The first issue of Matt Fraction's new Iron Man series came out today, with artwork by Salvador Larocca (colors by the late Stephane Peru, with Frank D'Armata finishing up what Peru did not manage to handle before his tragic death), and it is excellent.
Like his work on The Order, Fraction makes The Invincible Iron Man a densely packed book - you are getting a lot of story featuring a lot of different characters in each issue, which is quite impressive.
The main plot of the issue is that a new bad guy named Ezekiel Stane is turning people into suicide bombers, using Iron Man technology, that Stane figured out on his own! In one single issue, Fraction has already successfully saved the name Ezekiel from JMS' Spider-Man run. Stane is a charismatic villain, and funny, too. Check out his intro, where he is hired to invent cigarettes that can cause people to lose weight...
Salvador Larocca's artwork is the strongest I have seen it look in quite awhile. He maintains his realistic looks without sacrificing storytelling, which is hard to do, so I was pleased that Larocca was able to pull it off.
Fraction even throws in some continuity mentions, like having Tony and Rhodey converse like they used to, and in this nice double-page splash, where the Armor Wars are addressed...
In one issue, Fraction has introduced an intriguing new villain (plus the villain's girlfriend, who is also interesting), set up some plots for problems with Iron Man's armor, got in some action scenes, set up later plots, work in a number of nice character moments (including early on, with some minor characters who are there just to die) - although the whole "showing him her thong" scene seemed a bit off to me, I liked the idea, but the execution seemed off, mostly because Fraction didn't have Tony react - it robs Pepper's actions of some of the power if we don't see Tony acknowledge it, plus a cliffhanger ending that is completely set up by the story - a nice, FAIR cliffhanger.
Great first issue.