything new to the character. But as a fan of Iron Man I am still hopeful that Fraction can turn things around as he has shown a few signs of improving in a few issues. Let’s see if Invincible Iron Man #21 can be a good read.

Creative Team
Writer: Matt Fraction
Art: Salvador Larroca
Colors: Frank D’Armata

Story Rating: 4 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: The issue begins with Tony digging out the Iron Man armor out of the sand with his father and mother asking Tony what is going on. Those machines we saw in the previous issue start getting closer to Tony and his parents location just as Tony digs up the Iron Man armor. Some other people come and help lug the armor back to the huts before the machines find them. Tony says that all of these people and the huts were not there the last time.

The scene shifts to New York City were Madame Masque and Ghost are in a hotel room talking about Masque relationship with Tony. Ghost ask if Hood knows about Masque past relationship with Tony. She breaks down a bit saying she did not know Ghost knew. Ghost says he does not care about her life and just wants to kill Tony so he wants to know what is the catch. (Is Ghost reading my thoughts? I don’t care about Madame Masque either. lol.)

Madame Masque explains that Tony is under the care of Donald Blake in Oklahoma but that Donald is just a proxy for Thor, who is protecting Tony. She also says that all of Tony’s people have not been found since what recently happened. Ghost says he can sneak into rooms but he hates that he has to go to a town filled with half of the Avengers.

Masque hands Ghost a phone and tells him that he should be able to track Tony’s repulsor technology from space with a computer she also gives Ghost. She continues by saying that the phone will allow Ghost to phase into the cellular network.

In Broxton, Oklahoma Pepper is in her hotel room writing a letter to Tony getting all of her thoughts on the paper about how she feels everything is about Tony. (Cry me a river.) As she writes the letter Rhodey walks in with Steve Rogers, who is wearing his Captain America costume, to the shock of Pepper. She hugs Steve and then Rhodey asking Steve what he is doing here. Steve says he is here to bring Tony back. They all leave her room and Pepper throws away her letter before following them out.

We shift to an operating room with Tony and Pepper in separate operating tables and the doctor who performed Pepper’s surgery is there ready to perform another operation. Tony explains that the doctor is going to transfer the repulsor unit in Pepper’s body to his own as it is going to fuel his body again. He says that the repulsor was only meant to accelerate Pepper’s healing process after the terrorist attack on Stark Tower but Pepper took the option to leave it in. As Tony explains everything that happened to lead to this point and how he is thankful to have a friend like Pepper the doctor finishes up the operation.

In another room were Steve, Black Widow, Rhodey, and Maria Hill are waiting the doctor comes in telling them it’s their turn.

Back in the world were Tony is in he and his father are putting the Iron Man armor together. Tony’s dad says that Tony will need help to turn the armor on. Howard helps his son get the armor on but before he can Tony’s mom yells that the machines are there. The machines crush all of the huts.

Back in Oklahoma Tony is walking Rhodey through the steps of taking apart Pepper’s armor to create something to power the repulsor that will bring Tony back. Steve, Bucky, and everyone else help to move Tony’s body to the roof and Steve places his shield on the ground.

The doctor who performed the surgery says this is crazy but Rhodey says that is Tony. Donald ask Steve and Bucky if they are sure the shield will be able to withstand what he is going to do. They say it will and Donald turns into Thor and smashes his hammer onto the shield channeling lightning into Tony’s body to jump start it. Tony feels the shock and opens his eyes.

In the Cube Ghost calls the Sooner Inn, the place Tony and the gang are staying in. The receptionist picks up the phone but Ghost does not say anything. She hangs up and leaves the room and Ghost starts laughing. End of issue.

The Good: Invincible Iron Man #21 was a dull read. What is hurting Matt Fraction’s story is that he is not exploring any new water with the character. As a long time Iron Man fan Fraction has done nothing with Tony’s character that hasn’t been done before. There are a lot of old Iron Man stories that break down the character and explore his psyche much better than this “Stark Dissassembled” arc has done so far.

But sticking to the Revolution’s rule of positivity there were a couple good things in this issue that Fraction was able to do in this issue. One thing that Fraction was able to do in this issue and the last one is to write a very good Ghost and Madame Masque. Both characters are long time Iron Man villains and it is nice to see them involved in this story.

Also after 19 issues of Pepper being the most unreadable character of the series I have to give Fraction credit for finally giving us a “realistic” Pepper. In this issue, and in the last issue, Pepper actually reads like she should and not just another one of Tony’s groupies. Her reaction to Tony getting a second shot at life when her husband, Happy, didn’t is the type of characterization of Pepper that we should have seen during “World’s Most Wanted.” And I did like that seeing Steve back gave Pepper hope that bringing Tony back is the right thing to do.

The Bad: For a story that is suppose to deconstruct Tony and explore what makes him tick this has been a story that has done everything but that. This story is just a big reset button to everything Ellis and the Knaufs did with the character the past five years in order to make Tony more like the Iron Man movie version of the character. Fraction’s run as a whole has basically taken everything that has happened to Tony and putting him back to the very beginning.

I would not mind it as long as Fraction would explore Tony and what makes him such a great character. But so far he has done nothing like that. Almost everything that he has done is presenting the very basics of the character and not doing anything with him. It is really frustrating as a long time Iron Man reader that Fraction hasn’t done anything to give us his take on the character. Instead all he has done is copy what has come before him.

And I understand that the comic book industry as a whole is an industry that has cannibalized itself with writers having to write similar stories to the ones told in the past. But for a talented writer, which most comic writers are, they are able to write these older stories and make them feel new. And Fraction is a very talented writer as he has shown with his work on Immortal Iron Fist and the Thor one-shots but so far he hasn’t been able to translate that into his work on Invincible Iron Man.

What hurts this story he currently is telling even more is that anytime Tony does appear in the issue it feels like complete filler in order to fill the page count of each issue. The scenes in the mental world that Tony is stuck in have not added anything to the story.

Even having his parents there hasn’t added much to the story as Fraction isn’t exploring the unique relationship Tony has with his mom and dad. He shows hints of Tony’s antagonistic relationship with his father but nothing more. And having his mom in the scenes is useless as we don’t see her interact with her son at all and her spot could be filled by any random or unknown character. It is really a shame to because there is potential to explore the relationships with Tony has with his parents but Fraction is not doing that.

Also I hate the fact that Marvel and Fraction have basically spoiled what happens in Captain America: Reborn by showing Steve is back and is Captain America, along with Bucky. Though there have been small delays in the mini-series, Reborn has always been meant to at the very least end in December, though it has been pushed to January, with an extra issue added to the mini-series. And this is something Marvel has known so it is just bad management by them to spoil an event that was always meant to end this month. So this isn’t like what is going on in Flash: Rebirth were there have been very long delays between issues and Marvel has no excuse to say that it is because of delays this has happened like DC since it is clear when the story was supposed to end.

Not helping matters is Salvador Larroca’s artwork which continues to look stiff and way too shiny when it comes to drawing people. Though there was that cool spread page of Thor slamming his hammer onto Cap’s shield the rest of the issue just runs from being inconsistent to stiff. And it does not help when this whole issue is a talking heads type issue which Larroca is not very good at drawing.

Overall: Invincible Iron Man #21 was another dull and unexciting read. At times it seems that Fraction is just mailing it in with the story. Though I am sure new readers may enjoy seeing the resetting of Tony Stark’s character as it moves the character to be a little more like his movie counterpart for long time Iron Man fans this is a title that will continue to disappoint. It is just not adding anything to the character or exploring what makes Tony tick. As a fan of the character I still hold out hope the story can improve but that hope is quickly dying out as the story fails to catch my interest.