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Tony Stark wants to spend a little time with his new ladyfriend, so he sends Rhodey on the trail of the ninjas who themselves are on the trail of Madame Masque. That’s pretty much all that happens in Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato’s “Invincible Iron Man” #6, where Rhodey finds himself in an underground club while Tony and Amara enjoy breakfast at a local diner until Victor Von Doom crashes their date. There’s a definite slowdown to Bendis’ story, one that takes the opportunity to bring War Machine into the storyline but then doesn’t let him see much action other than scaring Stark Tower’s housekeeping staff. The issue isn’t without its moments, though, even though Bendis pads it out, and Deodato compensates with some nice visuals.

One of those most impressive visuals is on the opening page, where Deodato and colorist Frank Martin compose a shimmering and steamy nighttime Osaka skyline dominated by a lofty Stark Tower. Tony’s long-distance exchange with Rhodey brings both War Machine and the readers up to speed regarding Madame Masque’s puzzling break-in of Stark Tower. The exchange leads to one of the issue’s more comical moments, which is at least funnier than the humor Bendis tries to evoke later on with repetition, a trick which works with varying levels of success.

Tony Stark isn’t portrayed as all that likeable most of the time, but his decision to send his friend on the trail of one of his foes so he can have waffles with his new love interest comes across as low, even for his egotistical self. This move by Bendis makes Rhodey’s introduction to the storyline seem contrived; Tony could have just asked for Rhodey’s help and it would seem much more believable than conjuring up such a selfish motive.

Deodato commits a fundamental flaw with the panel flow during Tony and Amara’s breakfast outing, leading to a bit of confusion before readers figure out the sequence. Deodato’s style seems a little courser than usual as well; the fine consistency often seen in his art is ramped down here, consisting of more solids than textured lines, which gives many of his panels a darker look than needed. Additionally, the photorealistic faces used here often look a little forced.

Bendis’ usage of a newly-handsome and well-coiffed Victor Von Doom was clever and made for a worthy surprise in earlier issues, but Von Doom’s constant stalking of Tony is starting to wear thin. Bendis has already succeeded in establishing doubt regarding Von Doom’s apparent reformation, but continuing to do so here is little more than redundant. The whole issue has a feeling of redundancy, and — coupled with its somewhat stagnant pace — “Invincible Iron Man” #6 is the most stretched out issue of the new series so far.