Ah, here's another series that's been quietly really good lately, Iron Man. Matt Fraction has been doing a great job of taking Tony's life apart in this storyline, let's see what happens to old Shellhead this issue.
Invincible Iron Man #514:
Summary: Just to mess with the government, Iron Man sends 19 massive trucks full of records of his actions in the Iron Man suit since General Babbage wanted to see Iron Man's records to prove that Tony had piloted the IM armor while intoxicated. From there, the Mandarin prepares his next attack on Iron Man, this time using Whirlwind and the new Melter... This is where ominous music would play... Back with Tony, Babbage and Justine Hammer visit and tell Tony to wear a special piece of tech that would basically serve as a Breathalyzer. If Tony is “unwell”(and that's an important choice of word for later in this comic), the piece of tech would shut down Tony's access to the armor and weaponry of the Iron Man suit, but wouldn't interfere with it's life support systems. The two hand Tony the tech, tell him to look into it on his own, and that if he chooses to wear it Babbage would drop the government's inquiry into Tony's drunken actions. Eventually Tony does decide to put the tech on, and ends up battling Whirlwind, while Melter attacks a street in Los Angeles a short distance away. Tony manages to put Whirlwind down and upon hearing about Melter, prepares to head after him, but is shocked when his armor shuts down. Hammer tells him that after his battle with Whirlwind, they(Hammer and Babbage) had decided to enforce a mandatory cool-down period for Tony. This issue ends with Melter being confronted by War Machine, apparently sent to take Melter down at the behest of Babbage.
Thoughts: Nice... Things are really starting to kick into high gear as the noose around Tony's neck gets ever tighter. Before I get too into this issue though, I do want to say that I hate the fact that Melter is the bad guy here, and will almost definitely be doing severe damage(or worse...) to Rhodey next issue... I thought he had some potential during that Dark Reign: Young Avengers mini-series, and hate to see him turned into your basic, run of the mill, super-villain. Back to this issue though... Fraction has done a fantastic job of basically having ALL of Tony's foes come at him from ALL sides(the Mandarin and Stane, along with ALL of their lackeys, as well as the Hammer girls and Babbage) at the same time. Now, it seems definite that War Machine is going to catch a major league ass-whipping(or worse...) next issue, with Tony just scant miles away, unable to do anything to help. That should light the fire even more under Tony, leading to an eventual confrontation with the Mandarin, as well as a reckoning with Babbage and the Hammer girls as well. Man, Fraction has set this series up for like a full YEAR of awesome storytelling!
Score: 8 out of 10.
Oh Melter... I expected more from you...