This, for me, was one of those volumes which proves you don’t always have to keep up with every bit of every storyline to still enjoy parts of the larger arc. It was also the first time I really got enthused about Matt Fraction’s storytelling: I need to reread the Hawkeye books now that I’m more invested in the character, since it was sort of inevitable that I didn’t get on too well with his work on Thor — I’m not that big a fan of Thor (sorry honey). But when he’s working on Iron Man, well, Tony Stark’s got himself attached to my heartstrings somehow, and goodness does Fraction know how to work that.
Most of the book revolves around fallout from the Fear Itself event, which I only know a little about. I don’t know exactly what happened when Tony fell off the wagon, or why Pepper’s in disgrace over Rescue and something to do with her crying. I only know a little bit about Cabe and the various villains up against Tony. What I know about the main players is mostly based on the cinematic universe.
And yet. I still care passionately about Tony and his struggle with alcoholism, about his battle of wits with the Mandarin, about what’s happening with him and Rhodey and the struggle with the government to control Iron Man. (I was surprised there weren’t more laughs milked out of it when Tony ended up naked in battle.)
One or two things drove me a little nuts, like why would Tony voluntarily install the limiter? Without dismantling it first and checking if it is everything they say? If he did, how did they take him by surprise and make it hard for him to remove? Why didn’t he see that coming? Or was everything that happened in that battle planned?
I think it’ll take the next TPB or so to find out the answers to all my questions, but in a way, this was satisfying on its own in the sense that I jumped in, got captured by the story, had my heartstrings yanked, and enjoyed the experience without needing to know all the context.