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Invincible Iron Man: The Five Nightmares (Marvel Comics, 2008; #1-7)

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Tony Stark is the head of S.H.I.E.L.D.  It’s his job to keep the world safe.  But when Ezekiel Stane—the son of his old nemesis Obadiah Stane—starts deploying repurposed Stark Tech in a series of suicide bombings, he brings Tony’s worst fears about the evolution of his tech into stark focus.

I don’t know why I haven’t dug into Fraction’s take on Iron Man before now.  He’s one of my favorite writers, and his penchant for quippy humor seems like a perfect fit for the character.  And while Tony certainly has his smarmy streak, what makes this volume sing is his earnestness.  Fraction gives a steady stream of Stark’s inner monologue, and his fear of what his tech can do in the wrong hands and his desperation to prevent that betray his humor as a defense mechanism.  The arc’s epilogue, from Peter Parker’s point of view as he and Ben Urich cover the story’s fallout, puts a button on how serious Tony’s outlook going forward really is.

Larroca, D’Armata, and Peru provide clean, realistic art for Invincible Iron Man.  It’s a good look for a book that trades in cutting-edge technology and S.H.I.E.L.D. ops.  It also means that facial expressions can be detailed and human—although there are spots where those faces are realistic enough that I felt some uncanny valley-style dissonance.

I realized recently that solo Iron Man books—especially before Bendis took over—are a significant knowledge gap for me.  But Invincible Iron Man was a fantastic jumping on point; not only is it easy to come into cold, but it’s an enjoyable read.  It’s a must-read for any fan of Iron Man.

Collected in

  • The Invincible Iron Man, Vol. 1: The Five Nightmares (#1-7)

  • The Invincible Iron Man Omnibus, Vol. 1 (#1-19)


Writer: Matt Fraction | Artist: Salvador Larroca | Colorists: Frank D’Armata, Stephane Peru | Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos | Assistant Editor: Alejandro Arbona | Editor: Warren Simons


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