Best Shots Extra: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #513 - Reviewed!

Best Shots Extra: INVINCIBLE IRON MAN

Invincible Iron Man #513

Written by Matt Fraction

Art by Salvador Larroca and Frank D'Armata

Letters by Joe Caramagna

Published by Marvel Comics

Review by George Marston

'Rama Rating: 8 out of 10

While more prominent titles go about having flashy, much-hyped events and world shattering status shake-ups, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca have been quietly crafting one of the longest-running and most consistent collaborations in Marvel history with Invincible Iron Man. That's not to say the title hasn't had some missteps — the recent tie-in issues come to mind — but any book that can go for almost 50 issues without a single fill-in, all the while weaving long running and climactic threads into a puzzle this big should be praised despite a five or six issue span of less than exemplary stories. Now, with the seeds planted all the way back in the series' first arc colliding with elements of nearly every subsequent story around Iron Man's greatest enemy, the Mandarin, Fraction and Larroca look to be making good on promises that were made even years ago.

Fraction has the art of characterization down to a science. His Tony Stark is instantly recognizable, even when weighed against Robert Downey Jr.'s obviously influential take on the character, and though he's changed much under Fraction's watch, it's been an organic process. Now, we're seeing a Tony Stark who has seen what happens when he runs from his problems, and instead is choosing to take them head on. Even in Fraction's own run, there was a time when being confronted with a military task force assigned to bring him in would have resulted in a fight, and a fugitive Tony Stark. Instead, we're seeing Tony take responsibility for himself, and his actions. It's kind of thrilling to see a writer and character growing together, and even though I rarely see a lot of hype surrounding this book, I think Matt Fraction's Tony Stark is one of the most definitive portrayals of the character that's ever been put to paper.

Salvador Larroca's style of art for this title has been unmistakable, and though it's highly stylized, its almost photorealistic composition suits the bleeding edge atmosphere of Tony Stark and his invincible armor. On top of that, the fact that the dude has drawn 46 issues of this title without a break, and his art has only gotten stronger and easier to read is a treatment on how to draw comics. Larroca's use of lighting and staging in scenes like Ezekiel Stane's confrontation with the Mandarin in his laboratory are cinematic and deep, and it's as much because of Larroca's well thought out set-pieces and angles that this book reads almost like a high-end TV drama as much as a classic Marvel comic. There's a lot to be said for being able to lose yourself in the rush and chaos of something as unlikely as a guy who flies around in a suit of armor without ever questioning the likelihood of what you're seeing, and Larroca accomplishes that willingness to suspend "real life" for as long as you're looking at his art.

With a scene as climactic as the one at the end of this issue, with nearly every notable enemy of the Invincible Iron Man gathered together under the guidance of the Mandarin and Ezekiel Stane, the building blocks that have been carefully lain throughout this series are finally starting to take shape. There may have been some stretches where the wheels seemed more like they were spinning aimlessly rather than building up speed, but as of this issue, Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca look to be firing on all cylinders, leading to what can only wind up being one of the most iconic clashes between Iron Man and the Mandarin of all time. The premise is a long time coming, and hard-earned. I'm hoping that the destination will live up to the ride.

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