Fear Itself #7.3: Iron Man
Written by Matt Fraction
Art by Salvador Larroca and Frank D’Armata
Fear Itself is finally over, well, aside from Fearless. They milked it as much as possible for over half a year, and then they did three more issues on top of it. The Captain America issue was fine for what it was, and set the pace for Brubaker’s stories going forward by bringing Bucky back. The Thor issue gave us his funeral while failing to make us feel for those who would care the most, and then set up Tanarus. The Iron Man issue….it reminds us of both the strengths and the weaknesses that have been prominent throughout Fraction’s run. It’s a mixed bag, which I guess would make it par for the course. Three issues, a good one, a bad one, and one right in the middle.
Tony Stark spends the issue talking to an imprisoned Grey Gargoyle, who is no longer empowered by the hammer that made him such a beast. That’s our framing sequence, as everything else that happens go along with that. Stark is talking to his old foe, who is in no place to respond, about the atrocities that he committed in Paris. Whether or not it was Gargoyle’s fault, if the hammer had been the true enemy, that isn’t really the point here. Stark mulls over the events of the last few days, and despite that heroes don’t kill, you really do get the impression that Tony is tempted to just blast the Grey Gargoyle’s head clean off of his neck. The whole framing is done in a manner that Fraction has employed before in this title, and it works. While we see Tony’s one sided conversation we are shown just what is going on in his head by manner of the last few days. There’s no answer about why he’s Destroyer Iron Man in some pages and back to normal for the conversation, but hey, maybe he can do that at will.
The rest of the issue is based around what Gargoyle did, in turning Paris to stone. There are countless dead, but it’s a formerly living statue of a mother holding her daughter, the fear prevalent on their faces, that sets in Tony’s mind. It’s that image we keep coming back, regardless of where he takes his problems. Well, I take that back, he takes his problems to Odin and the two have yet another confrontation where Stark presumes to know better than the All-Father, and once again Odin humors the mortal. Stark wants to know how these horrible things can happen, how Odin can allow them to happen. He wants the answers that a man of science would seek after, while meanwhile Odin sees this mortal questioning him yet again and reminds him of his place. Why does Odin allow things to happen? Because these atrocities are just a blink of an eye to him, these are things he has seen before and will see again. The scope of this incident stands in Tony’s mind because it’s the biggest thing he’s come across, but to Odin it’s just another example of something he’s deal with for eons. The contrast between the two of them is probably the best part of the issue.
Salvador Larocca has been on Iron Man for a long time, and I’m just realizing this now. He and Frac launched Invincible Iron Man to go along with the first movie, and he’s STILL here. I understand writers sitting in place, but an artist? At Marvel? This has to be some sort of non-Mark Bagley record. He brings the same level of visuals we’ve grown to expect out of him on Iron Man, and while it’s not really spectacular at this point, it’s still really damn good. There’s also a great job done with the colors, from the sort of blue fade over the room containing Grey Gargoyle, to the fight between Tony and Odin.
Fear Itself’s legacy is probably going to be that Marvel struck fear into the hearts and minds of readers who might think more than twice before hopping on board the companies next big event. There was potential in the end of it to maybe find some sort of redemption, but given that it was only really the Brubaker followup that worked across the board, the fear has been struck into the name of Matt Fraction. He went from Marvel’s next big thing to the writer of a horrific event who dragged his own titles through the mud for it. Iron Man is going to have to pick up from being a drunk for three issues, which is probably going to be a lot easier given the way the issue ends. The biggest impact of Fear Itself, if you followed Iron Man, was the destruction of Paris. And to end the issue, Odin hits a reset button and everyone stone comes back to life. So now it never has to be mentioned again.
That killed it for me, to be honest. Out of everything that happened here, the reset button being hit at the end was the last straw for me. Why go through all the shock and awe if you’re just going to pull a swerve? And not even a good swerve. Odin’s new name is plot device.
Tags: Fear Itself, Invincible Iron Man, Iron Man, matt fraction, Reviews