Iron Man, Hero No More: Matt Fraction on Invincible Iron Man

Matt Fraction on Invincible Iron Man

Invincible Iron Man #8

It’s a new day for Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man.

While he may be the star of a multi-hundred million dollar movie with a sequel in the works, in comics, he’s become the world’s most wanted criminal and traitor.

A quick bit of history on how the mighty fell: after a horrible accident involving super-heroes, the government required that all heroes register their secret identities with S.H.I.E.L.D., the country’s all-knowing police force. Stark headed up the Registration initiative, which turned him into an enemy in the eyes of many (Spider-Man, Wolverine, Captain America, etc) who felt that registration was an invasion of their privacy by a system that could not be trusted. That was Civil War.

And then the aliens invaded. Shape-shifting Skrull, to be precise. Long story short, after positioning himself to be the world’s top cop, Stark a) didn’t see the invasion coming, and b) could barely do anything to stop it once it got started. As a result, he was kicked out of his job as head of S.H.I.E.L.D., S.H.I.E.L.D.was summarily dissolved, and Stark was replaced by Norman Osborn (the Green Goblin). That was Secret Invasion.

That covers the basics.

This week, writer Matt Fraction kicks off the “World’s Most Wanted” arc in Invincible Iron Man #8, which tells the story of Stark’s high speed fall from hero to criminal. As Fraction told Newsarama, Stark’s fall was already in the cards when he came on to the series, so he’s known since the beginning that he’d soon be writing about a hunted Tony Stark.

Invincible Iron Man #9

“The broad strokes were in place,” Fraction said. “The Skrull virus damaging all the Stark tech, and Tony's fall from grace at S.H.I.E.L.D., Norman's ascent. If anything, I started trying to throw gasoline on the fire. I pitched the first and second arc all at once to get the book, with the second being informed by the fallout from Secret Invasion. The timing all worked out.”

As the coming arc will show, Stark’s fall isn’t something that’s limited to just the power brokers and the upper eschelons of superhero-dom in the Marvel Universe. Much like the crisis we’re in today, the problems of Tony Stark…well, the problems Tony Stark caused are something that everyone has an opinion on.

“Some people still hold him responsible for Cap's assassination,” Fraction said. “His company was attacked globally by radicalized, highly mobile and horribly inventive superterror assault waves that crippled his management and manufacturing capabilities, to say nothing of the lost lives and attendant shock and horror. He couldn't marshal the forces needed to ultimately defeat the Skrulls-- that was Norman Osborn who fired the shot heard 'round the world, as it were. During the invasion, his armor failed, and the Extremis enhancile-- the technogoo that interwove his suit with his nervous system-- failed, along with all the other commercial grade Stark tech that was on at the time. Every computer, every cell phone, every satellite, every toaster oven-- all failed. So Tony - at one time the top cop of the Marvel Universe - blew it when the Marvel Universe, or at least the Earth corner of it, needed him most.”

And that; the writer continued, is where the story starts this week – with a macro look at the world: S.H.I.E.L.D.’s death knell, H.A.M.M.E.R.'s ascent, Stark abdicating his position as CEO of Stark Enterprises and Stark handing the keys over to Norman Osborn. “It happens very fast; it's very brutal,” Fraction said. “And it moves micro from there. Tony, [Maria] Hill, and Pepper [Potts], and what happens to them after the devil takes the wheel. Tony has very specific missions for the three of them; to prevent Osborn from inflicting the maximum damage possible on the world, the three of them have to throw everything away.”

Invincible Iron Man #10

And on the personal level, the defeat is a gut punch of gut punches to Stark – first and foremost, he let the world down, both in being unable to stop the invasion, as well as allowing his technology to be vulnerable to the Skrull virus.

As for that tech? As Fraction explained, “If it was on, during the invasion, it's toast. A Skrull virus rendered it useless. Some of it still exists, some of it still works, but the Stark name doesn't engender Brand Confidence in the consumer sector anymore. I mean, imagine if 90% of the tech running Windows around the world bluescreened all at once and stayed bluescreened.”

Secondly in that gut punch category Fraction explained, is the psychological factor. “He's a genius that got beaten at the genius-game. I think he's shaken up badly, in deep trouble, and up against the wall. I don't want to give away what exactly happens, how, or why, but Tony becoming the most wanted man in the world also makes him the most dangerous man in the world. At least to Osborn.”

That said though, he may be shaken up, but he’s still Tony f’n Stark.

“Tony'll never lose his swagger,” Fraction answered when asked if Tony was beaten. “He'll lose the attendant billions that go with it, but Tony will go to his grave with a smirk on his face. So taking that personality-- that larger than life arrogance and confidence, and shattering it against a fascist regime that wants him dead is a lot of fun.”

Invincible Iron Man #11

Fans are already speculating on just what Tony has (and refuses to hand over) that Osborn wants. As for his goal and a possible way out in this game that he’s now found himself in?

“He... needs to stay alive and out of Osborn's hands for a set period of time,” Fraction said. “That's the only way out. That's maybe not his larger goal, so much as his immediate goal. His larger goal is known to him and me. Not even Pepper, not even Hill, know what his master plan is. They have less to hide if they get caught that way.”

Big picture-wise, as Fraction said, this arc was in his plans from the start of his work on Invincible, and fits perfectly into his larger vision for what he wants to do with Tony Stark and Iron Man.

“I’ve said from the get-go that I wanted a reckoning to come for Tony-- not just for whatever sins real or imagined he committed during Civil War, but all his sins, for all his life-- who he is, how he came to be... the sins of his entire legacy will be answered for. What started with Zeke Stane, and Tony's history as a weapons designer and manufacturer, continues on... If Zeke hated Stark the weaponeer, Osborn hates Stark the Supercop...”

Invincible Iron Man #8 by Fraction and Salvador Larocca is due in stores on December 17th.


Twitter activity