With Iron Man 2 getting more publicity and press thanks to the new badass posters rolling off the mill, it's safe to say things are going well for Tony Stark and crew. However, I can't say the same for his comic book counterpart, who's facing a lot more problems than his head can handle... literally. Right now, Stark: Disassembled may be the hottest thing to get all the details on when it comes to all things Iron Man (and beyond), because it will determine the fate of golden avenger, and what comes after that. Matt Fraction has laid down all the cards, and all we readers have to do is hop on and follow.
The Invincible Iron Man #20
Written By: Matt Fraction
Illustrated By: Salvador Larraca
Fractured and lost within the deep recesses of his own mind, Tony Stark is helpless to help himself. As he continues to make sense of his current plight, his body fights and continues to hang on to life by a thread in the real world. Left with a holographic message recorded by Stark prior to his brain deletion, everyone close to Tony ponder on whether or not they are willing to restore the brilliant industrialist to normalcy. Conflicted and frustrated, Pepper Potts is unsure of her role to help her former boss, but the timely arrival of dear old comrades convinces her otherwise. With the procedure a go and under the watchful eye of Dr. Donald Blake, Tony's friends and allies get to work and hope for the best. Unaware to them, or Norman Osborn for that matter, is that Madam Masque wants Stark dead... and she's hired the Ghost to do the dirty work.
Alright, now that the summary has been noted, I have to say - HOT DAMN, this issue rocks!
Given everything Tony Stark has done to himself over the past year, Stark: Disassembled is the next step into putting Iron Man back in the map and creating a new legacy in which he is ensured a fruitful, if not fine, future ahead of the character in the Marvel Universe. Like I said, writer Matt Fraction has laid down all the cards in this story, and in this particular issue, we get to a see all the players and all of the elements put to work into making sure Tony Stark returns in one piece. The question is: will he return in one piece? Despite the pre-recorded message and all the best laid out plans, it's still Tony who's going to do the work from the inside and find a way to come back. That's going to be easier said than done, since we have a vegetable and a body unwilling to cooperate, let alone able to breathe on its own. I like the way Fraction demonstrates how Helpless Tony is at this point, and how his friends all gather to lend him a helping hand despite all the differences and conflicts each and everyone of them had with him in the past. On one hand, you have Pepper Potts, who has had her share of losses and pain that is indirectly Tony's fault, yet she runs to him in his time of need, willing to help him and providing him with the ultimate tool to help him get back on his feet. On another, you have his comrades and friends he's fought with for years, and the appearances of a big "sights for sore eyes" fills this book with more awesomeness than ever before. Lastly, you have the thorns willing to prick and give Tony a run for his life, and God knows what's going to happen in the next few issues. I'm certainly not going to spoil what happens, but one of the variant covers already did give out who's here, and all I can say is that is that it involves a mighty hammer and a mighty shield. 'Nuff said.
Illustrating Stark's darkest hour could have been the most difficult task yet for artist Salvador Larraca, but he pencils the job so well that you can really see the realism and emotion flying through the faces of every character front and center. In terms of detail, Larraca has illustrated the best Invincible Iron Man has to offer, and certainly this is one colorful issue ripe with all the drawings and big cheeses a Marvel fan could love and adore. Being a mainstay presence alongside Fraction since the series started, I wouldn't mind seeing this power duo linger on for as long as they can. They deliver quality and strength - great and aspiring attributes that fit in with the character of Iron Man so well.
As far as star power and appeal goes, Invincible Iron Man has it all, and despite the hype being presented by the upcoming Iron Man sequel, this is one story and book that's an entity of its own that powers up more curiosity and praise from readers. If you want something with enough drama and action, this is the book fopr you. With two issues down and three more to go, let's hope Stark: Disassembled goes well for Tony Stark right down til the end.
Score - 10/10