Thursday, February 3, 2011

Iron Man #500.1

Count me among those who are tired of the "creative numbering" that pops up at comics companies - the issues numbered "0," "1,000,000" or "-1" - it's tiring and messes up my orderly filing system.

So here's Marvel, trotting out a series of issues with a ".1" added on the number. Sheesh!

However, the idea's not a bad thing. The comics are (apparently) designed to present the origin and background of the heroes to bring new readers up to speed.

Of course, that means it's old news to us old-timers. However, give writer Matt Fraction credit for coming up with an interesting angle on the tired "here's my story" issue for Iron Man #500.1.

He accomplishes this by following Tony Stark to an Alcoholics Anonymous meeting, where Tony gets up and tells his story, using the classic "he's saying one thing while the illustrations show he's thinking something else."

That makes it interesting for those of us who have been following for quite a while, but if the idea is to catch up readers who are new to the series, I suspect it fails to convey the necessary information.

Of course, Iron Man's origin is well known thanks to the popular feature film, but lots of incidents have happened between his comic book origin and modern times, and I doubt a new reader would have any idea what was going on in some panels (the "Teen Tony" panel threw me, and I remember those stories - though not fondly).

The art by Salvador Larroca is quite good as always, although he seems constrained by the small panels. Still, great stuff here.

So, a solid issue - though I'm not sure it achieves its purpose. I suspect longtime fans will enjoy the flashbacks more than new readers, but maybe that's just me.

It feels more like an evergreen "fill-in" issue that a special event, so just an average grade from me. The regular title (the one without decimal places) is much, much better.

Grade: B-


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