The walls are closing in on Tony Stark just as the new Iron Man comes to save his hide from assassins!
Invincible Iron Man #520
As Tony Stark is rescued by a “mysterious”, new Iron Man, the Hammers’ plan to destroy Detroit Steel, now commandeered by original operator Doug Johnson, backfires and he goes on a rampage. The rampage is stopped by Sasha Hammer by ripping off the mech’s head and seemingly killing Johnson. Tony, while visiting with his staff as they try to console the injured and heartbroken Tim, tells everyone that he has legally signed away Stark Resilient and is walking away. Later, Tony contacts the Hammers and tells them he wants to put a stop to the attacks on his friends. Unknown to him, the Mandarin is listening in and shows off a power over Stark that eventually forces the hero to his knees calling the Mandarin his “Master”.
I have to wonder a bit… Would this story had been better served as reading in trade form instead of the individual issues? I do like Matt Fraction’s stories and have, in particular, very much enjoyed this series. This series has benefited from having a consistent creative team with Fraction and Salvador Larroca. It’s given both creators a chance to build upon stories and create a real series as opposed to a run of one story to the next. It’s one thing that long term teams can do better from series that often switch out teams.
But this can also lead to troubles in how stories can be paced.
“Long Way Down” is the culmination of years (literally) going all the way back to World’s Most Wanted. The years haven’t been kind to Tony. He’s gone from being in a Civil War with his best friend to being the top cop to erasing his memory to nearly dying to now being hunted by his worst enemy. All of this has led to natural plot progression of how these things could all fall apart.
However, the pacing of each of these parts of the story has hurt each individual piece that makes up the sum. There’s a lot going on here. Some things have moved on and found some sort of conclusion, if not closure. However things are shifting from one setting or character to another. It’s a little too much for individual issues to handle in the allotted page count of modern comics.
Really, though, the biggest problem I have with this issue comes at the very end. When Mandarin finally confronts Tony directly, he claims that he has a modicum of control over Stark ever since he tried to erase his memory. That could be, but how did this happen and when? Who opened the door for Mandarin to waltz into Tony’s brain bits?
I’m not against the twist, but after all Mandarin has done to put Iron Man’s rogues on a much higher level of power, the revelation that Mandarin has been inside Tony’s mind for so long seems a little anti-climatic. In some ways, it puts the reader in a place where they wouldn’t know what’s going to happen, but with all that has been swirling around in this story, you would have thought it would have been something a little more than “I’ve been in your mind all along! MWAHAHAHAHAHA!”
There still could be a good conclusion, but I can’t help but think this story needs to be read in the collected trade, or in one sitting, to avoid the issues with the amount of stories compared to the pacing in each individual issue.
A COMIC BOOK BLOG RATING
|Larroca’s art is always fantastic. I actually did really like the Detroit Steel/Hammer girls’ story.||Pacing is too much for everything going on. Confusing and anti-climatic conclusion.|
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