Oct 30, 2009

Adamantium Arcs - World's Most Wanted

6:04 PM

The Invincible Iron Man #8-19
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D'Armata

For me this 12-part story is on par with DC's zombie soap-opera multi-tie-in super event. If The Blackest Night is #1 story of the year, World' Most Wanted is a close #2; maybe even #1B.

In this story, we see Tony Stark on the run from Norman Osborne. The disgraced Tony Stark is removed from power and Osborne is viewed as the leader/protector/hero of the free world through his own self-promotion & manipulation. The former pumpkin-bomb-throwin' Goblin wants all S.H.I.E.L.D files as well as the Superhuman Registration Database from Tony. This database contains all the identities of registered superhumans. It doesn't take a level 12 genius to realize that it would be

insane to have this information in the hands of the Osborne regime. So Stark downloads the information into the only safe place in the world, his brain. For the greater good, Tony decides to destroy this information. This would entail him making the ultimate sacrifice, the destruction of his mind. Osborne finds this out and sends out a worldwide manhunt for Stark, making him a fugitive from the law. He has to transform himself to one of the smartest people in the world to one of zero intelligence. Moreover, with each piece of his mind gone is his ability to use higher end Iron Man armors. At the end, he is limited to the use of his Mach 1 armor, the very first Iron Man suit.

There are poetic plots & pleasant role-reversals within this story. With the dismantling of his mind piece by piece, we start to see Stark in a different light. He ceases to be the playboy/introverted genius. Instead, he shows heart by sacrificing himself to atone for past wrongs. Furthermore, he comes to depend on his friends who all come to his aid: Pepper Potts, Maria Hill, & Black Widow just to name a few.

The most enlightening role-reversal twist is the part of Pepper Potts.
Not only does she play an integral part in helping Stark, she battles Madame Masque (and wins), outsmarts Osborne, rescues Black Widow & Maria Hill, infiltrates Avengers Towers and uploads a virus into the H.A.M.M.E.R mainframe. She goes from secretary to a gritty and brave hero who is the heart and soul of this story.

All protagonists are pushed to their limits and sacrifice more than they ever had before in order to survive for the greater good.

Stark wins but at a price. After the battle with Osborne he is left in a vegetative state. At the end, both sides got what they wanted. Tony destroyed the information. Osborne destroyed Tony.

The excellent writing is provided by Matt Fraction with the beautiful art of Salvador Larroca. For Fraction, I think it is his best work of the year filled with plot twists, surprises, action, character cameos, and humor. I am glad Iron Man was not involved in a whole lot of Dark Reign tie-ins. It gave more focus on the actual plot and characters without being lost in other titles. Each issue left me waiting in anticipation for the next one. With the end of World's Most Wanted, that feeling still persists with the next story arc, Stark:Disassembled.

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