Up to this point this “World’s Most Wanted” arc in Invincible Iron Man has been a real miss. Fraction has not done anything that has been very impressive so far as the situation he has put Tony in is similar situation he has been in previous story arcs. Still as a fan of the character I am hopeful that Fraction can turn things around on Invincible Iron Man. Now let’s hit the review.
Writer: Matt Fraction
Artist: Salvador Larroca
Colorist: Frank D’Armata
Story Rating: 7 Night Girls out of 10
Art Rating: 6 Night Girls out of 10
Overall Rating: 6.5 Night Girls out of 10
Synopsis: The issue starts with some H.A.M.M.E.R agents searching for Tony on the beach but the only thing they find is the helmet Tony was wearing washes up on the beach.
In Bayeux, France Tony is attending a tech fair to buy parts that will help him simplify how the Iron Man armor works in order for him to continue to use the armor even as his IQ continues to degrade. As he is looking through different parts he hears some guy on his cell phone contacting some H.A.M.M.E.R agents through his hearing aid. Once he hears enough Tony attacks the guy and throws his cell to the other side of the fair and starts running in order to get away from the fair.
Elsewhere in Austin, Texas the Controller is in process to turn Maria Hill into one of his mindless followers. During the process Hill flashes through her past: her father screaming at her as a kid, her time in the military being reprimanded by her superiors and then by both Nick Fury and Tony when she was in SHIELD, and finally one of the SHIELD agents telling her goodbye. After going through those memories Hill starts resisting the Controller’s mind control process.
Over at Avengers Headquarters Pepper is detained and imprisoned by H.A.M.M.E.R agents and prepared for questioning by Norman Osborn. In her cell Norman starts to question Pepper about her armor. Pepper says that her armor is not made for destruction but for search and rescue missions.
When Norman tells Pepper to get out of the suit so H.A.M.M.E.R can examine the suit she says that she cannot because JARVIS, the suits A.I., has shut off and she is now stuck in the suit. After being frustrated with Pepper’s answer Norman finally ask her were Tony is hiding. Pepper says the only thing she knows is that Tony put her in charge of his company and took off even though she told him to turn himself in.
Back in France, Tony is still on the run and now being chased by Shockwave. Tony pulls his best Jason Bourne impression by using his jet shoes to jump to the next building. Tony does not stick the landing and as he tries to recover Shockwave drives him through the roof of the building he was on. As Shockwave is about to finish Tony off Tony grabs a hold of one of Shockwaves legs and sends an electric current through Shockwave’s suit that knocks him out.
The scene then shifts back to Texas where Hill finally breaks free from the Controllers control but as soon as she does the Controller orders all of his followers to kill her. In order to cause a distraction Hill cuts all the power cords from the device the Controller was using to control his followers. She then uses those power cords to swing across the room to make her escape.
We go back to Avengers Tower were Norman is letting Pepper go free as she was not a prisoner in the first place. Norman tells Pepper that if she flies any higher than 4,500 feet, flies at a speed faster than 200 klicks, interference with law enforcement, or even jaywalks that he will make sure that she is arrested and then he will run experiments on her suit and the repulsor unit in her chest. Norman than exits the room but not before telling his H.A.M.M.E.R agents that if she flies of the roof to shot her on sight.
Back to Texas, Hill, with the back of her neck bleeding, makes it to one of the companies computers and copies what Tony told her to copy on to a flashdrive. She then throws a chair through a window and enters that room to get Tony’s “Drive X.” After doing all of that she finally makes her escape from the building and drives of in a pick-up truck hoping she can find Captain America before she dies of blood loss.
The scene shifts again to the Hoods place were he and Madame Masque talk to Norman about how Shockwave found Tony in France but failed to capture him. Norman frustrated with the Hood’s men’s incompetence ask for Madame Masque to meet him in the Avengers Tower alone of which she agrees to.
Over at the Avengers Tower, Masque ask why Norman called her there. Norman then ask her to follow him into one of Tony’s old rooms that he and his scientist finally got up and running. It turns out this room has the location of all of Tony’s armory facilities were he keeps his various Iron Man suits. Norman tells Masque that she will use this room to locate were Tony is located alone.
The scene then shifts to a room where Tony is working on simplifying the Iron Man armor in order to accommodate his losing intelligence. As he is working Tony suffers from some sort of attack and starts coiffing up blood. At the same time Pepper flies of and tells JARVIS to locate Tony. End of issue.
The Good: Invincible Iron Man #13 was an improvement over the past few lackluster issues. Fraction had good pacing with this issue as he kept the issue moving from scene to scene never stopping to give the reader slow moments. And after six issues of mostly set-up the new status quo, that includes this issue, of Tony and his supporting cast it seems that Fraction is finally ready actually start the second phase of “World’s Most Wanted.”
As Rokk has mentioned in the past, for any Iron Man fan that has been following his titles before Civil War and the movie, the current situation that Fraction has put Tony in is nothing new for the character. Tony being on the run from the government and having all his resources being taken away has happened many times in the past. However, what I am liking about this new “Tony on the run” story is that it is not only his resources that are taken away but also his intelligence is diminishing.
It is interesting seeing how Tony has to continuously dumb down how his Iron Man armor works in order to accommodate for his continued loss of intelligence. What will be interesting to see is that there will be a point that Tony cannot simplify his suit enough to make up for his loss of intelligence and he will need the help of someone like Pepper or Hill to not be caught by Norman and H.A.M.M.E.R.
Another thing that I have been enjoying since the start of this story arc is how Fraction has been able to turn Maria Hill from unlikable bitch that the reader loved to hate into a much more fun and interesting character. The sub-plot of the mission Tony gave Maria Hill to find Captain America and deliver the information he gave her has become the most interesting part of this storyline.
I liked how Fraction showed that Maria Hill’s take no shit attitude helped her break free from the Controller making her one of his mindless followers. And with her unable to stop even though the back of her neck is bleeding adds more to her search for Captain America as she may bleed to death before she can find him. Also it may just be with how important the information she is carrying that she will start to be chased by H.A.M.M.E.R agents. That should make her sub-plot in this story even more interesting in future issues.
I have not been a big fan of Slavador Larroca as I find all of his characters to look too stiff and dull. But I will give Larroca credit as he finally seems to be improving how he draws characters that aren’t in armor with this issue though they still looked a bit stiff and dull. And I will say that he is at his best when he is able to draw the various armors in this title. I really liked his design of Shockwave’s armor.
The Bad: While I do like how Tony intelligence continues to disappear it still does not take away from the fact that “World’s Most Wanted” isn’t anything new for Tony. And other than that “the Tony’s dwindling intelligence” plotline, this story isn’t much different from great Iron Man stories like “Demon in a Bottle” or “Armor Wars.”
Even though Norman is the main villain of this story and the one that is putting Tony through the hell he is currently in; there is the prospect that Tony will not be the one to take down Norman. This is because Norman is not only showing up in Invincible Iron Man but also in New Avengers and pretty soon in Amazing Spider-Man as the main villain. It could easily be Spider-Man or the Avengers who take down Norman and if Bendis has his way it would probably be one of his pet characters Luke Cage or Spider-Woman. And with how Marvel has not allowed Tony to be the hero he should be I wouldn’t be surprised if Tony isn’t able to be the one to take Norman down which takes away some of the weight of Fraction’s story.
Also with each passing issue of Invincible Iron Man I find myself caring less and less about Pepper Potts. In every scene that she is in I find myself bored with what her character says. And Pepper’s role as Iron Woman doesn’t add anymore interest to the character.
Whenever it comes to the dialogue that Fraction gives Pepper I feel like I am reading something from a fanfiction and not the writing of that of an actual writer. I really don’t understand how Pepper could make such a dumb move by just going out to look for Tony by flying around instead of actually thinking the situation out and coming up with a much more brighter idea than just flying from Avengers Tower to find him.
But maybe the thing that has annoyed me the most are the lack of actual villains that are of real threat. With how many heroes and villains that Norman has under his control that he could send out to find Tony he sends out no name villains like The Hood, Madame Masque, and Shockwave. Really? That is the best Norman can do? Just get a bunch of Z-list villains to hunt down the person who is said to be the World’s Most Wanted?
With how much of a danger Tony poses to Norman’s reign I would think that Norman would at least use at least a B- or C-list villain. It is kind of a spit in the face of a character like Tony, who is suppose to be one of Marvel’s A-list heroes, that Fraction and Marvel can’t give him better villains to face. Plus if a character as powerful as Namor could not take down Tony in the last issue how does Fraction think that we should believe someone like The Hood and his band of losers stand a chance? But maybe Fraction can surprise us and make Madame Masque a viable villain for Tony to face, which probably won’t happen.
Overall: After suffering from 5 issues of nothing but set-up of the new status quo for Tony, his supporting characters, and Marvel U in general this “World’s Most Wanted” arc is showing signs of life. Hopefully this sign of improvement will be carried on to future issues.