Comics Spotlight on Iron Man #500

Geek Culture

When I went into a local store that carries a limited supply of weekly comics last week, I saw Iron Man #500 and couldn’t resist picking up the double-sized anniversary issue. I collected the title for a long time, from issues #97-200, and I wanted to see how they’d celebrate that long history.

Comic geekery note: Iron Man, the title, has been rebooted several times and there have been a number of #1 issues since the first. But the editorial inside says this is indeed the actual 500th issue of Shellhead’s adventures.


Marvel went with a relatively simple story to celebrate Iron Man’s history. Tony Stark has recently come back from both a coma and a self-induced wipe of his memories but there’s one thing nagging at him, the memory of a device to wipe out all technology that he was obsessed with building for reasons that are lost to him.

He enlists the help of Peter Parker (Spider-Man) who was his assistant in designing the device. In the present day, the pair tackle terrorists who want to use the device to overthrow the technological “overlords” of the planet. In a dystopian future, Tony Stark and his descendants struggle against his arch-enemy, the Mandarin, who is in the verge of destroying the entire world and has been using an elderly Tony as a slave and power battery.

What Kids Will Like About It:

I usually try to write reviews of comics that I enjoyed a great deal, so this is somewhat of a departure from what. While I enjoyed the story, I didn’t think it was as fantastic as an anniversary story could be. I understand what that the idea was to go back to the theme of Tony’s eternal struggles with weapons, but I’m not sure what kids will find to like in the story. For one, despite the finely detailed artwork, what’s going on in the future is a bit confusing. I re-read it at least once before it become clear. That’s not a problem for me but I suspect this might not hold a child’s attention, particularly younger readers. On the other hand, if your child like great art of robot and cyborg beings fighting each other and lots of explosions, they might just enjoy it.

Also, Spider-Man adds his trademark humor to the present-day story and that’s a lot of fun.

What Parents will Like About It:

It is a good story, particularly the present-day tale, as Tony struggles with his legacy of causing destruction, an issue that’s been part of Iron Man’s character since the beginning. I loved Spider-Man as a guest-star but he’s so good that he almost overshadows Tony.

There is a reproduction of all 500 Iron Man covers in the back of the book, which is very cool, though they are a little small to read. I recognized some of my favorite early covers but the print was too small to read the actual issue numbers.

Favorite Panel:

The last triumph of Tony, in the future story. It’s a wonderfully shaded panel and works perfectly as an end. (I think it’s not giving it away if I say that Tony wins his struggle against the Mandarin.)

About the Creators:

Matt Fraction had a terrific run on The Immortal Iron Fist, one of my favorite titles of the last few years. He’s also the current writer for Uncanny X-Men. Salvador Larroca, who did the cover above, also supplied much of the interior artwork, with assists by KANO, Nathan Fox, and Carmine Di Giandomenico.

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