The Comic Book Club: Iron Man #500, Supergirl and Wolverine/Jubilee

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GRAEME: Howard being conceived during “World’s Most Wanted” is a great catch, and now I’m going to wait and see if Pepper starts getting sick in the mornings. I initially assumed it’d be a Stark/Hammer sibling, for some reason.

EVAN: So, I probably got the lineage thing wrong but it all still works thematically. And yeah, it really has snuck up on me how much kids are figuring into Fraction’s Iron Man run.

DOUGLAS: As the idiom goes, you can’t unring a bell, and one thing we keep seeing in the Fraction/Larroca Iron Man is that everything Tony has ever done has unleashed demons of one kind or another, and they keep coming back in even more dangerous forms. That’s the key to their version of the character, I think: that he’s brilliant and intensely motivated to do good, but it’s always a short-term fix that makes things worse in the long term, and the short-term fixes always involve out-thinking his former self and causing a lot of collateral damage.

GRAEME: It’s a take that really makes sense – that all tech is the atom bomb, or has atom bomb potential, and that it forces Stark to continually face his demons without really facing up to them. I find it interesting that one of his five nightmares is someone doing terrible things with his tech, but it takes Peter Parker to come up with the “So build in something to shut down the tech.” Stark has no problem coming up with the great power, but really has to fake the great responsibility bit.

(More on TIME.com: The Comic Book Club: Batman: The Dark Knight and Hellboy)

EVAN: The Spider-Man stuff took me by surprise, and I especially dug how those sequences illustrated how Peter Parke’sr a different kind of smart from Tony. The fact that Peter came up with the design breakthrough in the story shows how his braininess is a more instinctual, improvisatory thing compared to Tony’s more reckless genius. And the identity reveal fake-out made me laugh out loud.

DOUGLAS: Me too. I think it’s pretty brass-stoned of Fraction to make Peter Parker a significant supporting player in Iron Man–this and #7, which also guest-starred Spider-Man, are really the only two stand-alone issues we’ve seen in the series, and Fraction’s version of Peter is fantastic (and probably closer to Bendis’s than to anybody else’s interpretation).

GRAEME: Are we supposed to assume that Tony worked out that Peter is Spider-Man? Because, after “Remember the Spider,” I feel like he’d have to be pretty dumb NOT to.

DOUGLAS: Look at the first panel where Tony gets back to the hotel room: Peter is still putting on his shirt over his Spider-Man costume.

GRAEME: Also: The reveal of what “remember the spider” meant in the future sequences was really well done. It worked for me in a way that a lot of the rest of the writing this issue didn’t, making sense without being forced or the writer being all-too-present.

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Can we say something about the art? Nathan Fox’s Paul Pope impression was a lot of fun, even if he brings half-Pope this time around (the linework, but not the layouts) and the coloring muddies it slightly, and Kano’s light, delicate line really made the Ginny sequences for me. I’m not so on board with Sal Larocca’s current day stuff, which still looks too static and photo-referenced for my liking, and Carmine Di Giandomenico’s future Tony really didn’t work for me. I think it was the moustache.

EVAN: But, really, that cover gallery?! “Let’s reprint every Iron Man cover at an impossible to read size! That’s a great idea!” No, a great idea would’ve been pin-ups and a link to a slideshow with all those covers so you can see Heck, Bright and all the great IM artists of the past at a size that does ‘em justice.

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