‘Iron Metropolitan’ comes to an end, but it’s not really an ending as Kieron Gillen uses this issue to mostly set up the next big story arc, ‘The Rings Of The Mandarin’ and introduce the next big villain for Iron Man to face. I like this because it once again demonstrates that Gillen is doing some long-term planning, but it does also feel like a lot of the very interesting characters and ideas introduced in this arc are being left behind. I’m sure ‘Troy’ and Abigail Burns will be sticking around in some form, but the concept of Iron Man trying to build the city of the future is something that could have lasted for a lot longer than 5 issues.
We begin right in the thick of the action, with Iron Man, his drones and Abigail Burns (she refers to herself as ‘Red Threat’ in this issue, when previously she was Red Peril) fighting Lord Remaker and The Exile. The good guys look outnumbered, until they are saved by Arno, who is not dead, and has his own suit of armour, which is all kinds of bad-ass. Tony had thought Arno didn’t want a suit, but the truth is that Arno didn’t want Tony to build one for him, he wanted to make one himself, and now he has. I’m glad Arno isn’t dead, and I really like the very slow, subtle way Gillen is planting seeds of conflict between the Stark brothers, it’s a story that could bubble under until #50 or something, it could last the whole of Gillen’s run. With the tide turned, Exile teleports away, and Lord Remaker retreats to detonate another bomb, but before he can get there, he is attacked and beheaded by a mysterious someone who also happens to have a Mandarin Ring. Abigail heads off to find Remaker, and when she does, the same mystery man chops off her hands and steals her rings.
So, the immediate threat to Troy is over, but that doesn’t mean the city is safe, as a handless Abigail lectures Tony and Marc about how, with Tony as it’s figurehead, Troy will always be at risk of attack from Iron Man’s enemies. This is especially true now because of the Mandarin Rings, and how they are drawn towards people with an axe to grind against Tony Stark. So, reluctantly, Tony is forced to resign from his post as ‘custodian’ of Troy, and pass it off to Arno, who the public don’t know is his brother. For most heroes, this could be seen as a win, but given Tony’s ego, this is a serious bruising, and on top of that, Troy was what he was using to distract himself from the revelations of the ‘Secret Origin’ arc. Without that distraction, Tony may spiral out of control, and in fact, we even see him consider drinking at the end of this issue, and it’s a special drink, the last bottle of the Stark Family wine, and from the summer he was born. He doesn’t drink the wine, but instead smashes the bottle against the wall, which is of course, very symbolic. We aren’t getting Tony confronting his past just yet though, as now he wants to hit things, and those things are the Mandarin Ring-Holders, but of course, he needs to find them first.
The issue ends with the big reveal about who the mystery man who stole the rings was, and it’s not a man at all, it’s an elf, and not just any elf, it’s Malekith The Accursed! It’s a shame this surprise was ruined by the solicitations, but I’m still very excited for this upcoming story, Malekith’s recent storyline in Thor was very entertaining, and I always enjoy seeing superheroes go up against villains that aren’t normally their problem (Acts Of Vengeance, bitches!) and seeing Tony Stark against a magical, fantasy villain is a great example of that.
Joe Bennett’s art was once again very strong, and overall, this was a solid conclusion to an interesting arc, that I’m glad is just the start of something bigger.