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Tony's Endgame

January 5, 2010

     The yearlong Invincible Iron Man epic, World’s Most Wanted, has come to an end with a bang followed by a whimper.  That may sound weird, but it’s true.  Madame Masque manages to defeat Pepper Potts and reports in to Norman Osborn.  Osborn manages to trick Colonel Dmitri Bukharin into allowing his forces into Russia, and one of the H.A.M.M.E.R. stooges figures out Maria Hill’s location.  Tony Stark arrives in Afghanistan, where his journey as Iron Man all began, and H.A.M.M.E.R. captures Maria Hill and Black Widow.  As Tony continues his brain drain, he gets attacked by a couple of Afghani kids who want to become rich like him.  But he intimidates them into leaving and continues on with his final mission.  The same idiot from H.A.M.M.E.R. finds Tony Stark’s location and gives it up, even though he seems unwilling to do so.  As Tony flies off in his original armor, Victoria Hand opens up the Crimson Dynamo armor they picked up when they rescued Madame Masque, finding inside… the real Madame Masque.  The person they picked up was actually Pepper, wearing her clothes.  Osborn suits up in his Iron Patriot armor and flies off to finish things with Tony Stark, while Pepper contacts the Rescue armor to upload a virus into H.A.M.M.E.R.’s computers.  That H.A.M.M.E.R. twit, feeling a change of heart, tries to lead Osborn away from Tony, but he gets caught.  The two of them start fighting as Pepper, Maria, and Black Widow run through Stark Tower.  They recover Stark’s drive, which Osborn’s techs couldn’t figure out, Pepper gets in her armor, and Maria Hill manages to convince some former members of S.H.I.E.L.D. in H.A.M.M.E.R. to let them go.  The Rescue armor tells all the media outlets around the world about the fight between Osborn and Tony, and the whole thing goes on the news as Stark refuses to fight back.  Shortly after Osborn captures him, he goes brain-dead, and according to Stark’s will, he is placed in the care of a Dr. Donald Blake.  Tony’s brain-deadedness would be the aforementioned whimper.

     Wow.  That was one whirlwind of an arc.  Probably will go down as one of the top Iron Man arcs… ever.  Matt Fraction managed to use the Dark Reign setting entirely to his advantage, writing a great story all about Tony and his efforts to outwit Osborn, while continuing his superb Pepper Potts subplot and fleshing out the rather thin character of Maria Hill.  Poor Hill is rather messed up after her encounter with the Controller, seeing threats just about everywhere.  And how brilliant of Tony, putting himself in the care of the man whose alter-ego is none other than Thor.  He’s in good hands.  That is, if he can even make it out of being brain-dead.  With all the ominous teasers relating to the next story, Stark Disassembled, it’s doubtful if he will even make it out of this alive.  One teaser even hints that Steve Rogers, the recently returned Captain America, may become Iron Man.  Don’t know how I feel about that…  Anyway, Matt Fraction has made a whopper of a tale here.  And I love how it all comes full circle with him returning to where it all started.  I’m not the biggest fan of the reimagining of his origin being in Afghanistan, but Fraction uses it well.  Salvador Larroca’s art here is also of the same quality as his best fare, but I still stand by what I said, that this title needs a new artist.  However, he’s still doing Stark Disassembled, so we have to put up with this for a tad longer.  This is one of the few times where I have no idea how a comic book story is going to end.  And I like it that way.  Fraction’s setting us up for a killer ending to his entire run on Invincible Iron Man (assuming it even ends with the end of the next story), and I can’t wait to see where it goes.

Plot: 9.0      Art: 8.9      Dialogue: 9.0      Overall: 9.0

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