The conclusion to Stark Resilient saw some more recent enemies unite with one of Iron Man’s oldest foes, the Mandarin. It’s been a long wait, but their machinations come to fruition here as Matt Fraction provides another serving of longstanding Iron Man villains upgraded for modern useage. If that weren’t problem enough there’s also the perturbing matter of a spy within Tony Stark’s new company, responsible for outright sabotage, and the leaking of embarrassing news items.

Fraction has devoted attention to re-establishing Stark’s previous problems with alcohol, setting up a sequence in Fear Itself when he did drink again. This escalates into a significant problem when a court order requires data supporting this, and several people who’ve had gripes with Stark in the past see an opportunity. That this was leaked is further evidence of that not everyone in Stark Resilient is above board.

This a story packed with some great individual moments, such as Tony Stark deducing who’s behind an attack merely by diagnosing some technical circuitry, and his response to the court order. Despite the constant hovering tension of political manipulation, though, this doesn’t quite hit the highspots of the earlier material. It drops short because it’s re-running several elements from the plot of World’s Most Wanted. It’s different people in charge, but there are US government troops looking for Tony Stark. His company is simultaneously experiencing corporate attack, and the person ultimately responsible is seemingly all-powerful within their sphere of influence.

Artist Salvador Larroca has modified his style over the past few books, no longer entirely aiming for a gloss photo-realist finish, and while that closes down some options it enables others. There remains a digitally enhanced Iron Man, but the cast are somehow humanised for a little more pencil and ink (or digital equivalent).

As we reach the final chapter there’s a sense of wonder that Fraction is going to be able to wrap everything up in satisfactory fashion. Sadly not even he’s that good, and this leads directly into Long Way Down.