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Matt Fraction continues to demonstrate how Iron Man should be written. This should have been the Iron Man movie. Seriously. Why can’t anyone in Hollywood write super-heroes this well?

If you’ve read the previous issues, you pretty much know what’s happening this issue. In a chillingly Al Quaida-like move, Ezekiel Stane has smuggled miniature multi-megaton bombs into four separate Stark facilities. Iron Man and his team are racing against the clock to evacuate the facilities and intercept the bombers before all Hell breaks loose. Worse, Stane himself is one of the bombers, and he’s armed with tech that might be more powerful that Stark’s. Iron Man just happens to arrive at the same facility (actually, I think it’s more than coincidence, but we’ll have to wait for the next issue to find out), and the battle that ensues is brutal. Fraction does a great job getting us inside the head of a madman, and we never lose the sense of just how much is at stake or how carefully Stane has planned it all out.

And the art! When I was young, the only comics that looked this good, where every panel was a painting you could hang on your wall, was in Heavy Metal—where 90% of the stories were incomprehensible and/or ridiculous. Larroca draws beautiful splashes (we get a nice establishing shot of each Stark facility before Stane blows it to bits), but he also knows how to tell a story clearly, which is trick that half the artists in the business haven’t mastered. I have only one complaint. Pepper Potts should have freckles. The Marvel Universe is full of red-heads, and only two of them have freckles: Pepper and the Red Skull’s daughter Sin. Why are Sin’s freckles so prominent, while Pepper’s keep disappearing? I think my wife is right. There is prejudice against red-heads.

Anyway, this is a great book. I should make a nod to the ending. It’s a shocker, but I think careful readers will see how Stark gets out of it. Pick it up yourself and see. (Grade: A)

  • Andrew C. Murphy