A Great Example of What Crossover Tie-Ins Should Be
The Fear Itself tie-in issues of Matt Fraction's Invincible Iron Man have been, by FAR, the best Fear Itself tie-in issues I"ve read. More than that, they are easily among the best EVENT tie-in stories I've ever read, PERIOD. So often these corporate-mandated crossover tie-in issues are an annoying detour from ongoing plot threads, and are mediocre at best so that they don't even reward you for the delay, but these past few issues of Iron Man have been exceptionally strong. The hammer-possessed Grey Gargoyle's rampage through Paris, killing seemingly the entire population of the city, was some extremely powerful imagery, and the usually unshakeable Tony Stark turning tail and fleeing was likewise a powerful moment. But that's all in the past. What does THIS issue have to offer?
The answer is a lot. For those who have read Fear Itself but not Invincible Iron Man, Tony Stark's plea to Odin at the end of Fear Itself book 4 might have seemed a bit sudden. For those of us who have read both, we realize that there is very good reason for Tony to be so desperate, so shattered. This issue builds on very specific events from the core part of this crossover and gives them further meaning. This is a crossover tie-in issue with serious substance, and that actually improves the core story rather than just elaborating upon it. Granted, it helps that this title is written by the same person doing the core story, so it's no wonder that this title is better than most of the other tie ins. But I dare say that these tie-in issues of Iron Man have been leaps and bounds more powerful, and far better on the whole, than the core Fear Itself book.
In this issue, Tony has offered up his longstanding sobriety as a sacrifice to Odin, and he is rewarded for it. His reward is access to the workshops of Svartalfheim, wherein the equipment and the workforce of dwarves can help Tony to make some weapons that might give Earth's heroes a fighting chance against "The Chosen". Throughout the issue, Tony gets increasingly plastered as he works and carouses with the dwarves, and it's a read that is both thoroughly entertaining and tragic. It feels like light reading, but by the final page you realize just how dark a place Tony is going into, and the drunken revelry suddenly becomes quite troubling. I'm sure Tony's work with the dwarves (who Fraction writes very well) is a one-off, but I"m also sure it's one that will tie in to the Fear Itself story as a whole quite nicely and will pay off in the end.