Another very strong issue of Iron Man, and one that, even though it seems to wrap everything up, still leaves a lot of room for Gillen to once again flip Tony Stark’s world around.
After a very interesting opening sequence which gives us a little more (and necessary) context for why 451 turned evil, the first half of this issue is Iron Man in a race against time. He only has minutes to hack his way into 451 and make his escape from the Godkiller before it pops it’s way into another dimension. This was a very exciting series of scenes, and very well-drawn by Carlo Pagulayan, especially towards the end when it goes dialogue-free. I also liked how Gillen once again showed his meticulous plotting skills, as a line from Death’s Head quite a few issues ago is the reasoning for just how Iron Man is able to escape. As part of his payment for helping 451, Death’s Head was given some 451 tech, and that’s what allows Tony to hack into the malfunctioning robot and get out of the dimensional black-hole. It was also interesting that this scene echoes Iron Man’s escape from the Chitauri dimension at the end of the Avengers movie, a scene that will be familiar to many casual fans. I wonder if Gillen is going to bring in the PTSD effects that this had on the character in Iron Man 3 into the comics? He certainly seemed a little squirrelly when he gets back to Earth.
Because yep, Tony is now back on Earth. After a 3-month time-skip, which gives Bendis plenty of time to tell his Guardians Of The Galaxy storylines (3 months Marvel time can last for years our time!), Tony leaves the Guardians and heads back to Earth. After eating a slice of New York Pizza (a great, human moment for Tony, and once again, reminiscent of the movies, Robert Downey Jnr’s take on the guy is always hankering after some junkfood, whether it be a cheeseburger in the first movie, or a shawarma in Avengers) Tony calls Pepper, and rushes towards what he thinks is an emergency. Only it’s not an emergency, it’s a surprise birthday party!
It seems like Gillen is heavily implying that this is Tony’s 40th, but he doesn’t actually say, I guess it makes sense for Marvel to not put a definitive age on any of their characters, but in my mind now, Tony Stark is 40. After being introduced to Pepper’s new fiancé, Tony leaves the party, and starts looking at old files of his parent’s, presumably trying to find out if 451’s story is true. The last page sees Tony flying off the deal with some ‘family business’, about which I have no idea what it could be. Tony’s parents are dead! Is he going to travel back in time?
This Secret Origin story has really kept me on my toes throughout, and even though 451 is gone, there’s still room to surprise. I’ve enjoyed Iron Man’s sojourn into space, but now that he’s back on Earth, I’m even more excited. So much of what Tony thought he knew about himself has changed, what will that mean for him? I can’t wait to find out.