I’m using someone else’s marvel account to read the unlimited comics and what they buy print. I also listen to them on what to read at least part of the time. So I’ve finally been reading Fraction’s Iron Man and I was shaky on it first. Larocca’s art took time to grow. Fraction took time to get in the grove but he knows how to play the long game, to make comics fun. And so I reached 500.1, right after that renumbering, right after the future skip issue.
500.1 came to me when I was working in the comic shop. I didn’t read Iron Man at the time. I heard 500 was good though and it was enjoyable though I missed out on stuff. Tony losing the memory of every Bendis event (insert joke about how if only we could all be so lucky, cheap punches).
But then 500.1 was the next one and it was infinitely better. The premise is simple. Tony is going to an AA meeting. He’s telling his life story. He’s being oblique but the words he uses, they feel real. And part of that comes from Fraction and his life.
I don’t know much about Matt Fraction. To be honestly I didn’t even know it wasn’t his real name till a few weeks ago and I love almost all the stuff he wrote.
Fraction had been asked about an in joke in Hawkeye, talked about this fake tv show called Dog Cops. And he wrote this piece on tumblr, and reading through it was kind of horrifying and beautiful and terrible and just so fucking weird. Take a second to read that.
And for me, I’ve lived a soft life. I have loans but I have a life where I can actually have those. Come at me people in the first world complaining about how horrible life can be. (Yes it can be terrible but not getting malaria so you can harvest yams terrible.) And during my life I’ve had my dad (still do, still hope he is around for another few decades, happy and healthy). He’s a caring and compassionate man. He’s a psychologist and he’s an immigrant and he’s there. And he’s got a dark sense of humor. And sometimes after a hard day, he’d just let out these oblique stories about a patient. No names, those are for the coworker stories. But these stories of people suffering from addiction, suffering from brain issues, just suffering from hells that they created themselves.
And I’m not entirely sure why these two parts come together. My dad, and Tony Stark at AA and Matt Fraction, maybe it’s just the real problems I’m lucky enough to never have. Maybe it is the stories beyond the sentiment that are never told. Maybe it is just self pity or hate or something. I hate myself sometimes, but don’t we all?
But 500.1 just hits me. It hits me because while Tony Stark is fake those people in the world like him are real, they just need a hand, they need people to guide them. I’m lucky to have my dad. I’m lucky to have what I have. I’m lucky enough to live in an era where I can read comics on a friend’s account after a long day of work and I’m lucky that I have a future. I can keep working and becoming better. I can help people too. I can do more than just continuing pain and strife just by listening.