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New York Comic Con 2010

NYCC 2010: Invincible Iron Man #500

Matt Fraction brings about a landmark issue for the Armored Avenger

By Jim Beard

A wind of change blows through Tony Stark's already-turbulent life as Marvel Comics proudly releases the groundbreaking INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500 this January.

The Armored Avenger's core title refigures its numbering to take into account the hero's previous titles and to celebrate this milestone in his adventures. Writer Matt Fraction sees the issue as both a jumping-on point for new readers and the beginning of a new story for longtime fans.

"It's a perfectly fine place for new readers to plug into the series," he says. "It starts in the present day with Tony Stark trying to fill in some of the blanks in his missing memory. He's found plans for a project he and a promising young scientist had been working on but, now, Tony can't remember a single thing about it and the plans don't make any sense.

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500 cover by Salvador Larroca
"So he starts by finding the kid that was helping in its creation: Peter Parker."

Fraction notes that the tale encompasses not only Tony's current situation but also his own past as well as his father's and a look into part of Iron Man's forthcoming destiny.

"From there we go 40 years into the future, when INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500 would actually be published if we weren't renumbering, and see the effects that those plans have, not just on the world, but on three generations of Starks," he continues. "So we get a portrait of the family Stark after the apocalypse. Tony built something maybe he shouldn't. And it affects his future-son and future-granddaughter."

Memory gaps will plague our hero, according to the writer, a scenario that may remind Tony-and readers-of his days as an alcoholic.

"I suspect it's a largely similar phenomenon to drinking in a blackout," says Fraction of Iron Man's amnesia. "You wake up one morning and discover you've laid your life waste in ways great and small but have no recollection of it and have to move forward and figure it out while everyone else around you is all too painfully aware."

INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #500 also plays host to one of Tony Stark's most persistent and deadly enemies, the Mandarin. Fraction's quickly discounts any rumors that the ring-wielding villain's aims once again center around the destruction of Iron Man, though.

"Oh, he doesn't want to destroy Tony," he claims. "Not at all-he needs to save Tony. And he'll succeed this time because I'm writing him!"

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Why are they renumbering every series? It makes no sense. I understand the symbolic meaning behind it. By doing this it makes it harder for collectors to keep track of their books. As well, it makes it harder of new reader to get into the books. All I can say is hopefully the story and art stay to the quality we've come to expect.