Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Salvador Larroca
One of these days, Tony and friends will actually drive that darn repulsor car, but by then the Japanese auto industry will have beaten them to it.
Part eight of “Stark Resilient” carries on Tony Stark’s hope to spread his clean repulsor energy with a test sports car. Yet the Hammer mom/daughter team and their fighter in the corner, Detroit Steel, continue to make Tony’s life difficult.
I must admit, I’m ready for this story to be over. I picked up this issue thinking “Wait, this hasn’t ended yet?” Unfortunately, there’s still one more issue. It’s not that this story arc – Tony rebuilding his life and company in the face of adversity from the past – is bad. It just does not need to be nine issues long just to test out a car and lay the smack down on the Hammer family yet again.
With that said, the arc enters the climax with Iron Man, Rescue and War Machine (now collectively “Team Iron Man”) in a combined ground-air assault with Detroit Steel and its hundreds of sidekick drones. This is where the story shines, as our trio of heroes shouts witty banter back and forth. Fraction excels with this sharp, natural dialog that captures both the years of camaraderie and experience these characters have, almost being comfortable when hundreds of deadly robots fly about. Almost a bit much, downplaying the threat (especially Detroit Steel himself) and thus losing some of the suspense, but it’s still fun to read.
The back of the book contains a dream sequence side story of Pepper Potts between this and next issue, also written by Fraction. It’s an interesting romp through Ms. Pott’s dream, complete with the usual rapid scene change found in comic dreams. Pay attention to the backgrounds for a revelation in later dialog, just to feel good that you spotted it, and if you remember any of the previous “Start Disassembled” story arc, the last bit will seem familiar.
So even with this story being tediously decompressed and the threat seeming less and less dangerous, the characters and their interactions with each other make the book enjoyable to read.
Larroca definitely draws some nice looking characters. The people and the Iron Man suits have an impressive lifelike detail, from fine facial hair to panel lines and rivets. Frank D’Armata’s coloring is also to be commended in making the Iron Men stand out from regular men. Softer tones and shading are used on organic surfaces (skin, cloth), while metallic shine and lighting glow on repulsor batteries make the suits pop out more.
Nothing pops out quite as much as the ridiculously (and purposefully) gaudy Detroit Steel. Sporting the stars and stripes on an entirely too bulky suit, Larroca makes Steel go overboard in true American fashion with a Gatling gun on one arm that would make War Machine jealous and giant chainsaw on the other that would make even Bruce Campbell feel inadequate. It’s a neat design, perfectly effective in capturing the Hammers’ need to one-up Tony Stark and his Iron Man by complete overkill.
However, as pretty as the art looks, occasionally it just isn’t expressive. Some of the characters facial expressions don’t emote anything, particularly not the dialog or the underlying feeling. They at times look just plain bored or awkward (I’m looking at you, Maria Hill).
And Larroca seems to actively try and maintain that clean and neat feel of his work, quickly ignoring battle damage. Even after explosions, crash landings and chainsaws, the suits look generally fine within a couple of panels. With no signs of self-repair in progress, the change disrupts the visual continuity and just looks weird.
Basically it’s pretty but shallow.
The back-up side story is also decent. The colors are brighter, and the designs are simplified. But the important part is several cute depictions of Pepper Potts (I’m particularly fond of the business woman Pepper on the office table). Still pretty and shallow, but for somewhat different reasons.
Invincible Iron Man is a fun book, and I enjoy Fraction and Larroca’s work rebuilding Tony Stark after the crap he has gone through during the past few years. Fraction just needs to speed things up because this arc is drawn out too much, and if Larroca’s are is any sign, even some of the characters are getting bored.
Overall (Not an Average) 6.75/10