This month continues with some strong writing from Matt Fraction. It really captures the hopelessness and the 'fear" aspect of Fear Itself, putting Tony in a hopeless situation and expecting him to find a way out of it.
I'm happy that we're given a look back at Stark Resilient and how the new staff are being "trained." After Fear Itself we're going to have to go back to something, right? Setting up the story to move on after a company-wide crossover is something I've always been a fan of.
The book also has some foreshadowing for later, which could tie in to the main story: on the way out of Stark headquarters after retreating from the Grey Gargoyle, Tony grabs a bottle of booze while going to repair his cracked repulsor ring. This is obviously a metaphor for his "cracked" confidence and the issues he's going to have to face in the future. I don't like Tony being drunk (see Avengers Disassembled) but hopefully it won't be a permanent thing.
Since when does Tony Stark just leave a fight he can't win it? Sure, he's a bit damaged, but to run away from a petrified Paris (especially when people might be still alive) just seems a bit irresponsible. To crack jokes about his company "sprouting redheads" and casually saying that "Paris is a total loss" just seems a bit crass.
The loss of Detroit Steel seems a bit stupid; I mean, I thought that was to be a big part of the Stark Resilient/HAMMER Industries rivalry? Having it ripped apart to show the power of the Grey Gargoyle just seems a bit of a waste.
This is still a solid book by any means, but it seems to have toned down the shock and awe from last issue. While I'm not usually a fan of using death as shock, it was done tastefully to show that Iron Man might not be as powerful in the situation as he'd like. Resting on a pile of stone body parts was just very morose, and I think that's what Fear Itself needs: not necessarily "shock fear," but "emotional fear."