By Kevin Mahadeo
Over the past year, Iron Man has been viciously attacked by the Skrull Empire, booted from his position as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, abandoned by some of his closest allies and hunted down by Norman Osborn. As if things weren't bad enough, INVINCIBLE IRON MAN writer Matt Fraction plans on literally and figuratively tearing the hero apart in "Stark Disassembled," beginning this November with issue #20.
"Without giving the ending of the previous arc, it continues naturally out of 'World's Most Wanted,'" says Fraction. "With Tony running the race he set out to run, Tony wins. But the problem is both Tony wins and Norman Osborn wins. I'll leave it to the reader to decide what that means exactly. This explores what might happen when all the king's horses and all the king's men can't quiet manage to put Humpty Dumpty back together again-because he doesn't want to get put back together again."
"World's Most Wanted" saw Iron Man grounded and on the run after Osborn falsely implicated the iron-clad Avenger in the Skrulls' Secret Invasion. In order to keep any valuable information away from the current questionable regime, Tony downloaded top secret S.H.I.E.L.D files-including the identities of registered heroes-into his brain. And as desperate times call for insanely desperate measures, the valiant hero began deleting parts of his mind to keep the information safe.
"He's making this ultimate sacrifice for the good of the many and I think that's the one of the reasons why Tony was never villainous," explains Fraction. "He made a difficult decision and he's owning the responsibility for it. You might have disagreed with him, but now that everything's gone off the rails Tony's the one cleaning it up single-handedly and is making sure no one is paying the price but him."
This ultimate sacrifice heavily implies the meaning of the "Disassembled" title. With Tony's mental state coming into question following "Most Wanted," the upcoming story asks who exactly will be under the armor. As his intelligence slowly failed him, Iron Man found himself unable to work
"Can I [say]? Yes. Will I? No," jokes Fraction. "Iron Man is more than just a suit. The essential Tony-ness of it all is what makes Iron Man. Rhodey is great and Pepper is great, but neither of them are Iron Man. Tony's genius is Iron Man."
The past year also saw Iron Man almost solely confined to the INVINCIBLE title, with very few interactions throughout the greater Marvel Universe. However, considering the storyline's subject matter, "World's Most Wanted" did see the appearance of many Marvel villains, including the Hood and his gang of criminal crazies as well as Namor, who all tried to bring Tony into custody. Fraction says "Stark Disassembled" follows this guest appearance tradition, but features quite a few more heroic cameos.
"We saw a lot of the bad guys in the last go around, but [this time] we see a lot of friends and family coming out of the woodwork as is to happen in vigils and wakes," teases the writer. As for which heroes exactly, Fraction coyly responds with Pepper Potts, Maria Hill and James Rhodes, all staple INVINCIBLE IRON MAN characters, but admits he's "trying really hard to get Jarvis, but we'll see what happens."
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