Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Salvador Larroca
Marvel should just call this, Iron Man: The Movie Adaptation, and get it over with. This Iron Man does not even have Extremis powers. It does not explicitly say this, but it's obvious Fraction either has no clue how they work or has been mandated to ignore them in favour of luring in the movie crowd. He has the suit and the body sheath and all that jazz, but that's about the only link between the two.
I'll spare going into all the details, as I've harped on the movie oriented writing of this book in previous reviews, but I can't stress how annoying it is to read so many different versions of Iron Man, whether it's the strawman Iron Man painted the villain in most books, like Thor, or the man struggling with his guilt over the death of Cap and trying to do the right thing, as seen in Director of SHIELD and Captain America, or this playboy billionaire movie version in Invinicible Iron Man.
I understand why the book is being written this way and I recognize that is a really great book despite the mischaracterization, but it's just really hard for me to come to terms with after all I've read in Director of SHIELD and his other appearances over the past 5-10 years.
Suffice to say, this issue reads almost like a recap of said Iron Man movie. We find out about Stane's father and his taking over of Tony's company and the eventual death when he fought using the Iron Monger suit and it helps define the younger Stane's motivations and desire to seek revenge on Tony.
As for the explosion at the end of last issue, it seems the building was almost completely vacant outside of the party, which was a few hundred people, so what should have been a huge deal was downplayed quite a bit. Yes, it's kind of dickish to count a few hundred deaths as being "downplayed", but the body count should have been much, much higher based on the setting and what we saw of the previous suicide bombings.
However, Pepper Potts, who left the party early due to Tony's playboy attitude last issue, did not escape unscathed. She was trapped under falling debris and this somehow lead to her having shrapnel lodged inside her heart, similar to Tony's origin story. This leads to Tony whipping out the movie chest plate / power supply, which he no longer uses, and has it installed in Pepper's chest. Whether she becomes Iron Maiden (throws up the horns!) after this or not remains to be seen.
Oh, there were only three survivors of this suicide bombing and, obviously, Pepper and Tony are two of them and the other one, also painfully obvious, was Ezekiel Stane, who was responsible for the bombing in the first place. Tony wants to arrest him, but Maria Hill, who loooks nothing like Maria Hill in this issue, tells him they have no evidence and he is in a foreign country where they have no authority, so he's left to roam free for now.
Finally, Ezekiel's new powers have been causing him problem, what with burning off his skin and all, and he's decided he's had enough of that and whips up his own suit, er, "uniform" to counteract the burning flesh thing and he made a "totally sweet helmet", too. To be frank, I could see this working as the sequel for the Iron Man movie. It would build on Iron Monger and is grounded in reality enough to be quite easily doable and the son avenging the father cliche works well in movie form. Add the "evil opposite" factor with Stane's armour and it's a perfect Hollywood sequel.
Verdict - Check It. It's far too cavalier with regard to Tony Stark's personality and how the Iron Man armour currently works to the point it pulls me out of the story. People new to Iron Man or only know him from the movie will more than likely love this interpretation and have none of the problems I am having with this. I'm hoping I'll get used to it as the series goes on, but, for now, I can't give this anything higher than a Check It.