There’s something inoffensive about “Invincible Iron Man” #12. Here it is, maybe half an hour since I finished reading the issue and I vaguely remember what happened in it. Sure, that could be the result of sleep deprivation, stress, hunger, and too much television, but I don’t think so. I can remember the comic I read earlier today pretty well and I read that hours ago. This begs the question "Why can’t I remember much of what happened in 'Invincible Iron Man' #12?" Probably because it’s a bit boring and middle-of-the-road with little to excite and enthrall.
Now, this isn’t that bad of a comic with its competent writing and not-quite-completely-ugly art, but not much actually happens. Pepper Potts has some fun saving people, Tony Stark (if that’s who that crew-cut-styled man fiddling with an old Iron Man armor is supposed to be) fights Namor, and Maria Hill skulks about while the Controller gets high off people’s souls. Okay, that last bit is pretty interesting. I will give Fraction kudos for his compelling depiction of the Controller, a character who’s been strictly z-grade for years and is very interesting here.
But, the rest of the issue just kind of happens, leaving little to no impression. For some reason, Fraction pours on caption after caption, sometimes delivering genuine (and witty) insights, sometimes making up for the shortcomings of Larroca’s art by clarifying things, but usually just talks for the sake of talking, or so it seems. There’s too much tell, not enough show, especially since there isn’t that much going on already.
After reading Tim Callahan’s review of last issue, I was hopeful that Salvador Larroca’s art had drastically changed for the better, but it really hasn’t. I haven’t been a fan of his work or Frank D’Armata’s coloring since the beginning, finding it “inconsistent at times” and “[full of] awkward positioning, a lack of backgrounds, inconsistent characters, and unattractive coloring.” Little has changed since then. Larroca’s Norman Osborn bears some resemblance to the character you’ve seen in other comics, but his newly clean-shaven Tony Stark really is doing some impressive incognito work since he doesn’t look at all like Tony, even a Tony with a crew-cut and no mustache.
The centerpiece of this issue, Iron Man versus Namor, plays out pretty much how you would expect it to in this "parade of enemies" story, but Fraction throws in a few curve balls in the other plots. Fans of the comic will no doubt dig this issue since it isn’t all that different from what came before, which is a shame, because the series has shown small bursts of brilliance, even one or two in this very issue. Just not many.