It’s easy to dislike Tony Stark. He’s rich, brash, and arrogant. He’s an alcoholic and a womanizer. That’s all superficial though. If you dig below the surface, he becomes a more interesting and likable guy. He’s incredibly smart and even if his methods are sometimes questionable, you can see he has good intentions at heart. Those aren’t always enough, but the fact that he does want to improve the world makes up for a lot.
My only experiences with Iron Man to this point have been the recent Marvel films (seriously, how perfect was the first one?!) and in various Avengers comics from the 60s-80s. I think getting to know him through Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca’s Invincible Iron Man was an ideal introduction. The first volume – “The Five Nightmares” – showed multiple facets of the character. This iteration of Stark seemed similar to Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal of the character too and that didn’t hurt.
I got to see Tony being clever, smarmy, petulant, compassionate, and triumphant. I also saw him experience perceived failure when he couldn’t stop Ezekiel Stane. And he was afraid, let’s not forget that because I haven’t often seen super heroes admitting their nightmares. This time it was the title of the story.
Stark has plenty to worry about. Other jokers with evil intentions have versions of his suit. It’s dangerous technology when it’s in the wrong hands. Deadly, in fact. Pepper Potts is nearly killed by Stane’s actions. Stane is younger, seemingly smarter, and lethal. He doesn’t care about the lives of innocents and is so focused on avenging his father that he becomes a monster.
Even with all that on his mind, Tony is able to multitask like a boss. In between tracking Stane and his terrorists, he’s holding meetings. He takes out bad guys while giving a presentation. He performs his duties as a Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and still tackles the world’s problems. He never stops, and his mind never stops – to the point that he doesn’t sleep.
And Fraction is clever about how he shows Tony’s smarts. Illustrating a hero’s power seems easier. You can draw the armor and show how a repulsor works and demonstrate actions with the art and sound effects. Getting the reader to see inside the workings of a character’s head is probably a different matter, and it’s important when you’re writing and drawing heroes like Stark, Reed Richards, and Bruce Banner. And I think Stark is a tad unconventional in comparison to those two guys, too.
You can really see it in this scene:
The thought of Stark buying a sugary soda to add to his company’s holdings makes absolutely no sense at first, but when he explains his plan for Okle Cola’s vending machines I wanted to clap. Creative, out of the box – pick a cliché – that’s Stark. His approach makes him a successful business man and hero. He comes at problems a different way – in ways that wouldn’t even cross the minds of most people.
Kudos to Tony for being a genius and to Fraction for showing readers into Tony’s brain.
Larroca’s art is a touch too photorealistic for my taste but at the same time, I think it made Invincible Iron Man hit me harder. The comic pages practically felt like images from a news report so the story felt more real. Like the fictional world was my world and we were all in danger – I was nervous!
Overall, this story endeared me to the hero Iron Man but especially to the man underneath the suit. I felt like I got to experience his character and get to know him in a way I haven’t in other stories. I can’t wait to read more about Tony Stark.
Allow me to leave you with this hilariousness courtesy of Maria Hill: