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Invincible Iron Man #521: Review

Jul 2012
Matt Fraction, Salvador Larroca

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Story Name:

The future 1: The demolished man

Review & Comments

4 stars

Invincible Iron Man #521 Review by (July 21, 2012)
Titanomechs are giant tentacled robots that Stark invented in his head, and that we saw in his coma dreams in Stark Disassembled. #501 showed us a future in which Mandarin was using such things. Last issue revealed that Mandy has had access to Tony's brain since Stark Disassembled, so maybe that's how he knew about Titanomechs, and could get Zeke Stane to try to build one. The person I identify as Bethany Cabe might just be Pepper Potts out of armour. Possibly Beth actually followed through on her resignation from Stark Resilient in #519. In #519 Justine Hammer said that they covered up Doug Johnson's death and that they officially buried an empty coffin, both in the same panel. This must mean they lied about *how* he died, though in what way is unclear. I'd think the most damaging thing to Hammer Industries would be that Sasha Hammer tore Doug's head off last issue (if that's what she actually did), which isn't mentioned here. Vibro is another of the army of villains that Ezekiel Stane upgraded for Mandarin in #513. We haven't seen him since then, so as far as we know he hasn't been jailed. So was he *leading* the jailbreak here, or had he turned up to free other prisoners (for unfathomable Mandarin reasons)?

This is part 1 of at least 5 issues of The Future. The issue title The Demolished Man comes from a classic SF book by Alfred Bester. The cover shows Jim Rhodes/Iron Man fighting what is probably a Titanomech, which may happen in a future issue. Last issue's cover was also misrepresentative, showing Tony Stark in the new Iron Man armour. The publisher's blurb for this comics referred to Rescue, IM 2.0 and War Machine teaming up, which is misleading and confusing. Rescue and Rhodes do meet, but hardly get the chance to actually team up. Rhodes used to be War Machine, and his last series in that guise was called Iron Man 2.0. Maybe Marvel are now using IM2.0 to refer to Jim's new suit, but this is the only place I've seen it so used. We're in the middle of a long period without Tony Stark in the Iron Man armour. He quit in #516, and preview info indicates he'll still be out of it in #525. It's also a long time in Marvel time. The splash pages used to say how long it had been since he had a drink in Fear Itself. On that basis #516-520 only covered 4 days. But now we've skipped 6 months. This makes this sequence awkward to position in the rest of the Marvel Universe. Did lots of Avengers stuff, including the current Avengers vs X-Men all happen within the 20 days leading up to #516? And what are the Avengers and others doing during Stark's stay with Mandarin? Also, to keep their world so that readers can relate to it, Marvel has it always basically using current technology. But (Stark) Resilient is in the process of transforming the world way beyond what we know. (Anyone remember a series called Fantastic Four: Big Town which showed what the world would be like if guys like Reed Richards had really been inventing stuff since the 1960's?.) Combining this with my previous point, I wonder if this whole storyline will end with time-travel wiping it out?


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #521 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
This issue has 4 interleaved strands which I shall unravel here.

It's 6 months after the last issue. Tony Stark is working for Mandarin in Mandarin City, but not mixing well with the villains who are also there.

Mandarin wants Stark to build Titanomechs for him. Ezekiel Stane tried, but failed in #516. Stark tells Mandarin he needs certain materials to make them work. Mandarin treats Stark's manner as insubordination, and punishes him. But will presumably get hold of the stuff on the list.

Tony returns to work, where he is 'helped' by Zeke Stane. Zeke has had his IQ drastically reduced by Mandarin since his rebellion in #518-519. From their conversation I guess that some of the things on the list are for Tony's own secret purposes. And they can only hope Mandarin doesn't work that out.

Zeke is the only one who'll eat with Tony in the canteen. Melter tries to cause trouble, but Stark holds his own until Melter starts to use his power. This is forbidden within Mandarin City, and Mandarin remotely triggers the Omega protocol. This appears to give Melter a severe headache, but the other villains say it will set off the bomb in his chest.

Tony uses his repulsor chest implant to save Melter. Mandarin isn't happy about this, and has Stark fitted with an armoured vest that will prevent him from using his repulsor device like that again. And threatens to kill Stane as well as Stark if he tries to remove it.

Meanwhile his old company, now just called Resilient, has continued expanding the use of repulsor technology. Now Carson Wyche presents the Swarm, their answer to cloud computing, a host of molecular processors that will follow you around, and communicate with other Swarms.

Afterwards the team (Mrs Arbogast, Tim Cababa, Bethany Cabe, Walter Macken, Carson Wyche and Splitlip the Dark Elf) gather to celebrate. And josh gay Tim about a date he's just had. Everyone is pretty much recovered from Spymaster's attack. Tim is in physical therapy, and Carson has a walking stick.

In the 3rd strand the events surrounding the original Detroit Steel Doug Johnson are having an impact on the fortunes of the Hammer girls. It has all come out how they covered up his death in Paris in Fear Itself, and then tried to cover up how he reappeared and ran amok in their HQ last issue. Their ally Gen'l Babbage informs them that the government is cancelling Hammer Industries' contract, and all the Detroit Steel Corps have been recalled from their roles propping up dodgy dictators overseas. And then he commits suicide.

Justine Hammer plans to regroup. Blame Babbage for everything, and concentrate on US business deals for now. She expects overseas demand for Detroit Steel protection will return as their other allies Mandarin and Stane continue to cause trouble. He daughter Sasha blows up at the mention of her boyfriend Zeke's name, because he isn't answering her phone calls. She obviously doesn't know what's happened to him in Mandarin City.

Lastly we follow the new 'Iron Man' (secretly James Rhodes), who is stopping a jailbreak led by Vibro. Iron Man takes down Vibro, and is then congratulated by Pepper Potts in her Rescue armour. Rhodey doesn't let Pepper know who he is, and leaves her to keep the other escapees under control until they can be returned to their cells.

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Barberoids 1 cover original artwork on ebay

Salvador Larroca
Salvador Larroca
Frank D'Armata
Salvador Larroca (Cover Penciler)
Salvador Larroca (Cover Inker)
Frank D'Armata (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Mark Paniccia.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts

(Pepper Hogan)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

Plus: Bethany Cabe, Carson Wyche, Detroit Steel Corps, Ezekiel Stane, General Babbage, Justine Hammer, Melter (Bruno Horgan), Mrs. Arbogast, Sasha Hammer, Splitlip, Tim Cababa, Vibro, Walter Macken.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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