Fraction continues to write the hell out of this book. It’s freaking fantastic! He’s bringing the Golden Avenger back in a big way. If you liked the movie, if you thought he was a dick during Civil War, or even if you love good comics, you should read this book. But I think you already knew all that. I want to talk about what you might not know in this issue.
Like all Dark Reign books, Norman Osborn, the new Skrull (In the sense that I will have to type his name an annoyingly large amount of times in the coming months), is the villain here. What’s funny is that this issue makes Dark Reign look far more interesting than Bendis’ comics have. Osborn is so terrifying. We are left chilled to the bone because someone that insane has so much power. Fraction achieves this in one damn page. Part of that credit goes to Larroca, but I’ll talk about him later.
This comic is special. I love the fact that the H.A.M.M.E.R. uniforms are green and purple. I love how Tony tricks Maria. I love the way Norman fights Tony. I love that the only combat we get in an Iron Man book is from Maria Hill. I love that for some reason we get a free five-page preview of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (It has beautiful Skottie Young art). I love this series.
Ok, about Larroca’s art. I’ve consistently complained about his work in this book. However, I’ve finally warmed up to him. I recently read an interview from Matt Fraction about what he thought of the photo-reference technique. He doesn’t like it any more than I do. It’s refreshing to hear a writer actually criticize his artist, right? Anyway, I always knew that I dug Larroca’s sci-fi look. His futuristic buildings, his armors and his gadgets all look fantastic. But Fraction demands more in his Iron Man. I still don’t like Larroca’s faces, but just about everything else he does is fine. I finally realized that this issue. He makes Tony’s whacky brain gizmo look cool. His fight scene was dynamic and engaging. So Mr. Larroca, I’m cool with you now. Although, did you make a continuity error in this issue? Maria clearly does not have handcuffs on the bottom-right panel of page 15. However, she does have them on page 21. What’s up?
Fraction handles these characters perfectly. He provides a selfless and heroic, albeit flawed, Tony Stark. Fraction has proved he is a master of mainstream comics with little action. I can’t wait to see what happens next.