Its a big week for fans of Iron Man. Not only do we get the latest part of the Stark Disassembled storyline, but we also get the final issue of the current series of War Machine. Its worth noting that War Machine should be read before Iron Man, as Iron Man will spoil the finale of War Machine otherwise.
However just to be contrary, I’m going to review Iron Man first 🙂
Continuing on from last issue, Stark’s closest friends are gathered around his body as Rescue continues to recite Stark’s plan to bring himself back from the self-lobotomy he performed during World’s Most Wanted. Interestingly Pepper’s reluctance to help last issue is revisited here in a way that makes complete sense as we see what exactly Stark’s rebirth will cost her. Its a testament to Fraction’s writing and the development he’s done with the character that I really found myself feeling for her, and in some ways Stark’s plan seems cruel to her (although, of course, when it comes down to the crunch she signs up with little hesitation).
The contents of the mysterious hard disc Maria Hill retrieved during World’s Most Wanted are revealed, and while not being a great surprise, its perfectly in character for Tony. In fact, despite being brain dead for the issue, Tony continues to get the best lines, via the holographic recording he left with Rescue.
Its also nice to see Ghost turning up here. He’s a character I hadn’t really seen much of, prior to picking up Andy Diggle’s Thunderbolts run the other month, and he’s become a real favourite as mine. There’s something wonderfully freaky about his design, and the way he operates completely under his own agenda under Osborn’s nose remains interesting (especially as that agenda isn’t the usual supervillain posturing).
There is also the symbolism at play here, as Fraction brings together the newly-Reborn Steve Rogers and Thor to help in Tony’s resurrection. We’re seeing the big 3 Avengers come back together here, in preparation for the upcoming Seige event, and it does feel like something big is coming in Marvel just through these characters being together again.
While I wasn’t entirely sure about the ending of World’s Most Wanted, and this Disassembled arc from the solicits, I think its paying off nicely, helped in part by moving along quite quickly, obviously so we can have Tony back on his feet and in armour in time for Siege.
Over in War Machine #12, things aren’t looking particularly rosy for Jim Rhodes either. While he’s not lobotomised himself, Osborn has captured him and has him on trial for war crimes and facing execution.
As a wrap up to the year of War Machine we’ve had this issue works brilliantly. Osborn remains centre-stage as the villain of the piece and the main characters from throughout the run are all spotlighted with James’ mother visiting him in prison, Ares turning up to free his champion and team War Machine in their usual support roles.
Its actually a real shame to see this series come to an end, if only because this issue would’ve marked a major turning point that would’ve set things up to go off in a different direction to the first year of the run. And with War Machine turning up in Iron Man 2 next year, you have to wonder how long it’ll be before we at least get a new mini-series.
I do like how Greg Pak turns Osborn against himself here. There’s an interesting parallel between this and the ending of World’s Most Wanted, which in both cases sees Tony and Rhodey turn Osborn’s own arrogance against him (as we see with Osborn himself exonerating Rhodey from War Machine’s crimes). In both cases, the resolution came down to the planning by the main characters, rather than a knock-down fight. Which especially in the case of War Machine is an interesting way to go.
There’s also an interesting clearing of the decks going on across these titles in time for the new year and the new film. It’ll be interesting to see how Matt Fraction continues to rebuild Tony for example, since he’ll now be free from Extremis, have a movie-styled repulsor unit in his chest, and have to rebuild Stark Industries from the ground up. And how Rhodey will feature into the Marvel universe will be interesting to see. If nothing else, it might be nice to have him feature in Iron Man for a while again (while Tony’s getting back on his feet). Certainly I hope the character doesn’t languish like he did after his first ongoing was cancelled.