By Jim Beard
Every good run must come to an end-and the bad ones too.
Tony Stark's been on a very, very bad run, but he's finally coming up on a stopping point in September 16's INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #18, and looking to end the most difficult flight of his life.
"Nobody can rule the world all alone," explains series writer Matt Fraction, who has been putting Tony through his paces for nearly a year now with the "World's Most Wanted" storyline. "Tony needed a wake-up call that he's not the axis at the center of everything, and that his actions, throughout the course of his entire life, have repercussions on his present and in their way define his future. He needed to atone for a lifetime of
Reeling from the events of the Secret Invasion, Stark lost everything: his company, his armors, his reputation and his freedom. For supposedly failing to prepare for and recognize the Skrull infiltration, the government stripped Tony of all he held dear and then put Norman Osborn in charge in his place.
Lurching into a life on the run, the former Avenger has undergone a grim yet truncated replay of his former life. It's been one encounter after another: War Machine, Namor, Madame Masque, Pepper Potts, the Hood and more with the constant danger of Norman catching up to him. Should that happen, the secrets of Tony's fellow heroes will fall into the hands of Osborn's and the world will become a much, much nastier place.
Said secrets now residing only in his brain, Tony decided to dismantle his mind, piece by piece.
"'Spent,' I think, is the way to put it," offers Fraction on Stark's status as INVINCIBLE IRON MAN #18 opens. "Tony, Pepper, and Maria [Hill] have all been pushed to their limits and sacrificed more than they ever have before. There's no room for baggage here at the end; it's just raw animal
What kind of twists, turns or unexpected arrivals might readers expect in the penultimate chapter and finale of "Most Wanted"?
"Well, if we're doing our jobs right then the twists and unexpected arrivals in the finale won't be expected," says Fraction. "But I can tell you this: Tony vs. Norman. Hill vs. H.A.M.M.E.R. An ending the whole world will witness. And Tony Stark is going to win the race he set out to run no matter what. And so's Osborn, sort of."
And don't believe for one, single moment that the writer's done with messing with Iron Man. The end of "Most Wanted" only means more trials, tribulation and tension ahead according to Fraction:
"Our next story line, "Stark: Disassembled," is just that. Let's look back at the pieces that made the man, the company, and the hero, and see what we've got left to work with."
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