Dr. Octopus has given Tony Stark the opportunity of a lifetime: fix the damage to his brain, or Manhattan erupts in nuclear devastation from the bomb Octopus has built as leverage against Stark’s expected non-compliance. It’s a pretty lackluster plot at its base: standard-issue mustache-twirling villain forcing the hero to go against his better judgment due to the fate of loved ones or innocents hanging in the balance.
Fraction makes the story much more engaging than that simple plot breakdown, though. Stark’s dialog flows effortlessly and doesn’t come off as any more self-righteous or staged than it would be if someone like a Tony Stark were talking to Otto Octavius.
Last issue built the tension between Octavius and Stark, based upon incidents from their past. This issue moves it forward with alacrity, as evidenced by the many densely paneled pages. Larroca’s art is solid, detailed, and occasionally stiff as many of the figures come across as heavily photo-referenced. All the same, Larroca’s art is keenly detailed and fills this book with consistency issue after issue. A single page may house thirteen panels, yet not one of them appears misaligned, rushed, or ill-conceived. Larroca is in a zone on this book, and I’m enjoying it.
Having half of the Sinister Six pop up here is a fun little acknowledgement of the greater Marvel Universe Tony Stark lives in and impacts on a daily basis. Last issue felt a little like “Acts of Vengeance,” only isolated. That means there is no Wrecker and, thankfully, no Chemistro. It’s some Spider-foes against Iron Man. Of course, those threats to Spidey get played a bit by Pepper Potts, Tim Cababa, and Pimacher. Pepper certainly helps even the odds a bit in that tussle. It is fun to see characters pulled out of the context of the book they normally appear in and turn up elsewhere, and it seems as though Fraction is having fun doing this.
I’ve dinked and dunked my way through this title, never adding it to my regular stack, but very frequently checking in. This issue – this storyline – has me rethinking that as I’m already invested in it significantly. I’m just hoping we get to see more of the Sinister Six here. After all, this is almost looking like a fair fight right now.