INTERVIEW & PREVIEW: Matt Fraction talks about “The Future” of IRON MAN #521

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:


  1. I really liked the first 4-5 volumes then dropped off after Siege when I dropped off all other comics. Now that I’ve been back in comics for a year thanks to the New 52 I’m also back on Iron Man. I heard the middle might have been a little bumpy but I love the way all these threads are suddenly coming together for a giant epic story. The last three issues have been really good. I can’t wait to read the entire thing collected in an omnibus or two. I think everything will come together similarly to how all the seemingly disparate Fantastic Four stories came together in Hickman’s run.
    And lastly, regardless of your thoughts on the writing or art, it is very admirable in today’s world for a writer and artist to stay together on one book this long. I love that, wish we would see it more. Congrats Fraction and Larroca!

  2. I’ve been reading this book since Fraction took over. It was a great starting point after seeing the Iron Man movie and has continued to be a great book (especially the 12 part Most Wanted storyline in the Dark Reign).

    I wish Ifanboy would cover the book more, but I understand that the regular crew aren’t big fans of the book. Everyones allowed to have their own opinion.

    • They’ve covered it many times on the podcast with generally very favorable reviews. I think those reading it are reading it in trades, so it comes in a little late sometimes.

  3. It was a little rocky in the middle of the run but I think it’s been really on track, art and story for 5 or 6 issues now. Since just after Fear Itself ended pretty much I guess. I hope on Lacrocca’s next project he explores his kind of weird Moebius style that he uses here for flashbacks, it’s fantastic.

  4. Great book. I jumped off issues but will be picking up the oversized hardcovers.

  5. ive been on this book from the first issue . man i love it i put it above brubakers cap run to be honest. i feel they sustained a level of good books for all the issues except the fear itself xover

    • Actually I thought the Fear Itself crossover was a pretty decent story and BY FAR the best book of the whole event. Tony Stark finally falling of the wagon in Asgard of all places was hilarious and enabled Fraction to explore the last part of Tony’s character that he hadn’t touched upon. Drunk Tony.

    • i think Journey Into Mystery was the ONLY good thing about fear itself.

    • i think that arc was needed to get to where we are now

  6. This is one of my favourite Marvel titles it quite regularly is a POTW for me, & I will miss the mighty pairing of Fraction & Larroca when they come off of this, which I will then leave with them since I am not too fond of Gillen & Land!

    I rate Fraction/Larroca’s entire run on Invincible Iron Man & highly recommend anyone to get the trades or wait for an omnibus collection!

  7. Oh & #521 is not out in September it is out in July, since as they’ve been doing over the last few months two issues a month so in September would be 524 & 525!

  8. this run will be missed by me more than brubaker on cap. ive loved fractions ironman run. i know the ifanbase has been down on fraction but ive loved his ironman from issue 1#. having said that i,do look forward to gillen and land on ironman love art

  9. Just started reading Fractions Iron Man run, on the ‘Most Wanted’ story now, absolutely loving it.