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

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This is what happens when Techland goes to the comic book store: we end up discussing what we picked up. This week, Evan Narcisse, Graeme McMillan and Douglas Wolk talk about The Invincible Iron Man #500, Supergirl #60 and Wolverine and Jubilee #1.

EVAN: Y’know, I didn’t love Iron Man #500 when I first read it, and then I read it again. And again. And again. Two things happened: The rhythm of the labyrinthine structure became more apparent each time, and I was able to push aside my own fanboy biases to really enjoy what Matt Fraction and company put together.

(More on Iron Man: All the Anniversaries)

DOUGLAS: I liked it right away, and after my own multiple re-readings, I like it even better. This is Fraction’s own “Days of Future Past”–between this and the Mandarin story last year, he’s setting up a lot of stuff for the long haul, dropping a ton of seeds for stories to come. (Who’s the Mandarin’s “master”?) I also think it’s pretty fascinating that Iron Man 2.0–the Nick Spencer/Barry Kitson War Machine title that’s previewed here–is so obviously indebted to the look and feel of the Fraction/Larroca Iron Man.

GRAEME: Yeah, the Spencer/Kitson IM2.0 preview felt very much in keeping with Fraction’s take on the franchise, which is itself in keeping with the movie version. Synergy in action, I guess, although it also really reminded me of Spencer’s opening to T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #1. The guy likes cross-time cutting with mysterious forces, I guess.

I’m with Evan; I wasn’t that impressed with this on first read, and only warmed up to it after multiple re-reads – and even then, I still think I’m probably getting less out of it than you two. I appreciate its ambition, but also may be too close to where the ambition has been taken from, all too recently, I think (Morrison’s Batman #666, anyone?).

DOUGLAS: Well, the granddaddy of all of those is the Adult Legion story, back in the ’60s. But it can be done well or badly–Justice League of America #0 is maybe the textbook instance of “badly”–and I also thought this was a pretty neat story on its own, beyond all the setup for future stories.

EVAN: I initially was turned off by the lack of any recognizable Marvel Universe trappings in the alternate future segment, but what sold me on the story is how classical that part feels. We get the House of Stark divided against itself–daughter Ginny fighting as part of the underground resistance against son Howard, who’s leading the War Machine kill squads–on an Earth ruled by the Mandarin with Tony Stark as his personal slave. Fraction’s made Iron Man a really tragic figure, and this story highlights the main throughline for that tragedy, which is how the intellect of his Tony Stark is a fearsome, double-edged thing with practically a life of its own. The other consistent part of Fraction’s execution has been how it’s impossible to put any technological genie back in the bottle in this hyper-connected age. It gives things this sense of inevitability that even someone as smart as Tony is hard-pressed to handle.

DOUGLAS: I read the plot a little bit differently–what I got, and I may have been wrong, is that Howard is Tony’s son (named after his grandfather), and Ginny is Howard’s daughter (perhaps named after her grandmother–she’s got red hair, and Virginia is Pepper’s real name), and that they’re not quite as divided as they look (“the charade is done, dad, let’s make it look good”). And, by the way, if Tony’s 77 years old in the future sequence and 35 now, and Howard’s 41 in the future sequence, it’s entirely possible that Howard was conceived very recently. Perhaps even during “World’s Most Wanted.” Oh boy.

(More on The Comic Book Club: Spawn and Casanova)

GRAEME: Count me in for Douglas’ reading. Doesn’t Ginny even call Howard “Dad” during their chase sequence? Also, it continues Fraction’s running theme through Casanova, Thor and most definitely Iron Man, of children acting out against their fathers. (So far in IIM, we’ve had the children of Obediah Stane and Justin Hammer, so obviously the son of Stark had to make an appearance; bringing his own daughter in just completes the cycle. Also, in a metaphorical sense, all of the post-Stark tech the villains are using make them the children of Iron Man, in a way.)

DOUGLAS: And “The Bastard Sons of Wilbur Day,” on top of that!

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