Invincible Iron Man issue 500 features two connected plots. In one, there’s the Tony Stark we all know and love chatting with Peter Parker then going off to fight young rebels who have cobbled together technological weapons loosely based on Stark’s own designs. In the second plot, we see Tony Star as a decrepit yet resourceful superhero once again battling his arch-nemesis Mandarin. As it turns out, the choices he makes with Peter Parker long ago might save the planet.
Chronology in superhero comics is always tricky. For example, it’s hard to say if the events in Batman happen before or after the adventures of the Caped Crusader in Detective Comics, or if there’s a correlation at all. This becomes even more complex when we’re introduced to flashbacks, flash forwards, possible futures and alternate histories.
My inner nerdlinger has to say, “Wait a minute, in the Avengers reboot, the future Tony Stark was shown as a resistant refugee in a world dominated by Ultron…” Such geeky quibbles though should be silenced forever. In issue 500, it’s never specified if the “future” we’re glimpsing is a possible future, like the ones Cable jauntily leaps in and out of, or if it’s merely a doosmday scenario Tony Stark is playing out in his head. The writer Matt Fraction is more interested in telling a cool story than getting mired in continuity debates.
That’s exactly what Invincible Iron Man issue 500 is, a cool story. That the issue is 72 pages long and features the art of Salvador Larocca plus several impressive guest artists doesn’t hurt either.
If you like the enigmatic future storyline of Invincible Iron Man 500, you might also like the Time and the Batman graphic novel