So far, this latest Iron Man story, “World’s Most Wanted,” has been dull and feels like recycled plot points from old Iron Man stories. Still, the last issue of Invincible Iron Man showed signs of improvement as Fraction finally decide to move the story along. Maybe Fraction will continue the momentum and deliver a good read with Invincible Iron Man #14. One can hope. Now let’s hit the review.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Story: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Art: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Overall: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue starts with Tony in his old Iron Man MK IV armor flying through Russia. Tony is on the run so that Norman’s H.A.M.M.E.R agents don’t catch him. Suddenly, a bunch of missiles are launched from a mountain. The missiles knock Tony to the ground below.
Tony is attacked by Crimson Dynamo (Dmitri Bukharin). Dmitri picks Tony up and starts to crush him with a bear hug. Just as Dmitri is about to finish Tony off; Tony tells him that he is Tony Stark and that he just changed his appearance and is using his old armor. Once Dmitri realizes that it is Tony, Dmitri gives Tony a hug and tells Tony that he is sorry for attacking him. Tony then tells Dmitri that he needs his help.
The scene shifts to Penn Station Bus Terminal in Newark, NJ where a security guard inspects one of the buses. The guard sees a blond woman sleeping in the bus. The guard wakes the woman up. The woman attacks the guard with a knife. The woman takes of her wig and we see that it is Maria Hill in disguise. Maria runs out of the bus before the cops come.
Elsewhere, Pepper Potts meets with the doctor (who did the operation on her heart and implanted her with Repulsor Generator) in a truck that is traveling through the Holland Tunnel. Pepper tells the doctor everything that has happened with her. The doctor states that he and his driver have been helping out a lot of the fired S.H.I.E.L.D agents rebuild their lives.
The doctor and Pepper talk about their current situation and about Norman Osborn’s reign. Suddenly, J.A.R.V.I.S interrupts and informs Pepper that he has detected some repulsor technology in Russia. The doctor asks Pepper what she calls herself. Pepper takes off and says her superhero name is Rescue. (Really? That’s the best Pepper can come up with. Iron Maiden would have been much better.)
Back in Russia, Tony and Dmitri examine the Iron Man armor. Tony says that because it is an older version that Dmitri was able to completely damage it in their short fight. Dmitri asks Tony how he is doing. Tony responds by informing Dmitri about his current situation and how he is deleting everything from his mind in order to make sure that all the data in his head does not get in the wrong hands. Dmitri suggests that Tony throw himself in a volcano. Tony replies that it is not that bad. Yet. (So I guess Tony and Norman have just been playing hide and seek so far.)
Tony tells Dmitri that he needs to get to the next Stark facility located in Kirensk so that he can recharge and continue the deleting process. Dmitri asks how Tony plans on getting all the way to Kirensk. Tony smirks. We cut to Dmitri helping Tony put on the Crimson Dynamo armor. Tony takes off. Tony uses his knowledge of Russian to pass himself off as the real Crimson Dynamo and avoid being attacked by the Russian military.
We cut to Massachusetts. Pepper finishes saving the grain silo. Pepper asks J.A.R.V.I.S if he is sure he sensed repulsor technology in Russia. J.A.R.V.I.S says he is sure. Pepper then begins flying to Russia. We then see that Pepper has been watched by some H.A.M.M.E.R agents this entire time. The H.A.M.M.E.R agents send a report to Norman and inform Norman that Pepper is heading towards Russia.
Over at Avengers Tower, Norman receives his agents’ message and tells Ms. Hand to call to one of the Russian officers. Ms. Hand says she already placed the call and puts Norman through with Dmitri. Norman tells Dmitri that Tony has been located in Russia and that Pepper is heading his way with her new armor. Norman asks Dmitri for permission to enter Russia in order to capture both Tony and Pepper.
Dmitri denies Norman’s request. Dmitri tells Norman that he may have fooled everyone in the US, but that Norman has not fooled him. Dmitri says that when he sees Pepper that he will welcome her and show her around town. Dmitri then tells Norman “Go to Hell. And don’t call back.” This pisses Norman off. Norman then tells Ms. Hand they need new stuff.
The scene shifts to the Garment District in New York City were Natasha is being informed by one of her old spy buddies that Maria Hill has gone crazy and is heading Natasha’s way. Natasha thanks her friend and starts thinking that there is no way that Maria could have gone crazy.
Natasha decides to go outside. As Natasha walks onto the sidewalk she turns around and sees a big black spider painted on her front door. Natasha looks up and sees Maria Hill on the roof of her apartment building.
Returning to Russia, Pepper is flying through snow asking J.A.R.V.I.S if he has detected Tony yet. J.A.R.V.I.S tells Pepper that he can sense some residual repulsor noise, but he is unable to know where it is coming from. Suddenly, Pepper is attacked from behind.
Pepper turns around to see that it was Crimson Dynamo who attacked her. Pepper then hears Tony’s voice coming from the Crimson Dynamo armor. Pepper asks J.A.R.V.I.S to confirm Crimson Dynamo’s identity. As J.A.R.V.I.S works on that request, Tony continues to ask who Pepper is. Pepper flies towards Tony and pins him down on the mountain side. Pepper takes off her helmet and tells Tony that it is her.
The scene shifts back to Avengers Tower were Norman is calling Madame Masque to ask where she is. She tells Norman that she is in Russia. Norman asks Masque how she knows were Tony is located. Madame Masque responds by saying that she is looking right at Tony. We then see that Masque has her scope set on Pepper ready to shoot Pepper and Tony. End of issue.
The Good: Invincible Iron Man #14 was an average read. Matt Fraction continues to move “World’s Most Wanted” at a slow and methodical pace. The method of storytelling that Fraction is using has allowed him to develop Tony into a character that the reader can have plenty of sympathy for given Tony’s current predicament.
As Rokk mentioned in his preview for this issue, “World’s Most Wanted” is really targeted towards new Iron Man readers which is not completely a bad thing. If there is one weakness in the comic book industry it would be how inaccessible the characters and their titles are to new readers.
While Marvel has done a better job in making their books more accessible than DC has, it is still kind of hard to get into many books without having read some of the past stories. And that takes money and time. So, because of that, I don’t mind what Fraction is doing with Invincible Iron Man and this current “World’s Most Wanted” arc. So far, Fraction has provided things for both old and new readers to enjoy.
As for this issue, I continue to enjoy the sub-plot of Tony losing his intellect with each passing moment. It gives this Tony on the run story something that feels new to a story that, honestly, has been told many times before on this title. Seeing Tony having to continue to have to dumb down his Iron Man equipment and use his old Iron Man suits again makes me wonder how long Tony can keep doing this until he is unable to compensate for his losing intellect.
It was cool seeing Tony get Dmitri Bukharin to help him out with Norman. The scene were Dmitri basically told Norman to go f— himself was great. It has been rare to see a character in the Marvel Universe totally call out Norman and how he got the power that he currently has. It helps to show that while the US may have accepted Norman’s reign that the rest of the world still does not trust the US system of government.
One of the things I will continue to give Fraction credit for is how he has handled Maria Hill’s character. Maria has always come off as the character the reader loves to hate. And Fraction even portrayed Maria that way early in his run on Invincible Iron Man. But, in “World’s Most Wanted” Maria has been able to rise above that and show that she can be more than a one-dimensional character.
Maria’s part of the story has been the plot line that I have been most interested in throughout this story arc. It should be fun seeing how Black Widow ends up figuring into the equation. It appears that Maria and Black Widow will end up teaming-up in order to find Captain America and deliver Tony’s message to him.
Salvedor Larroca’s art in this issue was the best we have had so far. And I have to credit Frank D’Armata for the improvement in the artwork. D’Armata’s coloring gave a lot more life to Larroca’s stiff figures and they weren’t as shiny as they were in previous issues. Also, I continue to enjoy Larroca’s and D’Armata’s artwork when it comes to the art for all the suits of armor.
The Bad: Invincible Iron Man #14 had plenty of things to dislike about it. Even though some may enjoy the slow and methodical pace that Fraction is employing to bring Tony back to the “basics,” that is no excuse for not giving us much forward progress in the story. Other than Maria Hill, none of the other characters in the story have made much progress. All of the plot lines involving the other characters are almost in the same exact position they were in a few issues ago. And that is completely unacceptable when the writer is seven issues into the story. By now we already know the current status quo of the characters and it is time to move the story along.
I do not understand why Fraction felt the need to narrate this issue, but it was annoying as hell. Everything that Fraction narrates in this issue is only point out the obvious in each scene. Maybe Fraction thought he was being cute by pointing out everything that was happening, but it just killed the flow of this issue. Fraction’s narration even further slowed down a story that was already moving at a slow pace.
Another thing that I disliked about this issue, and I have disliked for most of Fraction’s run, is what is going on with Pepper. With each passing issue I am finding myself less and less interested in Pepper’s character. I am now at the point where I simply find Pepper flat out annoying.
Pepper has not added anything to the story other than be a nuisance to Tony as she does one stupid thing after another. Pepper’s search for Tony right after being detained by Norman was just a dumb move as she does not even think that Norman may be tracking her after their “meeting.” And Pepper’s superhero name was just downright stupid. ‘Rescue’ is the best she can do for a superhero name? She should have stuck to being called Iron Woman. It might not be original, but at least it sounds better than Rescue.
Also, I felt that Fraction really blew his opportunity to make Madame Masque a viable villain in this issue. I don’t know what Tony has done to the Marvel executives, maybe Tony sleep with one of their girlfriends, but why can’t he get at least a B-list villain to go against? At best, Madame Masque is a D-list villain.
Another problem is that Madame Masque just shows up out of nowhere. At no point are we shown how Madame Masque knew Tony was in Russia. It would have been much better if we could have seen her tracking Tony down by searching around the previous locations Tony was seen and “asking” people for what they know about Tony’s current location. Unfortuntately we do not get any of that. All the reader gets are three panels at the end of this issue showing that Masque is in Russia. It was simply lazy storytelling by Fraction and that is unacceptable considering the slow pace that he is using for this story.
Overall: Invincible Iron Man #14 was another average issue. There are signs of improvement by Fraction, but so far “World’s Most Wanted” has simply felt like a poor combination of older Iron Man stories. For the most part, this is a story that will be enjoyed much more by new Iron Man fans than those that have been reading Iron Man before the Iron Man movie was released.