Finally, after much delay, the “eScape” crisis comes to a conclusion. Since Slott has been having problems with deadlines, Jim Zub is helping. I mention this because unfortunately, this is a ramshackle affair.
On the positive side, Slott continues pulling threads together that he’s been seeding since the beginning. Tony has to grapple with the fact that he’s come back “different” after Civil War II, as does his mother (who doesn’t take it very well). Jocosta grapples with similar issues to a fascinating degree. This is an example of a writer picking up the pieces of the previous (Bendis) and actually running with them in a satisfying way.
While we’re on positives, Valerio Schiti’s art is better than ever. The dynamism and flow of the action is akin to Staurt Immonen’s work, yet the layouts and compositions are even better and mirrors the tone of each scene brilliantly. Crafting large-scale battles is one of Schiti’s specialties, but if you study the panels, they’re not choked with extraneous details. His line-work is sleek and uncluttered.
The problems come with the battle, which takes up at least the first half. While previous issues had tension and stakes that actually put our heroes in peril, this finale is too breezy for its own good. The villain, some bloated, muscle-bound gamer, spends all his time posing and screaming. With his experience in the “eScape,” Tony quickly crafts a suit aptly named the “God Killer” to solve everybody’s problems in a flash.
Slott has been building the idea that Tony and Stark Industries is a magical place where anything can happen. But this is where that goes wrong — where the hero can build the most powerful weapon ever just like that without any moral implications (he promptly destroys it because it’s too much power).
If you’ll recall, Tony’s even more brilliant bro, Arno, who was introduced in #5, is still scheming. While I enjoy the character, his simultaneous role of undermining yet aiding Stark is such a clichéd villain trope at this point.
Slott and Zub excel at the character beats. Yet, wrapping up the action-packed main narrative is where the problems arise. If a Big Two book can’t justify the explosions that take away from the heart of the story, that’s a foreboding sign.