I've been an occasional reader of Matt Fraction's work on "Invincible Iron Man." That said, I decided to check out this issue for a couple of reasons. First, there is the uber-cool Marc Silvestri-drawn "classic" red and gold Iron Man cover. Secondly, this issue's solicit promised the Crimson Dynamo. What could be better than a throwback armor-plated smackdown between Tony Stark and Dmitri Bukharin?
Of course, this comic takes place in the Marvel Universe where Norman Osborn rules with an iron fist. The smackdown doesn't really happen, as much as it is a misunderstanding between Crimson Dynamo and Iron Man. But once that is settled, Fraction gives us some insight into the views the rest of the world hold of Norman Osborn. Bukharin's candor when talking to Osborn provides a light-hearted yet poignant scene, adding a dent into the armor of Osborn's empire.
Larocca continues to turn in brilliant pages in this book, with most of his panels running horizontally, giving a widescreen shot for the action and adventure. Larocca has developed quite a rapport with D'Armata, making the art a more collaborative process. The two work so well together, I'd love to see the original pages from Larocca to get a better sense of where his work stops and D'Armata's begins. The duo also use the "white space" -- I suppose negative space would be more accurate than "white" -- to add drama and draw focus. Again, the conversation between Osborn and Bukharin serves as a strong example.
This story is moving forward, drawing from elements of Iron Man's past to forge a new suit of armor for his future. It's interesting to read who Fraction chooses to bring in and how. While most books at issue #14 would still be world-building, Fraction is able to do some world-shaping, picking elements and personalities from Iron Man's history to make this book a visual celebration. While some folks may be quick to compare this storyline to "Hush" from the Batman books, it just isn't Tony Stark and Bruce Wayne many be wealthy, arrogant billionaire bachelors with secret identities, but the comparisons diverge from there, as Tony's world spins into the counterintelligence spheres of influence. Here that works well and gives a nice mix between superheroics, espionage, and adventure stories.
This title is high-octane excitement and the repulsor rays have this book set for "fun." As the world marks time until the next "Iron Man" movie, this title can be relied upon for a monthly dose of iron-clad excitement.