Iron Man's old foes Mandarin, Zeke Stane, Blizzard, and alcohol come back to bear and to make Tony Stark's life hell once more. There's a lot of action in this issue, and most of it is action as can only happen in an Iron Man comic.
Matt Fraction drew me in on this volume of "Iron Man" with his ability to fill the comic book with the flavor, pacing, and action of the movies. His Tony Stark exudes the charm and swagger of Robert Downey, Jr. Recently I've found myself drifting away from this title as the weight of the "Fear Itself" story was just a little too little for a little too much. With that now over, Fraction is back to world-building with Tony Stark, giving Stark problems and foes that are appropriate to both Tony Stark and to Iron Man. Fraction also brings some remnants from "Fear Itself" into this title, finding a role for Splitlip in the life of Tony Stark.
Salvador Larroca's art is as detailed as always, as photo-referential as always, and well-suited to the high-tech life of Iron Man. Some of the panels have characters in them that are little more than wooden cutouts, and some of those woodenly posed characters do not help in conveying the story. Quite the opposite, in fact: the story seems to sputter in the action sequences. I can discern that something happens to Iron Man when he's blasted, but it's hard to determine what happens when Iron Man fires a blast at a departing van. It becomes clear as the story continues on, but that scene as shown is murky.
Fraction puts a lot into this story: foes from Iron Man's past, dangers lurking on the horizon, and more. There's a lot going on here and it makes for a fast-moving, rewarding read of a comic.
Now that "Fear Itself" is behind us, Fraction is able to focus on Tony Stark being Iron Man and fighting against menaces that only Iron Man can face. About damn time, I say. This book is clicking once again and I'm looking forward to where it goes from here as Fraction is getting ready to run Iron Man through ringer.