What Is This Arc Even About?
Boring and underwhelming are probably the best words to describe not only this issue but this Stark Resilient story arc entirely. In the aftermath of Siege and Tony Stark wiping over a year's worth of memory from his own mind, we do not get a story arc with Stark dealing with the fallout of his forgotten past, rebuilding his relationships with the superhero community or even showing off his new armor. No, we have a story arc that seems to now be about building a car.
I think this issue actually gave me low blood pressure.
The problem with Stark Resilient is that it is all B-plots with no main A-plot. We have the Hammer women conspiring against Stark in the background, building up presumably to a conflict later but providing none right now. We have Stark building a new company for himself and surrounding himself with new employees. And finally, we have Pepper Potts wanting desperately to be Rescue again. This is the current story arc. It is three subplots strung together and trying to pass themselves off as a main story.
Fraction is spending a lot of time populating Stark Resilient, the fledgling company, with a cast of employees. Unfortunately, there is nothing interesting about most of them. They may as well all be nameless employees for all the personality Fraction has them exhibit. Fraction could have instead gotten away with introducing one or possibly two new employees and given them enough page time to develop as strong characters. But instead, Fraction has stretched this concept too thin and none of them stand out in any way.
Earlier, it seemed like Fraction had an interesting conflict between Pepper and Stark over her strong and addictive need to become Rescue again. This issue may have completely killed that with Stark basically relenting. Personally, I want to see Pepper Potts as Rescue as much as I want to see Foggy Nelson trained by the Hand or Mary Jane Watson bitten by a radioactive spider. Pepper is a fantastic supporting character but a boring superhero. I can only hope that Fraction intends for her scarily strong need to be Rescue again to lead to interesting things, but he's currently leaving me with a lot of doubts about it.
On another note, Fraction and Larroca together do one terrible portrayal of James Rhodes this issue. Rhodey always seems small when Larroca depicts him in an issue, but this is even worse as Rhodey sits casually in the office of a general, fidgets uncertainly and leaves the office slumped like a whipped puppy. The man is a soldier. He just took on the U.S. government in his own series, and Fraction has him almost cowering to some angry general. This is War Machine. He should be a much stronger character than that.
While many other books have kicked off the Heroic Age with a running start, Invincible Iron Man is leisurely strolling along lost in its own daydreams about solving America's job problem and the world's energy crisis. I can only hope that in the next issue something interesting actually happens.