By: Matt Fraction (writer), Salvador Larroca (art), Frank D’Armata (colors) & Joe Caramanga (letters)

The Story: Entrepreneurship is hard!  Tony Stark continues rebuilding his new company and the Hammer’s Detroit Steel has a link to an old enemy.

What’s Good: For a comic that again features zero action and lots of talking heads (i.e. exactly like the last few issues), I enjoyed this issue a lot more.  I think this enjoyment is due to (a) Fraction’s dialog being a lot tighter in this issue, (b) the story isn’t just peddling in circles any longer and (c) Larroca’s art is less distracting.  Let’s touch on these in order….

We sure are getting a lot of talking heads at Marvel now and that’s to be expected when most of the books are written by guys with a background in crime and espionage titles (like Fraction).  That means that we don’t get a lot of things blowing up, but when these writers are on their game, the dialog comes off as very crisp and natural.  I’ve heard lots of complaints about dialog driven books, but this is what establishes the character and makes us care about their fate.  Fraction has a great concept of who Tony Stark is and writes to that image very well.

The story is also coming along.  Mostly that is a product of where we are in the story arc and that Fraction needed to get on with things anyway, but I really like that he’s created a link between the younger Hammer missus and the younger Stane.  I’m not a big enough nerd to pull out my earlier issues of IIM to see if I can find her in the background of any panels, but I do like connections in my stories that reward folks for sticking with a title for a few years.

I won’t say the art was “good”, but it was “not distracting”.  This type of photo-reference jumps the shark for me when I start to spend more time guessing what actor was used for model (and time on IMDB trying to see if I guessed correct) than I do following the story.  Perhaps I’m so used to seeing Lost’s Josh Holloway as Tony Stark that I’m used to it now OR perhaps it is just because Lost is over……anyhow, I’m okay with that now and Larroca pretty much avoided that trap with other characters in this issue.

What’s Not So Good: I’d like to see a little more action.  There was more talk about building repulsor cars than there was about the bad guys in this issue.  This was more like a comic version of Monster Garage:  “In this episode, the boys attach repulsor coils to this 1983 VW Rabbit!” C’mon Mr. Fraction!

I also do need to pick at the art a LITTLE bit.  I wish Larroca would just pick a model for Maria Hill and be done with it.  She looks different in every fifth panel which is amazing because she’s been a co-starring character in IIM for ~20 issues.  One panel shows her in profile and gave me a strong Natalie Portman vibe!

Conclusion: The story is coming around on this arc, but I wish we had more stuff blowing up.

Grade: B-

– Dean Stell