Marvel Comics has big plans for Iron Man in late 2022. The upcoming Iron Man #650 anniversary issue will serve as the conclusion to writer Christopher Cantwell’s Tony Stark: Iron Man series. Cantwell’s story will deliver a major bombshell in Tony Stark’s life that forms the heart of Marvel’s relaunched Invincible Iron Man series in December 2022. In fact, Tony may be facing his own version of Matt Murdock’s perilous journey in Daredevil: Born Again.
IGN was lucky enough to be the first outlet to speak with incoming writer Gerry Duggan (Deadpool, X-Men) about his plans for the new series. Head to the slideshow gallery below for a preview of the first issue from Duggan and artist Juan Frigeri (including two newly revealed uncolored pages), then read on to find out why there are very dark before Marvel’s preeminent futurist.
Invincible Iron Man #1 Preview Gallery
Tony Stark’s Autobiography
There’s always an elephant in the room with any modern Iron Man comic. The character has become so indelibly linked to actor Robert Downey, Jr’s performance in the MCU that it’s hard to separate the two. Should a writer channel Downey in his Marvel Comics portrayal of Tony Stark, or attempt to do something different with the character? Duggan thinks there’s no getting around Downey’s influence. There shouldn’t be.
“I think it’s a big risk with a lot of these characters where I have people going, ‘Oh, you’re the greatest Deadpool writer ever,’ and blah blah,” Duggan told IGN. “And I have to stop them. And I’m saying, in fact, that Ryan is probably Deadpool’s greatest and greatest writer when it comes to how the world consumes this medium. [Reynolds] and his collaborators on feature films.”
Duggan continues, “The stories we tell today are the stories of tomorrow and you’re right. [Downey] was so successful that you want to take stock. And part of the thing that I threw Darren [Shan] and credit card [Cebulski] and everyone is that I’m a futurist. I read my scientific journals. I read Scientific American, but I don’t know how to make armor. I’m not a technically competent guy. I need LEGO instructions on how to build this sort of thing. So what I thought I was doing to help me have my own Iron Man voice, a Tony Stark voice of mine, is give Tony something to build that I know how to build. And so for his 60th birthday, one of the things Tony is doing because there’s a lot of life happening to him is Tony is going to write his autobiography.”
Tony’s attempt to tell his life story will provide an early framing device for the series, allowing Duggan and Frigeri to revisit iconic moments from his superhero career. As seen in the preview above, issue #1 will kick things off with a look back at Iron Man’s origin. Fans can expect many classic eras and iconic armors to make an appearance as the series rolls on.
“One of the things that I think we always love about Iron Man is… What’s he wearing? What’s the armor doing? What’s new? And part of the newness is seeing some of the old toys in a new way,” says Duggan. “And so I think the first armor we’re going to slip into is the Silver Centurian armor. But while Tony is writing his story, it will allow us to do some flashbacks, hopefully effortlessly. Because there’s has a lot of armor that I’m loving doing this with. So stealth armor is a must. Still a big fan of suitcase armor and building armor in the air, but getting sucked out of the plane. And there was this really cool underwater armor.”
Iron Man’s moment of rebirth
Duggan reveals that he started reading comics in 1986, a particularly pivotal year for Marvel and DC. 1986 was the year Frank Miller, who had just fundamentally reinvented Batman in The Dark Knight Returns, teamed up with artist Dave Mazzucchelli for Daredevil: Born Again. This landmark story captured Duggan’s imagination, and it’s one that influences his work on Iron Man in more ways than one.
Born Again chronicles the lowest point in Matt Murdock’s life (or, to paraphrase Homer Simpson, the lowest point so far). Unbeknownst to him, Kingpin has discovered his secret identity and begins to systematically destroy every aspect of Matt’s personal life, leaving him homeless, destitute and alone. But as Fisk discovers, depriving Matt Murdock of all hope turns him into a man with nothing left to lose.
See the iconic covers of Daredevil: Born Again
While some might say Tony already had his Born Again moment in 1979’s Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle, it was ultimately a short-lived obstacle in Tony’s life. Duggan has bigger and bigger plans in mind. Iron Man #650 will shatter the status quo and Duggan’s run will resume in the chaotic sequels. Tony losing his fortune again is just the first salvo in a series of attacks from a very dangerous new villain, the one Duggan hopes to position as Iron Man’s new nemesis.
“It’s very obvious from the start that someone is shooting Tony Stark,” Duggan teases. “He’s been in this position before, but Tony doesn’t really have a Lex Luthor in front of him right now…I think the writer’s secret that we never try to keep secret, that we mean to everyone when they want to break in, that’s being generous to your bad guys. Be good to your bad guys because they will feed your story. And we do. We have a really big new threat that contains Marvel DNA and who’s going after Tony. And it’s a different version of a future. So we’ll have competing visions of the future on display. And that’s a real beautiful mystery out of the gate.
Duggan is hesitant to say too much about this new villain and his broader relationship to the Marvel Universe, but he’s adamant that this is a character who genuinely believes himself to be the hero of this conflict. He also hints that the series will deal with some unsolved secrets from Howard Stark’s past.
“I think it’s safe to say there has been no account for some of the secrets that Howard Stark had. And so much, it’s a family drama, even though Howard is gone. [Jonathan] Hickman left many gifts behind. Cantwell leaves many gifts behind. And the gift that I intend to give Tony as a gift forever, hopefully, and obviously future creators and future editors will decide, is whether or not this new Iron villain Man who arrives will be a gift forever. I certainly intend that to be the case.”
Duggan has been instrumental in the X-Men franchise in recent years, including taking the reins of the seminal X-Men book following Hickman’s departure. Duggan confirmed that he would not be leaving this series, but would continue to write both X-Men and Invincible Iron Man with the goal of telling two long stories with clear endings in mind. And maybe both books will cross some streams along the way.
“The fun thing about comic book brains is that they’re two totally different muscle groups, the way we approach a teen book and a solo book. So I can write X-Men for several hours , and it’s a completely different experience to open up the computer and work on Tony as he defends his life and the world against these great, great enemies and writes his autobiography,” Duggan said. “I’m having a lot of fun working these two very different muscle groups. And I’m hoping there’s a way to cross over a bit. We’ll see. But we should really deal with this Iron Man…It’s my love letter to one of my favorite characters in a birthday year, so I’m extremely privileged to be able to tell my Iron Man story, which as I get older I really appreciate the words, “the end for now”. ‘There may be ellipsis.’
Invincible Iron Man #1 will hit comic shops and digital storefronts on December 7, 2022.
In other Iron Man news, EA Motive recently confirmed that it is collaborating with Marvel Games on “an all-new single-player Iron Man action-adventure game.” Coupled with Amy Hennig’s WWII-era Captain America/Black Panther game and Insomniac’s Wolverine game, it’s clear Marvel fans have plenty of games to look forward to in the coming years.
Jesse is a mild-mannered writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by follow @jschedeen on Twitter.