Okay, here’s Fraction’s problem–he’s doing too much at once. He’s got Maria doing something, Pepper doing something and Tony doing something. Tony gets the most attention, leaving Pepper and Maria stuck without a lot of space.
Fraction follows this formula every issue–it’s like having two backup stories injected into the main narrative. The scenes resonate because they’re compelling (more compelling than what Tony’s doing actually) but there’s never any payoff. They don’t get the big dramatic cliffhanger.
Take this issue for example, Fraction spends maybe a third of the issue on a staged fight between Tony and Rhodey (what’s up with his cyborg eye, by the way?). Pepper’s just gotten her own Iron Girl armor, much more interesting. Maria’s discovered a town where everyone’s being drained of their precious bodily fluids on a bad guy’s whim, also more interesting.
Fraction writes a great comic, it’s just paced for a trade.