In an interesting time for comics, where the horizon is digital and waning monthly sales have pushed publishers to try drastic measures like constant crossovers and company wide reboots, it’s rare to read a stand alone superhero book that tells a smaller and more personal story. Matt Fraction has done the epic and the ingenious on Iron Man for seven ever-entertaining volumes but despite all the hoopla surrounding the upcoming Avengers film, Fraction tells an understated and unexpected story by crossing the paths of two unlikely foes – Tony Stark and Otto Octavius, otherwise known as Doctor Octopus!
Facing immenent death, Doc Ock holds his finger on the trigger of a bomb that would kill millions unless Tony Stark can find a cure to Ock’s terminal illness. Of course, he’s unfixable. So what does he really want? How about having the overconfident and egotistical Stark humble himself before Doc and admit he can’t do it? The story doesn’t shatter the globe or change the world or reinvent the characters or genre. It doesn’t involve super smash-ups between capes, but it does give you great characters that you never see together in the same book, hashing out issues you never knew they had and Matt Fraction makes it a pleasure to read cover to cover. Take a breather from the parallel worlds and the alien invasions and try reading a more grounded story and a good jumping on point for Iron Man. When most comics grasp at broad epics in today’s market, Fraction’s focus on character and nuance is the perfect alternative.