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Invincible Iron Man #11

Review by Paul Bowler

Civil War II steadily advances in Invincible Iron Man #11, as Tony’s undercover mission in Osaka brings him ever closer to infiltrating the Techno Golem Tomoe’s terrorist cell of biohack ninjas. Meanwhile, as Mary Jane Watson attempts to prevent Tony’s company being taken over by the board of investors, Rhodey has been busy developing an Avenging contingency measure of his own, because Iron Man is going to need his allies more than ever as the storm clouds of Civil War II gather on the horizon of the Marvel Universe.

It all kicks off in Invincible Iron Man #11 as the Road to Civil War II marches inexorably on. Writer Brian Michael Bendis skilfully maintains the fine balance between several key plot threads that have been running parallel to each other over the course of The War Machines story-arc, now everything begins to come together, and the net result is a densely plotted issue where the drama, characterization, and action fuse seamlessly as one.

Beginning with a power walk of investors storming into Stark Headquarters to wrest control from Tony’s AI, Friday, they plan to use the criminal, Ghost, to beak into Stark’s lab and gain access to the servers. Fortunately, Friday also has an ace up her digital sleeve, namely, Mary Jane Watson, and the way MJ and Friday collectively defuse the situation with the board of directors is absolutely priceless. Events also took a startling turn last issue when Richard Franco (Tony) finally met Tomoe, and discovered she was an Inhuman with the ability to control live technology. Tony may have elaborately faked his own death to gain access to Tomoe’s organization (by utilizing some nifty facial disguise software to become Ex-S.H.I.E.L.D agent Richard Franco ), but Rhodey, S.H.I.E.LD, and the all-new all-different Avengers have formed a plan of their own – the only question is will they be going to Japan to rescue Tony Stark or to avenge him?

Invincible Iron Man #11 (CVR)

Engaging characterization, though-provoking dialogue, and big action set-pieces are the order of the day in Invincible Iron Man #11, as Brian Michael Bendis interspaces the narrative with some wonderfully crafted moments: primarily a clandestine meeting between Tony and Rhodey where not everything is quite as it seems, and there’s even an interlude with new armored superhero, Riri Williams, as she makes her first foray into being a superhero.

The artwork by Mike Deodato during this story-arc has been astonishingly good; indeed, Invincible Iron Man #11 is arguably one of Deodato’s finest issues on the series so far. Mike Deodato and Brian Michael Bendis make a fantastic team, Deodato intuitively bring every nuance of Bendis’ exemplary storytelling and characterization to life on the page. From the moment that Mary Jane makes that head-turning entrance in the lab, she proves what a worthy addition her character is to this series’ terrific ensemble cast. Likewise, Deodato ramps us the tension with glorious views from Tomoe’s penthouse in Osaka, as the Techno Golem and her trusted right-hand-lady, Zhane, realize that their organizations closely guarded anonymity has been compromised. Frank Martins colors are another big highlight of the issue, with sumptuous tones and shades heightening the atmosphere of key scenes, before exploding into vivid hues when the bombastic action kicks into overdrive as War Machine, S.H.I.E.L.D and the Avengers enter the fray.

Invincible Iron Man #11 rapidly builds towards a rousing final act, however, Tony’s undercover identity still has an important role to play, and the powerful coda certainly gives us plenty to ponder over in the final moments. Now that Civil War II is well under way, there are some events during this issue – and indeed throughout the entire arc – which now seem far more poignant and insightful in hindsight given the events of Civil War II #1.

After all the build up and mystery surrounding Tomoe and the biohack ninjas, Invincible Iron Man #11 does feel a little like its racing towards the finish line to catch up with Civil War II, but that’s only a minor quibble, and the conclusion actually proves as equally satisfying is it is ambiguous. Brian Michael Bendis and Mike Deodato have done an amazing job with this issue, The War Machines and Road to Civil War has been a terrific Invincible Iron Man storyline, now everything is set for the next issue, and the first of the Civil War II tie-ins!

Publisher: Marvel / Writer: Brian Michael Bendis / Art: Mike Deodato

Color Artist: Frank Martin / VCs Clayton Cowles: Letterer & Production 

Cover Artists Mike Deodato & Frank Martin