Or – “The Only Thing We Have To Fear Is…  Faux-Profanity!”

The summer crossover event of the season has the Avengers in a state of disarray.  Some of ’em are goin’ disarray, some of ’em are goin’ datarray, but they’re all in a tizzy.  (Except The Protector.  Nobody knows what his deal is…)  Tony Stark has been dispatched to ask a boon of the Asgardians, in the hopes of balancing the scales in the war against The Serpent…

Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larocca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: VC’s Joe Caramagna
Editor: Alejandro Arbona
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $2.99

Previously, on Invincible Iron Man:  The end of Tony Stark’s run as head of S.H.I.E.L.D. ended poorly, and his brain was rebooted.  Tony has founded a new company, Stark Resilient, and was on the cusp of reviving his business and career when The Serpent struck.  As the events of ‘Fear Itself’ spun out of control, Tony Stark was overwhelmed by the rampage of the Grey Gargoyle, then sacrificed his sobriety in an attempt to purchase a boon from Odin, all-father of Asgard.  We’re about to find out if it really worked…

You Can’t Argue With Elves…

Sooo, yeah.  It worked.  Odin and Tony Stark have a tete-a-tete, or whatever you have when one of you is plastered to the gills and one is both immortal and immaterial.  Odin agrees that Tony’s petition has merit, and agrees to give Iron Man access to the workshops of Svartelfheim (where the dwarves of lore actually forged Mjolnir, in days of yore) in the hopes that he can create weaponry to even the odds against The Worthy.  I’m not entirely sure how Tony’s technological prowess is going to translate to forges and hammers and such, but I’m not the only one, as Odin warns that he’ll only delay the inevitable.  Still, the All-Father agrees not to destroy Midgard (Earth) until Tony gets his shot.  I’m also not fully clear on how much Tony drank, as we see him drain one bottle of wine and spend half the issue blurry.  I’m not a wine drinker, and my mass-to-alcohol ratio is pretty high, but I expected Anthony Stark to have a higher booze threshold.

…Or Out-Curse A Dwarf, Apparently.

The first dwarf we meet is entertaining, as he peppers his speech heavily with obscenity, which is rendered in a Norse-ish rune script.  (I think it’s faux-Norse, but it may be for real…  Does anybody know for sure?)  While Tony explains his repulsor technology to the appreciative dwarves, Pepper Potts goes into action as Rescue to assess the situation in Paris.  (Sitrep:  Everybody is dead.)  Unfortunately for her, Justine Hammer has the same idea, sending in her Detroit Steel units to find her property, lost in a previous issue.  They meet, and things get tense, but before they can fight each other, the Grey Gargoyle (aka Mokk: Breaker of Faith) makes his presence known.  Back in Svartalfheim, Iron Man continues working with the dwarves, and their runic cursing starts to wear thin.  For his part, Tony gets in a fight, acts the fool, and ends up following the dwarves lead and “tanking up” with a big tankard of mead before continuing their work.  Things end ominous as Tony throws caution to the wind, remarking that the first drink was for Odin, but “this one is on me.”

The Verdict: Deeper Than I Expected

As crossover issues go, this one has a lot more character and depth that I expected (although, since this is the primary book of the main writer of ‘Fear Itself’, that probably shouldn’t be a surprise) and the use of Tony Stark in Asgard really hammers home (no pun intended) the consequences of this battle.  It’s good to see him out of his element, and as uncomfortable as it is to have Tony fall off the wagon, it’s probably about time for a relapse, from both a character and a tie-in perspective.  (That Avengers movie needs some sort of subplot, right?)  The issue bogs down a bit with all the rubbernecking (Iron Man watches Odin, Pepper watches television, Ms. Arbogast watches Pepper, Justine watches Paris, et al) and the character bits at Stark Resilient really don’t work to the story’s favor, oddly enough.  The main thrust of things is good, though, and Pepper is quickly turning into a hero as nuanced as Iron Man himself.  Salvador Larocca’s work is good here (though the close-up of a shocked expression gets a bit overworked this month), and even missteps like the Jim-Shooter-writing-Legion overuse of invective don’t drag things down enough to kill the momentum.  Invincible Iron Man #506 is a good issue, advancing the plot of the overarching crossover while maintaining it’s own subplots and identity, earning an impressive 3.5 out of 5 stars overall. 

Rating: ★★★½☆

Faithful Spoilerite Question Of The Day:  Tony’s sacrifice to Odin —  Brilliant plot point or awful sensationalism?



About Author

Once upon a time, there was a young nerd from the Midwest, who loved Matter-Eater Lad and the McKenzie Brothers... If pop culture were a maze, Matthew would be the Minotaur at its center. Were it a mall, he'd be the Food Court. Were it a parking lot, he’d be the distant Cart Corral where the weird kids gather to smoke, but that’s not important right now... Matthew enjoys body surfing (so long as the bodies are fresh), writing in the third person, and dark-eyed women. Amongst his weaponry are such diverse elements as: Fear! Surprise! Ruthless efficiency! An almost fanatical devotion to pop culture! And a nice red uniform.


  1. Eric (CMonocle) on

    Does it bother anyone that Tony is modeled after Josh Holloway? I’ve been enjoying this run, and I mostly dig Larocca’s art, but man… that just bugs me. Some panels look downright traced.


    Otherwise … Great review, Matthew!

  2. I wonder if they planned on having Tony working in the Asgardian forge both here and on TV at the same time virtually by design or if it was parallell thinking.

  3. In regards to Tony’s drinking, I think the “awesome vs awful” ranking will come in the fall-winter follow through out of this series. I hope this will lead to some interesting stories, but would not be surprised if it is simply waved away.

  4. Boo-hiss to having Stark fall off the wagon for a “good cause”.

    And if you’ve been dry for as long as this character is supposed to have been then it wouldn’t take much alcohol to knock you for a loop. It’s been almost 22 years since I drank and a bottle of wine would knock me on my country rear-end now. Of course, “I never drink…wine.”

  5. Justin Wawrzonek on

    “I’m also not fully clear on how much Tony drank, as we see him drain one bottle of wine and spend half the issue blurry.”

    I believe that he drank a bottle of Whiskey that Detroit Steel sent him a few issues back to mock him, so he was probably pretty fracked up.

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