A long, extended run on a single comic title by a writer/artist team is a rarity these days. The shining example most recently has been The Invincible Iron Man with Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca on the book for 4 years now after beginning in 2008. With the September solicitations, Marvel Comics unveiled the info behind The Invincible Iron Man #521, the first issue of the next story arc, “The Future” which may bring the end to that award winning extended run. We got the chance to catch up with Matt Fraction to discuss what “The Future” may bring, as well as give you a sneak peek at 5 pages from the issue below.
iFanboy: The Invincible Iron Man #521 kicks off a new arc, “The Future” and the book has been building up to a face off between Iron Man and the Mandarin after machinations between the two. How has been getting into the mind of the Mandarin and planning such an extended conflict between the two?
Matt Fraction: It’s great — it’s taken me forever to get here, it feels like, but i suppose that’s because it has. Building to this ultimate Tony/Mandarin war, this kind-of third iteration of Armor Wars, was always the destination. I’ve had a lot of time to think about it, and it’s a lot of fun to play the finale of this long game of chess between the two.
iF: The Iron Man Annual #1 from 2 years ago is emerging to be a very important setup piece for your story. What went into laying the groundwork years ahead and how have you and Larroca been able to stick to the plan? Have things gone in directions you didn’t intend when you initially laid the Mandarin groundwork?
MF: I knew where I was going. Not necessary how I was going to get there every step of the way, but I knew where the book was going from day one. And it goes back that far. So… yeah, I dunno, I just figured it out and wrote it. I’ve gotten there in ways that surprised me, I hit moments I wasn’t expecting or left things by the roadside or found the road wasn’t underneath me anymore, necessarily, but… yeah, it’s all been more or less on-plan.
iF: The cast of the book has expanded, on both the good and evil sides. What characters have been the most fun to integrate into the story and which characters, heroes and villains, would you like to give more time to if you could?
MF: ANY of those villains — the old rogues — I love. The sillier, on the surface, the better. Blizzard, Meltdown, all that. And Mandarin himself whom was so easily dismissed as a racist stereotype and all that. As a nearly-lifelong Iron Man fan, I wanted to my best to ramp up one of the most fun rogues galleries in comics and to build Tony Stark’s archnemesis (archnemeses, even…!) up for a modern era.
iF: In comics these days, the concept of a “Run” on a book is rare, but you and Salvador Larroca have been the exception with your long run on Invincible Iron Man. How does it feel to look back and see such an accomplishment with such an extended run?
MF: Tiring. And I feel a lot of gratitude — to Salva, Frankie, and Joe Caramanga — and the zillions of editors and assistants we’ve had over the years. I’m the luckiest guy on the luck bus.
iF: In a recent interview on Word Balloon, you confirmed that we’re near the end of your story on Iron Man, given the name of the upcoming arc, “The Future”, what can you tell us about Iron Man’s future as well as your own?
MF: I think anyone that’s been reading the book can see we’ve been coming here since day one, pretty much. And who can tell anyone ANYTHING about the future? It’s unpredictable. Anything can happen.
The Invincible Iron Man #521 comes out in September. Check out these 5 pages from the issue: