REVIEW: Invincible Iron Man #527

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Or – “This Is The End, Beautiful Friends…”

Matt Fraction’s Iron Man has been my favorite take on the character since Mark Bright and David Michelinie completed the original Armor Wars back in the day.  (It was literally Young Zack’s lifetime ago…)  Now that Fraction and Larocca are leaving, there is the promise of yet another new Iron Man #1 on the horizon, but nobody promised that Tony Stark would actually survive to be the one in the armor, did they?  Your Major Spoilers review awaits!

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #527
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Editor: Mark Paniccia
Publisher: Marvel Comics
Cover Price: $3.99

Previously, in Invincible Iron Man: Tony Stark has been imprisoned by the Mandarin, his own Extremis-enhanced body under Mandy’s complete control, forced to work alongside his own worst enemies.  (Though, technically, like the lead singer of Lit, Tony is his own worst enemy.)  Having escaped the Mandarin’s clutches, Tony Stark now has to pick up the pieces of his shattered life and the company that he put all his time and energy into…

A RETURN TO THE DAYS OF OLD…

This issue opens with an interesting revelation, as a madman tries to build an explosive device out of Stark’s arc power cells, only to find that the technology has not only stopped working, but that it has called home to Daddy.  As Iron Man busts in on the would-be assassin, ruminating about the fact that he wrote all of it into the licensing agreement for his techonology, including the expectation that Iron Man might come bust your head in if you misuse it.  “What, you don’t actually READ all those words before you click “I Agree” and start using stuff, right?”  Heh.  Fraction has spent the better part of the last year of this book building up to a massive confrontation with Mandarin, setting up interlocking plot threads and madness from all sides, but it’s good to see the characters get a bit of a breather.  Iron Man is even wearing his old red-and-gold Mark VI armor (the one from The Secret Wars), as his latest suits were all compromised by Mandarin’s treachery.  After a tense interview with Maria Hill of S.H.I.E.L.D., Tony Stark shuts himself off from the world, dealing with what he eventually realizes is a bout of depression.

“I JUST…  I’VE GOT THIS ENNUI…”

The second half of the issue shows the impact of recent events (and, really, the entire Fraction run) on the characters, as Rhodey and Pepper come to grips with the loss of their armors, Bethany Cabe realizes that she may have compromised the life of Justine Hammer, and Tony works diligently on a new project.  Sal Larocca’s wonderful art makes every moment fascinating to read about, especially a moment where Iron Man has just defeated a giant robot and sits with his face in his hands.  The last moments of Justine Hammer are suitably horrifying, and we even get a cute moment where Pepper walks in on Tony in the bath, with a lovely punchline at the end.  Stark eventually figures out what he needs to do, calling his friends and employees together to make an announcement:  He’s going to fly his new armor out into space to get his head together.  Things end with Iron Man telling his friends to step back, as “Things are about to get bright” and launching himself off into the next big adventure, literally and metaphorically…

THE BOTTOM LINE:  A FINE FAREWELL.

I have to say, I have been a fan of Fraction’s work on Iron Man, and I am very leery of what comes next (*coughGregLandtracescough*), but I’m happy to say that this issue serves as a nice bookend for all that Fraction and Larocca have done with the world of Iron Man.  Things are put back in their proper places without a blatant use of the reset button (like the one in this month’s issue of Avengers) and Tony Stark even gets to return to his feckless, womaizinag ways.  Invincible Iron Man #527 serves as a send-off for the Golden Avenger’s most engaging series in years, leaving me smiling, avoiding the bittersweet that often comes with these kind of endings, earning 4 out of 5 stars overall  Here’s hoping that Gillen and Land can keep up this sort of quality…

Rating: ★★★★☆

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