Iron Man: The Inevitable was a mini-series published in early 2006 that was meant to fill the gap in Marvel's schedule by the delayed Warren Ellis/Adi Granov relaunch of Iron Man that still hadn't finished its opening arc. I don't know if this was meant to be the second arc or was commissioned as a mini-series, but it basically became the Iron Man comic published by Marvel at the time until Ellis and Granov finished their arc and the book went off into obscurity until Matt Fraction took it over. (Ha ha ha... it's funny, because it's true.)
The Inevitable fits nicely into Joe Casey's ouevre, exploring many ideas that he explored elsewhere: the hero/villain dynamic, superheroes and the business world, obsession, the struggle to maintain one's humanity, and the inevitable impossibility to change really. Tony Stark is useful character to explore most of these ideas. His place in the Marvel universe at this point was similar to where Daredevil is now: he's return to Stark Industries, everyone knew he was Iron Man, and he's now claiming that someone else is wearing the armour when it's really him. He's a man forced to lie to the world even when they explicitly state the truth. They'll say to him that he's Iron Man (or say to Iron Man that he's Tony Stark) and he'll deny it strongly. It almost becomes a gag by the end.
This issue sets up the plot of the series. There's Sinclair Abbott, the new Spymaster. He's another businessman and has set himself in opposition to Stark because he wants to play the villain. I don't think he was the first Casey villain that reveled in his role, but he was among the first. Casey has a strong fondness for bad guys that don't see themselves as good guys. They love being bad and they see their role as opposition to the hero as essential. If they see themselves as good in any way, it's that their existance makes the hero possible. Here, he immediately begins needling Tony at a charity function, goading him to drink:
WATER? THIS IS A PARTY, STARK.
SINCE I DON'T SEE A SPONSOR OR A BODYGUARD HANGING AROUND, I GUESS I'D ASSUMED WE'D SEE THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK...
...YOU DON'T SEEM LIKE THE TYPE WHO'D ABSTAIN FROM ANYTHING THAT'S SP OBVIOUSLY PART OF YOUR MAKEUP.
This is meant to draw out Tony's life as Iron Man. Abbott knows that Tony is still wearing the armour and is beginning the back-and-forth interaction between hero and villain that he wants. He sees it all as a game. An inevitability. How can one deny their true nature? And he's right. Tony is still wearing the armour. Even if he wasn't, you know he would be by the end of the series. No matter what talk there is about giving up the life or moving on, superheroes always return to being superheroes. Abbott knows this essential truth and so does Casey. At the end of the issue, Abbott meets with the Ghost...
The other major focus of the series is Tony purchasing a fragment of the Living Laser that didn't get sent into space and hiring a psychiatrist that specialises in superhumans to interface with the containment apparatus and, hopefully, draw Arthur Parks out and reform him. Tony wants to bring Parks back from his inert state and also 'cure' his villainy. This is about Tony's efforts to move forward, to break free from old patterns. The irony being that he's still stuck in old patterns. His oldest pattern: dressing up as Iron Man and pretending he's his own bodyguard. Nothing changes, everything is inevitable.
Joined with Casey on this series is Frazer Irving. His art is perfect for this sort of book. Odd, sinister-looking people. lots of neon glows, and lots of fantastic facial expressions. I love the way that Greta Abbott looks. All made up with weird hair, too much make-up, and look like she's fake and trying too hard. One thing I notice about Irving's art is how rounded his heads are. It makes the Iron Man, Spymaster, and Ghost armour stand out with their angles and hard edges.
In 30 minutes, issue two.
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