Man oh man, Kieron Gillen is not fucking around with this story. He’s gone back to the past and has shaken up everything we know about who Tony Stark is. I’m not sure if I like it or not, but you have to appreciate the brass balls of Gillen. That’s if 451 is telling the truth and this isn’t just one big mind-fuck.
In this issue, it’s revealed that the reason 451 agrees to help Howard and Maria Stark is because he believes the Earth’s future is in jeopardy when it is discovered by alien races, that the likes of the Kree and the Skrulls would just crush us. To stop this, he needs to create a human race that is equipped to fight back, and to do so without being seen to interfere. How does he do this? Tony Stark. In one crazy double-page spread we find out that Tony’s personality was essentially designed by 451 in order to improve Earth technology and protect us. 451 boosts his intelligence, he implants his practical nature, he makes Tony more prone to inspiration, he even causes Tony’s addictive personality as an ‘acceptable cost’ of his drive.
Everything that Iron Man is was pre-ordained. This is some heady shit indeed and tackling the battle between nature and nurture head on. In fact, this is Gillen tackling the character of Tony Stark head on, finding out why he’s special, why he, amongst all of the other geniuses in the Marvel Universe is different. Reed Richards and Hank Pym and the others are men of peace, but Tony is a man of war. Why is this? Because 451 needed him to be so he could save the world, not necessarily as Iron Man, but to create weapons that could arm the likes of SHIELD to fight aliens. We’re through the looking-glass here people! This arc is freaking me out.
Luckily Gillen provides his usual dry dialogue and some great action for Dale Eaglesham to draw. This arc could just be talking, but wisely we do get to see Iron Man fight some drones and Howard shoot some aliens. I wonder what you guys think, does this issue ruin the character of Iron Man by taking away his free will? Or does it make him even more interesting and unique? I can’t decide, but I love that this book has me confused and guessing.