The Revolution has not been a big fan of Matt Fractions Invincible Iron Man. Though he has had his moments in this series Fraction’s run on this title has been largely unimpressed. And World’s Most Wanted has been a terribly unoriginal story arc. Invincible Iron Man #19 marks the end of this year long arc but I do not have high expectations for this issue. Let see if Fraction can prove me wrong.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: We begin inside Avengers Tower’s medical wing were a doctor is explaining to Ms. Hand all of the injuries Madame Masque has suffered. Ms. Hand tells the doctor that before they call Norman Osborn that they will put a bullet in the head of the impostor Madame Masque.
In another part of the Avengers Tower Pepper, Maria Hill, and Natasha are able to reach a elevator without being noticed. Maria can’t believe that she was rescued by Tony’s secretary. Natasha tells Maria to shut up. Maria asks Pepper when the shooting starts. Pepper says it won’t as they are just going to walk out as Madame Masque and her two prisoners.
Pepper calls JARVIS. JARVIS answers and tells Pepper he has full control of the suit again and has found the Stark Drive. Pepper tells him to upload a virus to Osborns network which he already started doing. The elevator the three women are in suddenly stops. Ms. Hand’s voice comes out of the PA system telling everyone in the building that they are in Code Red and everyone is to find and terminate Pepper Potts on sight.
JARVIS asks Pepper what she wants him to do and she tells him to find the drive. Pepper, Maria, and Natasha are then met by bunch of HAMMER agents when the elevator door opens.
We cut to somewhere in the skies of Pakistan were Norman, using the Iron Patriot armor, is flying to Tony’s current location. He asks Walsh were Stark is currently is but he and everyone else is having trouble using Tony’s tech but that Norman is getting closer to Tony. Norman tries to contact Ms. Hand but she does not answer. Norman fires a repulsor blast at a mountain blowing it up as he becomes more and more irritated.
In the Avengers Tower monitor room Walsh’s superior finds out Walsh has been feeding Norman wrong information about Tony’s current location. He has HAMMER agents arrest Walsh and uploads Tony’s current location to Norman’s armor.
Ms. Hand calls Norman to apologize for losing the prisoners but Norman tells her its fine. Ms. Hand asks Norman why he sounds so calm. Norman says he is 26 minutes away from Tony’s location.
Back in Avengers Tower the HAMMER agents open fire on Pepper, Maria, and Natasha. Pepper uses her arc reactor to destroy the bullets. She is unable to stop all the bullets and Natasha quickly closes the elevator door. JARVIS contacts Pepper that he has overridden the system and he now has control of the building. Pepper says she is going to go to her armor and Maria and Natasha say they will get the drive back.
Tony unable to jump anymore is forced to walk. Norman finally reaches Tony and shots him in the back with a repulsor blast. Norman says how he went to a lot of trouble to piss Tony off. Tony just keeps repeating “Gotta go. Gotta go. Gotta—” to which Norman yells to fight him.
Back in Avengers Tower Natasha and Maria leave the elevator to find the drive while Pepper goes to get her armor. Natasha and Maria enter the room were the drive is and tell the people working on cracking the drive to hand it over.
Back in Iran Norman is pummeling Tony into the ground becoming more and more frustrated that Tony won’t fight back. Right when Norman is going for the killing blow Tony comes to his senses, somewhat, and starts fighting back.
Pepper finally reaches her armor and puts it on. She leaves Avengers Tower and tells JARVIS to contact the media about Norman and Tony’s fight.
In Dubai’s GNN Newsroom all of the reporters have been sent footage of Norman’s current fight with Tony in the Iranian desert. They all rush out in order to film the story.
Shifting to Natasha and Maria they are about to get off the elevator but before they do Natasha reminds Maria she is a soldier and to start acting like one. As soon as the elevator doors open Maria yells at all of the HAMMER agents to stand down and think whose side they really are on. The agents stand aside and allow Natasha and Maria to leave.
Back in the Iranian desert Norman is delighted with the fact Tony is finally fighting back. He starts pummeling Tony to the ground again tearing off Tony’s helmet. Before he lands the killing blow Tony says he wins. Before Norman can ask why Tony just said that he is told that the whole world is watching his fight and if he kills Tony he will be turned into a martyr.
Sometime later Tony is in the Avengers Tower medical facility were a doctor informs Norman that Tony is in a vegetative state. Norman tells the doctor to pull the plug but is informed that Tony’s will states that only Doctor Donald Blake (Thor) can do that.
The doctor calls Donald, who is in a Oklahoma motel, to inform him of Tony’s situation. We then see Donald is with Captaing America, Pepper, Natasha, and Maria. End of issue.
The Good: Invincible Iron Man #19 was a good albeit flawed ending to Matt Fraction’s World’s Most Wanted arc. Out of all of the issues from this year long story arc this was probably the best written issues we have gotten, which isn’t saying much.
One of the biggest weaknesses of this arc has been the slow and repetitive pace of this arc killed any sense of despair and danger for our hero. But finally for the time in this story arc I actually felt that Tony’s life was in danger. Fraction provided some solid writing to get that point across in this issue as we see Tony desperately wanting to get to the next location to finish his mind wipe in the first Iron Man armor while repeating “Gotta go” over and over again.
Though as a long time Iron Man fan I have seen Tony in a similar situation of being on the run before in other classic Iron Man stories the addition of his deteriorating mental capacity was a nice addition. By taking away all of Tony’s intelligence away from him Fraction was able to show the reader, specifically new Iron Man readers, why Tony is such a great hero and should be considered as one of the best. Tony’s will power is far above that of your normal hero and he is one of the only heroes who would go to such great lengths, such as turning himself into a vegetable, in order to protect the world from the likes of Norman Osborn.
After being so vilified for so many years Tony’s actions in this arc prove that even with everyone in the world against him that Tony is a true hero. And by taking such great lengths to save the world especially those in the hero community this action by Tony can be seen as the first step in his redemption in the eyes of those who have turn his back on him. Fraction effectively drove this aspect of the story home as the citizens in the country watched in horror at the sight of Norman about to finish Tony off.
Fraction was also able to show that even with all that happened between them Thor, like Captain America, is one of Tony’s closest friends and one that he trust with his life. With the Marvel Universe supposedly entering the “Hero Age” after Dark Reign this can be seen as the first step into the next phase of the Marvel U. Also this action by Tony can become the lightning rod that brings the hero community together to fight Norman and his reign with the upcoming Siege event.
Also I got to give Fraction a lot of credit for writing a very good Norman Osborn. After how Joe Kelly wrote the character in American Son and Johnathan Hickman wrote him recently in the Dark Reign: The List – Secret Warriors this is the best writing for the character. Fraction shows both the calm and angry side of the character very well. I liked the frustration in Norman’s voice when he finds out he can’t kill Tony and when he calls in his HAMMER agents to pick Tony’s body up.
And as he has previously done throughout his run some of the best writing Fraction provides is for Maria Hill’s character. Throughout this arc Maria has been the one character that has most benefited from the current situation. After being the bitch everyone loves to hate Fraction develops Maria into a much more likable character and shows that she does have a lot of depth to her. And her moment to shine in this issue was nicely done as she orders all of the former SHIELD agents, now HAMMER agents, to stand down.
I have never been a big fan of Salvador Larroca’s artwork but I have to admit that this is definitely his best Invincible Iron Man issue to date. While the inconsistencies that have plagued his artwork throughout the series still exist I really like how he drew the non-fight between Iron Patriot and Iron Man. He draws some great armor. And even how he drew his humans in this issue were much better than all past Invincible Iron Man issue, though they still looked stiff.
The Bad: With that said Invincible Iron Man #19 still suffers from some big defects. And truth is that the same problems that I have had with this title since the beginning continues to nag this title. For all of Fraction’s talent as a writer he just doesn’t seem to have fix these problems this title has had which is highly disappointing.
The biggest problem this issue, and story arc, had is that it took way too long to get to the point of having Norman vs. Tony in the Iranian desert. This arc should have been cut to be no more than eight issues. Because by the time we got to this twelfth and final issue of this arc it was a bit hard to care for the big non-fight between Norman and Tony. It actually took me until the four or fifth page of seeing the fight for me to start caring to Norman completely dominating the fight. And for a big finale like this as a reader I should already be hyped to see the fight since it is what this story arc since the beginning was building towards. It is just poor writing on Fractions part that proves he stretch this arc way to long.
Also I hate how all writers feel like they can’t tell epic stories without them being stretched out to last for almost a year. As Fraction prove here it really just hurts the overall flow to the story as by the time we get to the end the reader is bored with seeing the same thing happen. And for most of this arc the characters were in the same position they were in issue #10 or #11.
Tony walking through the desert was just so boring and did not need to be in this issue. We have had about nine issues of that already. At this point we already know how desperate Tony is to get to the last check point and we did not need more of the same. That scene before Norman reaches him is just a complete eye roller and makes me want this issue to end at that point.
The same can be said about Norman’s evil rant throughout this issue. After eleven issues of Norman ranting about how he can’t wait to kill Tony I did not need to hear more of that or for Fraction to insert dialogue to show how desperate Norman is to find Tony. The dialogue felt like it was written for new readers who were just coming into this series with this final issue of World’s Most Wanted. And that is not needed since most if not all the readers of this issue have read this arc from the start or at least the midway point. It was unnecessary dialogue and he should have cut a lot of Norman’s rant by half of what we got.
Also while Fraction tries his best to make me care for Pepper I really do not care about the character anymore. All of her dialogue just feels so forced. Pepper’s character just comes off as a very stiff character who is just there to be there. Even her banter throughout the issue felt forced. Her character has just become way to boring and uniteresting.
Overall: Invincible Iron Man #19 was an average ending to this year long arc. For sure World’s Most Wanted will be an arc that appeals more to new Iron Man fans. Fraction writing in this arc and his whole run in this title has been for new readers not long time Iron Man fans. So for long time Iron Man fans this will probably be more of the same for the character which may bore them. So I can only recommend getting this issue and arc to new Iron Man fans.