By Joshua S Hill
The way things pile up is probably not a new conundrum for comic book fans, especially those who have a hard time a) saying no and/or b) saying goodbye. The proverbial “stack” has become much less proverbial and more … verbial? Whether the stack is compromised of issues, TPB’s or a mixture of both with a healthy helping of prose books thrown in, the problem is the same each time:
Where oh where is the time to read it all?
Well, I finally found some time stuffed down behind the couch-cushions and decided to read through Invincible Iron Man volume 5, including the storylines “The Five Nightmares,” “World’s Most Wanted,” and “Stark: Disassembled.”
I really enjoy reading through a whole story, that’s why waiting for Patrick Rothfuss to finish ‘A Wise Man’s Fear’ is slowly killing me inside and why I refuse to read Invincible and Captain America in anything but the great big hardcover omnibus size (and let’s not mention the fact that I only just found out that there was an Invincible Iron Man omnibus from Marvel). So it’s no surprise that I really enjoyed reading through the first 24 issues of Invincible Iron Man.
And let’s be honest with ourselves. I could get distracted and talk about how in issue 25 Pepper Potts seemingly forgets that she was getting frustrated being Tony’s “girl-Friday” and I could mention the weird Hammer twins who are actually mother and daughter which just make it even freakier.
But I won’t.
Because those things detract from what I felt was a really fantastic story, and one that led me to asking one simple question: is Tony Stark still a dickhead?
And I don’t mean “is Tony Stark a dickhead anymore considering that he’s wiped his head back to pre-Civil War Tony Star?” because that’s just a plot point that isn’t really going to figure unless they want it to. Let’s just deal with the Tony Stark who went out of his way to ensure that Norman-frickin-Osborne didn’t and couldn’t get his hands on all the juicy gossip inside of his head.
Straight up, it’s a pretty neat move, running all across the world, jumping from one Iron Man suit back down the technological-evolutionary line to another Iron Man suit while simultaneously wiping your brain of every piece of information that makes you “you,” as well as depriving the bad guy of … everything. That’s straight-up heroics there, and you can’t deny it. Whether Tony brought it on himself or not, the point stands.
But that’s about where it hits the wall, isn’t it, because even through it all, Tony still pulls off some pretty dickheadish moves. First he sleeps with Maria Hill and then he sleeps with Pepper! He leaves Pepper to fight off the crazy bitch, sends Maria into heavens knows where to get his hard drive, gives his friends the chance to not bring him back from the dead, steals Pepper’s new repulsor toy for himself and then manages to forget he ever screwed everyone over by forgetting to back himself up.
I mean honestly Tony, Reed’s right; would it have been too hard to set up an automated backup solution? I hear Amazon S3 is really cheap these days! But no, that would deprive us of the “I actually purposefully didn’t back myself up because I wanted to forget all the crap that I’ve done to you all” storyline we’ll get sometime next year.
And what about Pepper and Tony, and let’s throw in Maria and the who knows how many women Tony has on speed dial for good measure. Is that just going to be the merry go round of the Marvel universe, or at least one of the several? How many times will Pepper let herself fall for Tony before she just throws herself off of one of the many Stark-scrapers.
OK. That last bit is a bit of personal ranting because I’m one of those ones that like that Reed and Sue are married, got upset when Peter and Mary-Jane were split and, obviously, would like Pepper to be with Tony.
The real point of all of this though is to answer the question whether Tony Stark is still a dickhead, and it would appear the answer is a resounding yes! The evidence is all there!
But he’s that dickhead you like and respect but frustrates you because you like and respect him despite the fact he’s a dickhead! Tony is Marvel’s Batman. He has the proverbial kryptonite in the lead casing just in case Thor goes crackers and the files on every superhero and the money and power to do whatever he wants. He exists as a dickhead for a reason, and as much as it might seem contrived at times, the stories are better for it.
Behind it all though is 24 issues of really good comics that had me spellbound and hooked. Kudos to Matt Fraction, and kudos to Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata for giving us a book that actually made me think.