By Matt Fraction (Writer), Salvador Larocca (Art), and Frank D’Armata (Colors)

Some Thoughts Before The Review: In all honesty, I am a bit disappointed that The Invincible Iron Man is now one of the feature titles of the Dark Reign period. I think I would rather read a truly original Matt Fraction helmed Tony Stark story rather than something shaped almost entirely by the current state of the Marvel Universe. That said, I’m fairly certain Fraction will be able to make the absolute most of the situation without sacrificing what made his first Invincible Iron Man arc such a great read.

The Story: With Norman Osborn and H.A.M.M.E.R. positioned to take the positions once held by Tony Stark and S.H.I.E.L.D., some major players in the Marvel universe find themselves either out of a job or just starting one. The latest Invincible Iron Man takes that idea and runs with it by focusing almost entirely on the last days of Mariah Hill and Tony Stark on government payroll. Turns out, Mr. Stark has a few tricks up his sleeve for “Commander” Osborn.

What’s Good: Despite the massive universe shakeup that took place between the seventh and eighth issues, the series (thankfully) doesn’t miss a beat. While fairly slow, the introspective narration in Invincible Iron Man #8 does a great job of positioning both the series and the characters for the near future. And thanks to Matt Fraction’s clever script and his handling of Tony Stark’s relationships with Mariah Hill and Pepper Potts, it is now clear that the series will continue to focus more on the characters as opposed to the hoopla surrounding Dark Reign.

What’s Not So Good: Salvador Larocca’s art style works best when the series calls for scenes featuring technology or the Iron Man suit. Unfortunately, the first part of the Dark Reign arc is more about the people than the heroics. While I wouldn’t say anything in the issue looks particularly bad, it never really rises above average. Everything looks solid and competent, but it never really does justice to the book.

Conclusion: The Invincible Iron Man continues to be a must read series thanks to Matt Fraction’s masterful handling of Tony Stark and his supporting cast. If you haven’t jumped on board yet, now is the perfect time to add the series to your pull list.

Grade: B+

-Kyle Posluszny