Comic Book Review: Invincible Iron Man #6

The Revolution continues to find Invincible Iron Man completely and totally unimpressive. Fraction is delivering a pedestrian read that is nothing more than a standard issue comic book story. Iron Man is by far and away my favorite Marvel character so it pains me to see a writer who is clearly of limited ability writing this title. And it makes it even harder considering that I got spoiled by such incredible writing from the Knaufs leading up to Fraction taking over writing Iron Man.

I can only hope that sales numbers slip enough to warrant Marvel placing a different writer on this title. Personally, I think Marvel should have given Invincible Iron Man to Christos Gage. He always did a fantastic job filling in for the Knaufs. Let’s go ahead and do this review for Invincible Iron Man #6.

Creative Team
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca

Art Rating: 8 Night Girls out of 10
Story Rating: 3 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 5.5 Night Girls out of 10

Synopsis: We begin with Ezekial Stane gloating about doing what nobody else has been able to do: Kill Tony Stark. Stane 2.0 then spits on Tony’s body and says that Tony is “Dead as hell.” (Brilliant writing.) Stane 2.0 rips open Tony’s armor stating that he wants to see what is left of Tony. Stane 2.0 then is stunned to realize that Tony’s armor is completely empty. (Shocking. Not. Everyone including my senile abuelita saw this coming.)

We see Tony in his armor radioing Stane 2.0 and telling him that he is twelve minutes away from the Stark facility in Long Island. Tony follows that up with the witty banter of “Checkmate, brat.”

Ezekiel contacts his girlfriend and tells her that Tony sent in Iron Man armies in to stop him and the other bombers. Stane 2.0 tells his girlfriend to go ahead and activate all of the bombs. We then see a bunch of older suits of Iron Man armors surrounding Ezekial.

We cut to the other Stark facilities where armies of older suits of Iron Man armors have arrived on the scene and are helping to clear the facilities of all civilians and employees. We see several of the suits of armor surrounding the bombers in the Tokyo facility and telling them to surrender. The bombers refuse to do so.

Maria and Pepper then contact Tony and inform him that all of Stane’s bombers have gone online. Tony promises that the bombers will not reach critical mass and that his Iron Man armors will take the bombers out.

We see Tony manage all of the fights between the suits of armor and the bombers at all the various locations. (Talk about multitasking.) While the bombers are powering up, the suits of armor move in to take them down. Tony states how the human bombers need time to power up and Tony is going to use that to his advantage.

We cut to Tony arriving at the Long Island facility and smashing Ezekial into the ground. Tony gets on top of Stane 2.0 and places his repuslor glove to Ezekiel’s head and orders baby Stane to call off the bombers. Tony thinks how he has the perfect kill shot on Ezekial at the moment.

Tony then proceeds to fire up a massive electromagnetic pulse. Suddenly, all Starktech across the globe goes dead. We see both Maria and Pepper’s computers go dead. Stane 2.0’s bombers also go dead.

Tony the steps out of his suit of armor. Tony states that so much of Stark’s technology has weapons applications or could be weaponized. Tony asks if Ezekial was so dumb to not think that Tony would have created an off-switch in his technology. (So why didn’t you use it earlier, genius?)

Tony reveals that his EMP (the ultimate in unoriginal and hackneyed plot device to render technology inert.) destroyed all of Stark’s technology across the globe. Ezekial is stunned at what Tony just did. Tony then says that it is just Tony versus Ezekial. No armors.

Tony proceeds to take Ezekiel back behind the wood shed and gives him one hell of a bloody beating. Tony says how Stane 2.0 could have used his brilliant mind to help save the world. Ezekiel spits up blood and says that he is the face of the future. Ezekial calls Tony yesterday’s hero. Ezekial rants that Tony is a pig. A fascist. An oppressor. A capitalist war monger. A death-profiteer. (This is riveting stuff, people. Clichéd does not even begin to describe it.)

Tony then snaps “You think I haven’t heard that before? You think I give a damn what people think of me? I’m trying to save the world even when it doesn’t see it. You’re just trying to kill people and get rich.” (Hot damn! That is the best dialogue that Fraction has given us so far in his entire run on this title up to this point.)

Stane 2.0 then tells Tony to shut up and kill him. Tony responds that Ezekiel’s dad was harder to beat and smarter than Ezekiel. We see SHIELD agents arrive on the scene and then arrest Ezekiel. Tony thinks how Stane 2.0 is right that he is the future.

We cut to that night with Tony in his office on the SHIELD Helicarrier. Pepper and Maria enter his office and inform him that Ezekiel is locked down to Tony’s specifications. Maria informs Tony that all of the bombers died once Tony neutralized all of the Starktech with the EMP. Evidently, Ezekiel wired the bombs directly into their hearts. Therefore, when the EMP took down the tech it also shut off their hearts and killed them. (Sweet. Way to go Tony.)

Tony then waves his hand and turns his back to Pepper and Maria and tells them curtly that they are dismissed. Pepper tries to talk to Tony. Tony simply responds by yelling “Go! Please…” Maria and Pepper then exit Tony’s office.

Tony stares out the window into the black starry night skies and thinks how he had five nightmares. And now Ezekiel Stane has given Tony a sixth nightmare. That Ezekiel has shown Tony what kind of man he has to become and what kind of things that he has to do in order to keep his nightmares from coming true. End of issue.

Comments
The Good: Invincible Iron Man #6 was exactly what I expected: predictable and unoriginal. Once again, Fraction delivers another pedestrian read. Of course, there were several rather positive aspects to this issue.

Fraction served up plenty of kick-ass action. It was awesome to see Tony just beat the bloody hell out of Stane 2.0. I have found Stane 2.0 to be one of the most annoying villains ever and not in a good way. So, obviously, I took great satisfaction in seeing Tony turn Ezekiel’s face into ground meat.

I was stunned that Fraction actually turned in some excellent dialogue by Tony in his retort to Stane 2.0’s rant during the scene where Tony beats him down. That was quite the rare moment of finely crafted dialogue amid a sea of hackneyed and uninspired dialogue.

For the first time in the past six issues, Fraction momentarily displays a good sense of Tony’s character. The fact is that Tony does not care how other people view him or think about him. Tony makes the decisions that others cannot or will not. Tony does what must be done that other people lack the intestinal fortitude to carry out.

Fraction properly encapsulates the fact that Tony willingly accepts this heavy burden even though it might make him look bad to people on the outside. Protecting the world and doing the right thing is far more important to Tony than how people may perceive him. It is obvious that Tony will sacrifice himself for the greater good.

Salvador Larroca’s artwork is just gorgeous. Larroca’s artwork is what carries this issue. It is too bad that we do not get a writer on this title that is capable of giving Larroca more to work with than the meager story that Fraction has put forth. Still, Larroca does his best with what Fraction gives him to work with.

The Bad: Iron Man #6 has all the same defects as the previous five issues. Fraction mindlessly cranks out more pedestrian dialogue. The dialogue ranges from resolutely average at certain points to downright cheesy and dumb at other moments. Some of the dialogue is actually painful to read. I continue to feel like I am reading a rough draft of the dialogue rather than a final polished professional product.

Fraction’s character work continues to be paper thin. Stane 2.0 is nothing more than your standard issue maniacal comic book villain. This has been one of the biggest weaknesses of this current story arc. A story is only as good as the villain that it features. And Stane 2.0 has been so bland, unoriginal and annoying that it has robbed me of any interest in this story arc.

Fraction’s handling of Tony continues to be shockingly poor. Especially coming right on the heels of the Knaufs flat out phenomenal character work that they performed on Tony’s character. Fraction gives Tony as bland a personality as possible. This is such a dull version of Tony. Fraction’s Tony lacks the fun playboy personality of version of Tony from the Iron Man movie. And Fraction’s Tony lacks the complex and intriguing personality that the Knaufs gave us on Iron Man: Director of SHIELD.

I get the strong sense that Fraction simply knows nothing at all about Tony’s character. It is painfully clear that Fraction has absolutely no feel at all for Tony’s personality. Usually, professional comic book writers conduct a certain amount of research on a specific character before writing them. Usually, the writer will at least skim over back-issues to familiarize themselves with how the character acts and thinks as well as to properly understand the character’s past. This enables the writer to better understand the character’s view of life and what motivates them.

I see nothing in how Fraction has written Tony that tells me that he has read a single Iron Man comic book. Instead, it seems that Fraction simply watched the Iron Man movie and then decided that he had done enough research on Tony and was ready to write this title. I know that conducting research can be hard work and is not always fun, but it is what professional writers do when they are truly dedicated to their craft.

This initial six issue story arc was terribly unoriginal and predictable. Invincible Iron Man #6 completely failed in delivering an exciting ending to this plodding story arc. Instead, we got a “paint by numbers” final issue that lacked any originality. It almost seems like Fraction is writing this story based off an instructional “How To” book on comic book writing. It reminds me of the type of work that you see novice writers in college creative writing courses when they are trying to learn the archetypal structures and themes that are present in certain forms of writing.

Absolutely everyone knew that Tony’s armor was empty. We all knew that Tony was controlling the armor remotely. This is something that is so unoriginal and we have seen a zillion times before.

Tony resorting to the most common Iron Man deus ex machina in the form of an EMP to stop Stane 2.0 and his bombers was so unoriginal. Uggh. EMP’s have been the default stock answer to solve any technological problem that Iron Man might encounter.

The EMP is also the most unoriginal, over-used and common way to defeat Iron Man. I found this “solution” to the threat presented by Stane 2.0 to be very uninspiring and uncreative. It was also way too convenient to unleash this EMP that takes offline every piece of Starktech across the globe.

Fraction’s use of the EMP also lacks internal logic. Fraction has Tony state that he created this “off switch” a while back as a precaution in the event that someone stole his tech and tried to use it for nefarious purposes. If that is the case then why in the hell didn’t Tony use this “off switch” the very moment that he first discovered that Stane 2.0 was using Starktech to create his suicide bombers? It was irrelevant where Ezekiel Stane was hiding since this magical EMP evidently has a global reach.

And even if the argument is made that the EMP only reaches as far as wherever Tony’s suits of armors are located then why in the world did Tony not immediately employ all of his suits of armor to each of his Stark facilities the minute they were threatened? That would have prevented the facility in Valencia from being blown up.

The ending of Invincible Iron Man #6 was so cheesy and way too melodramatic. Tony’s heartache over the fact that his EMP ended up killing the suicide bombers was just way too much.

Again, did Fraction even bother to read the Knaufs run on Iron Man: Director of SHIELD at all? The Knaufs put Tony through situations that were much worse than this one. The Knaufs had Tony face moral dilemmas that were far more intense and difficult than this one. And the end result was that the Knaufs molded Tony into a character who became quite hardened. This ending in Invincible Iron Man #6 was no where near as traumatic as some of the consequences of Tony’s decisions during the Knaufs’ run.

I am not saying that Tony would be jumping up and down out of joy over what happened. But, after all that he went through during the Knaufs’ run, Tony would certainly not be wracked by this overwhelming melodrama that Fraction gives us in this ending. The Knaufs has groomed Tony into a character that possessed a realistic and pragmatic view of his job as Director of SHIELD and what he had to do to protect the world. Tony made his decisions confidently and then moved on. There was no time for regret since Tony even pointed out that his job does not afford him that luxury.

In the final two pages, Fraction has Tony drone on about Stane showing Tony what kind of man that Tony has to be in order to keep his nightmares from coming true. Dude, seriously? Once again, I have to ask if Fraction even knows about the Knaufs’ run on Iron Man: Director of SHIELD.

The Knaufs already did this with Tony’s character about making him perform some soul searching in the face of the realization of what kind of man he will have to be to make the hard and difficult decisions that the Director of SHIELD must make. And the Knaufs did it in a fashion that was vastly superior and much more in-depth and complex than what Fraction has given us.

Again, Tony has already done this soul searching and reached acceptance over the kinds of terrible and difficult acts he will have to perform in order to protect the world. Fraction is merely re-treading well worn ground and is doing so out of ignorance and giving us a much more shallow and inferior story in the process.

Overall: Fraction’s Invincible Iron Man is simply an unintelligent read. And Invincible Iron Man #6 clearly continues that trend. The Knaufs gave us a thinking man’s Iron Man and now Fraction is following that up with a story that barely passes as mindless entertainment. Fraction’s opening story arc has been derivative and predictable.

At no point do I feel like I am getting a polished professional comic book which is inexcusable considering Marvel is the number one comic book publisher. There are so many independent titles that have a much more polished and professional story compared to what we are getting on Invincible Iron Man.

I would only recommend Invincible Iron Man to die-hard Iron Man fans, Fraction fans and readers who just want pretty art and some mindless action. If you do not fall into one of those three categories then I would suggest that you spend your hard earned money elsewhere.

3 Comments

  1. pretty much the only thing i liked about this issue was that tony stark, a man who is somewhat defined by the suit of powered armor he wears, kicking the living hell out of someone with his bare hands, proving to stane that he is more than just the armor.
    -hobosk8er

  2. A weapons manufacturer who now leads SHIELD agonizing over having pulled the plug on a bunch of people who were about to blow themselves up…?

  3. I agree with the last comment. Tony Stark is the head of the highest military organization, he isn’t supposed to even consider the terrosists as casualties

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