Character death in comics is always a downer.
From the cover to this week's issue of Iron Man, we all know that there's something implied to happen to War Machine. For months now, we've seen Tony Stark's enemies chip away at his resolve and credibility, letting the government influence his actions as Iron Man.
This month, that all comes to a head as someone else pays the price for it, and that happens to be War Machine. I won't go into specifics, but Matt Fraction does some awesome work when it comes to subverting some common comics tropes and keeping Team Tony from seeming too disparaged.
While many stories love to have a point where the hero is at his absolute lowest, this book likes to keep him just above that point, giving us the confidence that a counterattack is brewing in the wings. By giving us hope (abeit little) in Tony, the reader gets interested in how the story is going to resolve itself, and stays in for the long haul.
That's what's at play here: a careful construction to show us that even when we think Iron Man's villains have him on the ropes, he still has some aces up his sleeve. For that, I have to give Mr. Fraction some props.
Invincible Iron Man #515
The Verdict: Four arc reactors out of five for solid writing and subversion of tropes we all thought were coming. Interesting characterization of minor characters and possible foreshadowing keep the reader from straying too far, even if the fight scenes may have dragged on a bit.