It's an All-New, All-Different Super Reads!
Actually, it's pretty much the same Super Reads.
But we're covering the All-New, All-Different Marvel series, Invincible Iron Man #1!
Which is, again, pretty much like a normal Invincible Iron Man series.
And just in case you forgot how these things work:
There are SPOILERS ahead.
The warnings are out of the way so let's get down to basics.
He lives! He walks! He conquers!
When military industrialist Tony Stark found himself mortally injured in Vietnam an unnamed southeast Asian country Afghanistan, he constructed a suit of armor to fight his way out of terrorist imprisonment. After he had escaped, Stark liked his new armored suit so much, he decided to keep wearing it. As Iron Man, Tony fought numerous threats to national security. He was a founding member of the Avengers and has been their primary source for funding and swanky tech gadgets for most of their history.
He also built a lot of stuff for SHIELD, from the creepy Life Model Decoys to the massive Helicarriers.
While Tony Stark is smart as all get-out and ridiculously rich, in super-hero terms, he's just a guy in a suit. That he made. In war-time conditions. Which is pretty awesome, actually.
But the true draw of the Iron Man armor is just how much it's changed over the years. More than almost any super-hero, Iron Man is prone to upgrading his powers and his looks. It's a constant process of evolution. He's willing to try new things and drop things that don't work.
When last we saw Iron Man, he was suffering from the bad guy Inversion crap that happened back during the Axis event. In Superior Iron Man, Tony Stark was not as nice a guy as usual. And let's face it, Stark isn't typically the nicest guy. However, when the curtain fell and the Secret Wars began, he was duking it out in a final fight with his best frenemy, Steve Rogers.
We don't know how Secret Wars ends, yet, but it's likely that some of these recent events have never happened. If they do, we're eight months further in the timeline and it seems that Tony Stark is back to being his normal self.
And then there's Madame Masque.
We usually know her as Whitney Frost but her birth name is Giuletta Kristina Nefaria. Her birth father is Count Nefaria but she was adopted and raised by Byron and Loretta Frost. When she learned about her true parentage, Whitney went into the family business as a Maggia crime boss, infiltrating Stark Industries under the handle "Big M."
Unfortunately, her time at Stark Industries turned bittersweet when she developed genuine feelings for Ton... wait. Not Tony Stark.
No. She fell in love with SHIELD liason Jasper Sitwell.
Anyway, things went badly for Big M and she was critically injured in the face area. When Whitney Frost resurfaced, she was wearing a golden mask and working for a dude called Mordecai Midas.
Midas was at one point considered something of a genuine threat but had some of the most hair-brained schemes you can imagine. True Silver Age plots at their worst.
Eventually, Madame Masque fell in love with Tony and then fell in love with Sitwell again, went back to Tony, and then left the game of love to become a paranoid psycho. No, really. She made clones of herself and then would grow mistrustful of the clones and send new clones to kill and replace the old ones. Over and over.
Masque's face was repaired after her time spent with the Hood's Syndicate but good ol' Whitney Frost hasn't done so well for herself since then. Lately, she's been the nemesis of Kate Bishop. And she's been LOSING to the younger Hawkeye.
At one point, she lost a fight against Pepper Potts. Hard times, people.
But what about Friday?
If you watched Avengers: Age of Ultron, you might remember that Friday is the name of the AI that Tony chose to use with his armor after Jarvis became the Vision.
However, in the comics, Friday's story is a LITTLE bit different. Appearing in 2002's Iron Man #53, Friday was, literally, Tony's artificial intelligence gal Friday.
She handled the personal assistant work, did the analysis on whatever Stark brought in from the field, and filled the same role that Jarvis fulfilled in the movie universe.
Shortly after Tony Stark became Secretary of Defense, Friday's role was phased out of the comics but her appearances had already declined when her creators, Mike Grell and Michael Ryan, left the book.
And now, suddenly, she's back! Maybe it's the same Friday or maybe this is a case of the comics copying the movies that were copying the comics.
Invincible Iron Man #1
Writer: Brian Michael Bendis
Artist: David Marquez
Color Artist: Justin Ponsor
Letterer & Production: Clayton Cowles (from Virtual Calligraphy)
Assistant Editor: Alanna Smith
Editors: Tom Brevoort with Katie Kubert
In this issue: While Tony Stark builds a better Iron Man and goes on a date, Madame Masque steals unknown items all over the globe and a fresh faced Victor Von Doom reappears in Latveria.
• Madame Masque receives some glowy thing from an ex-AIM agent and shoots the guy in the face.
• We learn that some a-hole has reverse engineered Iron Man tech, forcing Tony to head back to the lab again and build a new, better Iron Man suit for 2015.
• He immediately wants to take his new toy out and play with it but his AI personal assistant reminds him that it needs to charge up and HE needs to go on a date.
• Tony shows up early for his date with Doctor Amara Perera.
• In Osaka, Japan, Madame Masque steals another mysterious something from Stark Tower, fighting robot ninjas (probably) in the process.
• Tony and Amara's date ends up at the top of Stark Tower in NYC, where Stark admits that he has been trying to impress her the whole night and she admits to having figured out a cure to the mutant gene.
• Tony tries to kiss her but is SHUT DOWN!
• In the midst of asking Dr. Perera out on a second date, Tony is contacted by Friday because of Madame Masque's antics.
• Whitney Frost has just stolen another whatsit from the abandoned Castle Doomstadt in Latveria.
• Tony armors up in his new suit and flies off to Latveria.
• Once there, Iron Man is confronted by a group of militants but they are soundly defeated by Doctor Doom.
• Doom has a brand new face, FYI.
Our issue starts in Beijing, China. A larger gentleman gets out of a chauffeured car and after showing his credentials to the attendants, strides on in for a private meeting with a lady covered in heavy shadows.
The man is an ex-AIM agent. AIM used to stand for "Advanced Idea Mechanics" before Sunspot got his hands on it and made it stand for "New Avengers." He's brought a case full of some unknown... something... and he's in the market to sell. This shadowed lady is the buyer and the price is, well, it's substantial.
The lady opens the case to check on her purchase.
OK. No more guesses on what's in the case because it's probably Unobtainium. The buyer, however, is long-time Marvel villain, Madame Masque. Her usual golden mask is adorned with a dragon-like pattern because why not?
Now that the contents of the case has been confirmed (at least for Whitney Frost), the ex-AIM agent is expecting his payment so that he can leave and start living the good life.
Unfortunately, the only payment he's going to receive is a shot to the brain. It looks like Madame Masque just got this magical case for a bargain price of one bullet.
And what is our hero, Tony Stark, doing a while all of this is going on? He's in his garage, building a better Iron Man.
Apparently some hot shot teenager at MIT "reverse engineered" his Iron Man tech and then released it to the public. So Iron Man is no longer on the bleeding edge of technology. Egg on his face for being the futurist who didn't see that coming, Tony shuffled off to his lab to make something more high tech.
And while Stark busies himself with making an all-new, all different Iron Man, WE get to imagine all those punks out in the real world who now have access to Stark's old Iron Man plans. It's a set-up for another Armor Wars if I ever heard one.
And, yes, I can't leave this scene without mentioning all of those old Iron Man suits cluttering up the background. The Iron Man Armory. The Iron Man Armory has been destroyed one thousand billion times only to appear again. And then again. The last time it was destroyed that I can remember is when Matt Fraction and Salvador Larroca worked their magic on World's Most Wanted during Dark Reign. A few remaining suits of armor were returned to Tony at the beginning of the Heroic Age but Stark almost immediately tore them apart for their repulsor batteries.
I suppose these suits could be replicas of his earlier armors. In fact, that's what I'm going with. Tony rebuilt his earlier suits, maybe for nostalgia reasons and maybe just to keep in the practice of building.
Tony basically says that he needs to spend more time doing this sort of thing, anyway. He's "a better person to be around when [he] spends a little time in [his] church." That might also be a reference to his time as Superior Iron Man, saying that the cure to his rotten, Inversion influenced demeanor was just more time building.
The results of all this time in the garage is the sexiest Iron Man suit of all time. It's base mode looks a lot simpler than most of his recent designs but still retains a nice, modern aesthetic. As far as abilities, it can do anything his old suits can do but doesn't rely on something like Extremis. The suit still responds to thought commands. We'll see in the future that it's instantly modifiable in color and physical shape. The cover of the second issue shows it growing a cannon out of one of the arms. But it's not icky or biological. All metal, all armor, baby.
Tony would love to take this thing out for a test but his AI assistant, Friday, tells him that is impossible. For one, this new suit of armor needs to charge up which'll take three hours. Besides that, he's got a date in one hour with Dr. Amara Perera. Friday reminds him how tacky it is to be late for a first date and Stark dutifully leaves his lab to clean up. The suit will be there when he needs it.
Hey, Friday, I was late for my first date with my wife and it turned out fine! So, nyah! But I don't recommend it. Show up on time, people.
Before we leave this scene, let's talk about Friday a little bit more. As I mentioned earlier, Friday isn't a new creation. She's over a decade old but she also hasn't been SEEN in about a decade. She was a forgotten character. Since we saw her last, assuming this is the SAME Friday, she's upgraded her look. Granted, the earlier Friday could change her look at will so this could just be more of that. The new Friday is a red head and her attitude is less perky and more sarcastic and berating. So she's more the kind of personal assistant that Tony needs and a worthy successor to Mrs. Arbogast.
Her advice about not being late pays off. Tony arrives at the restaurant moments before Amara does. The place is empty besides the two and the maitre d'. That's because Stark bought out the whole place for the evening so that he wouldn't be bothered by other people. And also because he's trying very, very hard to impress this lady.
Dr. Amara Perera is a biophysicist from Sri Lanka and she's pretty damn gorgeous. Cudos to the artist, David Marquez. She tells Tony that her friends warned her that he'd be late, show up in the Iron Man armor, and then tell her what an awesome guy he is. Since he only did the latter, he's coming out way ahead on this date. Stark explains that "that was the OLD me." This new version of himself is a whole four hours old. It'll stick, dammit.
In Osaka, Japan, Madam Masque is raiding the Stark Tower located there for some unknown reason. In her escape from the building, she's finds herself facing ninjas in a freefall. Possibly ROBOT ninjas. On the way down, Whitney just keeps shooting.
We're going to assume she landed on her feet because we cut away from Masque's raid and return to Tony and Amara's date. It's moved away from the empty restaurant and headed to the top of Stark Tower in New York City.
Before we get into the date, let's talk about Stark Tower. This is a DIFFERENT building that the one that last served as Avengers headquarters. It's all diagonal lines. Very slick but very new as well.
OK, back to the date. Stark and Perera are enjoying some dessert on top of a skyscraper. Tony is obviously showing off but he keeps denying it, saying things like "If I was trying to impress you, Doctor, I'd have Thor 'accidentally' stop by." When Amara tells him that she's leave if he actually did that, Tony quietly shoos Thor away before she notices.
Finally, Tony admits that he IS trying to impress her because she legitimately "intimidates" him with her big old brain. Dr. Amara Perera has written some papers and Tony's done the reading and he doesn't feel like he's the smartest person in the room. Which is WEIRD for him.
Also weird? He suddenly asks her if "she has one." When Amara doesn't immediately know what he's talking about, Tony just makes a bet with himself that she "has five." When Dr. Perera looks less that amused by his forthrightness, Tony finally admits that he wonders if she has some invention that would turn the world upside down and despite it's benign intentions, would be used poorly. The way he words this makes me think he's actually talking about how his Iron Man tech just ended up on the open market (again) but it might just be one of those questions.
Amara admits that she does, indeed, have "one." She has a cure for mutants. That's something Marvel has been looking for every since they realized that Fox was never going to give them the movie rights back.
Dr. Perera didn't figure it out maliciously. She just thought of it as a brain exercise and discovered a way that would make a mutant a baseline human without any harm to the mutant. There are definitely some mutants that would jump at the chance to be "normal." It's not exactly a unique idea. A cure showed up in Joss Whedon's run on Astonishing X-Men but House of M's decimation of the mutant population kind of fizzled the idea of a cure out of the storyline. But the repercussions of the cure are obvious. If it works, why not force them all to take it? Or maybe an anti-mutant group gets it's hands on it and forces the issue? So much that can go wrong if it's ever released to the public.
This is why Amara never even wrote it down. Tony warns her that if it's still in her head, someone might get at it psychically. There are ways to guard against that kind of thing and Stark assures her that he'll help.
And then he moves in for a kiss.
Yep, that was his move.
It doesn't work. Dr. Perera tells Tony that his reputation with the ladies is well known and that she's not going to kiss him on a first date.
Tony's actually surprised at being shutdown but, after his initial stunned expression wears off, he rolls with it and asks when they can have a second date.
Before Amara can answer, Friday interrupts. Madame Masque requires some Iron Man attention.
Our scene switches to Laveria where Madame Masque has broken into Castle Doomstadt and taken some other unknown object in a daring daytime raid.
Man, Beijing, Osaka, Latveria... Whitney Frost is racking up those frequent flier miles, here.
You may wonder to yourself how someone, even someone as skilled as Madame Masque, would be able to steal something from Castle Doomstadt. Well, it appears that the country has fallen into anarchy since Doctor Doom fell from power. If you were worried that you might hear Secret Wars spoilers in this book, you might want to stop reading right now.
If not, "Doom is no longer in control of Latveria" is only our first spoiler.
Back at Stark Tower, Friday has updated Tony Stark on Madame Masque's Latverian adventure. Tony armors up, asking Friday to apologize to his date but Friday just tells him that he already has.
The armoring up is actually kind of cool. I'm not sure where the bits are coming from, but some of it seems to grow from his glowing wristwatch. After a systems check and a double check on the first check, Iron Man takes to the sky with a sonic boom.
SHIELD satellites have already lost Madame Masque's location but Iron Man hopes he can pick it up in Latveria. Stark lands in Castle Doomstadt to find the place a blown out husk. This isn't from Whitney Frost's escapades. This is just the aftermath of a country thrown into chaos. With Doctor Doom gone, a number of forces have tried to fill the gaping hole left in his absence. None of them have succeeded, leaving a nation that is being torn apart by civil war.
As soon as Iron Man lands, he's approached by one of the factions vying for control of Latveria.
These militants demands that Tony Stark take off his new armored suit and give it to them. Since that's not going to happen, Iron Man tries to talk them down but forgets to turn on his English-to-Latverian translator.
It doesn't matter. The militants are taken down by a sonic attack that doesn't originate from Iron Man. The armor kept Tony safe from the attack without Tony even realizing it.
That sonic attack was delivered by the guy standing BEHIND Iron Man. The newcomer greets Tony, saying that he was going to search Iron Man out anyway so it's just as well they met here. The voice is familiar but Stark can't place the face.
Friday confirms the man's identity through a number of bioscans.
It's Doctor Victor Von Doom and he's wearing a brand new shiny, smirking face.