Invincible Iron Man #19

Story by
Art by
Salvador Larroca
Colors by
Frank D'Armata
Letters by
Joe Caramagna
Cover by
Marvel Comics

With the conclusion of "World's Most Wanted," the cracks begin to show in the foundation of Norman Osborn's Dark Empire. Tony Stark's master plan -- before he subjected himself to the part of the plan where he wipes out his own mind -- reaches its conclusion. If Stark were not so dim-witted in this issue, I would have to say his plan had been executed with pure brilliance.

This is one of those issues of a title where everything appears to be coming together and the threads that were dangling for months find a conclusion, making what was once presumed to be a misstep seems like a stroke of genius. Fraction has done a magnificent job of making this story carry the tone of the "Iron Man" movie while taking the story far beyond the capabilities of Hollywood.

Salvador Larocca deftly interprets Fraction's work. The two have worked on this title for such a long time that I can imagine they must be able to finish the story from just a handful of shared thoughts. Larocca's photo-reflective style is appropriate for this title, and it adds to the big screen feel of the story.

As mentioned before, this story wraps up plot threads and subplots from previous issues, but it also plays into what awaits the Marvel Universe. The conclusion to this issue feels much less like an ending and quite a bit like a beginning. While it is not the most stunning cliffhanger, it is an ending that begs to not be spoiled, but ensures every fanboy a moment of the silent "Yes!" accompanied by a fist pump in the air. This title is one of the best of the best -- the most critical for the company's cross-media efforts -- for Marvel right now and Fraction proves why more than once through the course of this single issue.

I am curious how quickly the fallout from this issue will turn radioactive. The Marvel Universe seems to be fluid of late, with disassembling leading to invasions, which in turn lead to a dark reign, but it seems as though more change is on the way. The path Fraction set for the change to come is impressive and enjoyable. As the character of Iron Man begins to heat up in the public consciousness (truly, aren't we due for a teaser trailer for "Iron Man 2" by now?) this title is heating up for Marvel readers.

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