This weekend in Chicago at the Chicago Comic-Con, Marvel Comics mentioned at their Mondo Marvel Panel the word that still strikes fear into the hearts of Avengers fans: “Disassembled”. Later this year, Matt Fraction’s first two years of Invincible Iron Man culminates in a new arc from issues #20 through #24 in ‘Stark: Disassembled’. The story follows hot on the heels of the current ‘World’s Most Wanted’ storyline which finishes up in Invincible Iron Man #19 which pits Tony Stark against Norman Osborn the Iron Patriot. With Tony’s brain not working too well and the billion dollar bounty on his head, how will the Golden Avenger even make it to the Disassembled storyline?
We are just as stumped as you are, fair reader; so Newsarama contacted Matt Fraction in the hopes of disassembling some of the mystery around this next step in the evolution of Iron Man.
Newsarama: Tony Stark has just been put through the ringer in ‘World’s Most Wanted’ and now it seems things are going to get much worse; how is that possible? What can you divulge about Invincible Iron Man: Stark Disassembled?
Matt Fraction: Trust me things can always get worse. Tony Stark is taking a fall and now all the king’s horses and the king’s men aren’t capable of putting Humpty Dumpty back together again—but maybe…Humpty doesn’t want to be put back together again.
Without getting into too much of the ending of ‘World’s Most Wanted’…both Tony and Norman come out winning; Tony runs his race and Norman has a problem solved. This next arc deals with the immediate fallout from ‘World’s Most Wanted’—you’ll get to see who is left standing.
The questions remaining involve Tony and what sort of state he’s going to be in. Where is he? What is he? How is he? Again, Tony is going to survive ‘World’s Most Wanted’ and he’s going to cross his finish line—where ever that finish line may be. The quick answer to all these questions is “Keep Reading.”
NRAMA: Stark has some pretty powerful friends and allies; who can readers expect to see in this new arc?
FRACTION: You know, all kinds of people are going to come out of the woodwork for wakes or vigils—maybe ‘vigil’ is the right word. This vigil is going to bring out all kinds of friends and allies.
NRAMA: How will the events taking place in Invincible Iron Man fit into Norman Osborn’s plans that come to fruition in 2010?
FRACTION: Interestingly you’ll notice that there is no “Iron Man: The List” book coming out—and both Tony and Norman kind of win; if you can sort of beam that into your minds, what exactly is a ‘win’ for either of these men? Even though it seems like victories for everyone, Norman considers his Tony problem is now solved. It’s comforting to know that Tony has enough friends and family who would like to politely disagree.
NRAMA: Will readers see a more direct confrontation between Stark and Osborn under your watch? If so, will the effects of that battle have lasting ramifications?
FRACTION: Absolutely. Irrevocably. Exactly. Powerfully.
Issue #19. That’s the end—the ultimate Rocky Balboa versus Apollo Creed confrontation and it’s the note that ‘World’s Most Wanted’ ends on.
NRAMA: What makes Norman Osborn such a perfect foil for Tony Stark?
FRACTION: He’s everything that Tony isn’t. He’s a thief; he’s a coward; he’s a bully; he’s intellectually dishonest; he lacks real innovation; he’s stolen or taken or seized every bit of power he has—he’s not earned a single thing is his lifetime. He’s Salieri to Tony’s Mozart and also he’s absolutely crazy and Tony is under his skin in a way that no one else has ever been. Tony is who Osborn wants to be—who he’ll never be. I mean, wearing that Iron Patriot suit, that’s good stuff. Osborn has a special hate for Spider-Man but he’s got a special envy for Tony Stark.
NRAMA: Will Stark Disassembled have any metaphorical connotations that study the inner workings of Tony Stark the man versus Iron Man the superhero?
FRACTION: Oh my, yes. Break out your Jungian workbooks, children!
NRAMA: How difficult is it to plan “game changers” of this sort of magnitude when the next Iron Man film is slated for the summer? Is there ever a moment where you progress a character like Iron Man a step forward only to have to take two steps back?
FRACTION: Good question. ‘World’s Most Wanted’, in particular, was the pitch that got me the book. It was the story that everyone wanted me to get to and wanted to see—so Marvel knew it was coming.
It was actually quite fortunate that everything kind of fell right into place—my plans were fluid enough that I could grow and contract things in such an organic way; I wanted ‘World’s Most Wanted’ to be a larger tour of Tony’s life because the ramifications of the events in the story are so big. I really wanted to tell a larger story—I’ve been influenced quite a bit by [writer] Brian [Bendis]’s Daredevil stuff and Ed [Brubaker]’s Captain America stuff. I might have labeled each part of the story as “one part of twelve” in retrospect but, you know, it is one big story that has been leading up to #19.
With the natural way that stories tend to ebb and flow, you can take these first three arcs and then add ‘Disassembled’ which will end with issue #24—then you’ll have #25 which will begin a brand new arc in May of 2010 which is when the movie comes out. It was kind of blind dumb luck, actually. If you look at the first three arcs and include ‘Disassembled’ it forms this loose three-act structure for Tony—these things just sort of happened. I’ve been very lucky; I haven’t had a lot of “Well, this is how things are going to be with the movie coming out…”—my story, in its entirety, has remained sacrosanct. It’s really been kind of a dream gig.
NRAMA: Are there any other characters that you haven’t been privy to yet in the Marvel Universe that you would like to “disassemble”?
FRACTION: No. I’m kind of looking forward to everybody starting to rise up. It’s been kind of a ‘Peter Parker Year’ for everybody, you know? I think it’s time for everyone to kind of become focused. That’s how I see my work in the next year—I want to move everything forward.
Besides, I think all the good guys have been ‘Disassembled’ at this point in some sort of way.
NRAMA: So I guess this goes without saying that there will not be someone different wearing the Iron Man armor when all the dust from Stark: Disassembled settles?
FRACTION: I don’t know if that necessarily goes without saying. Keep reading.
NRAMA: You obviously have plans for Iron Man—whoever that may be—after Stark Disassembled; any ideas or thoughts you’d like to give fans of the series to chew on for a while?
FRACTION: Well, it’s Tony’s book first and foremost and you can’t forget that, the most gifted actor of his generation, Robert Downey Jr., plays the guy in the most anticipated movie of next year. This is Tony’s story and we never take our eye off that particular ball—this is an Iron Man story; this is it. This is Tony at his moment of crisis and I’ve never enjoyed writing him more; the stakes have never been higher and things have never been darker; but, at the same time, Tony’s never been better—this is him at his strongest.