Marvel's New Iron Man Series Gives Tony Stark the 'Born Again' Treatment

Writer Gerry Duggan teases dark days ahead for Tony Stark, including the debut of Iron Man's answer to Lex Luthor.

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Marvel Comics has big plans for Iron Man as 2022 winds down. The upcoming anniversary issue Iron Man #650 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 crux 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 down to the slideshow gallery below for a preview of Duggan and artist Juan Frigeri's first issue (including two newly revealed, uncolored pages), and then read on to find out why there are very dark days ahead for Marvel's preeminent futurist.

The Autobiography of Tony Stark

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 difficult to separate the two. Should a writer channel Downey in their depiction of the Marvel Comics Tony Stark, or attempt to do something different with the character? Duggan believes that there's no getting around the Downey influence. Nor should there be.

"I think that is a big risk with many of these characters where I have people say, 'Oh, you're the biggest Deadpool writer of all time,' and blah blah," Duggan tells IGN. "And I have to stop them. And I say, actually, probably the most successful and the greatest Deadpool writers in terms of the way the world consumes this media is Ryan [Reynolds] and his collaborators on the features."

Duggan continues, "These are the stories that we're telling today that are of tomorrow and you're right. [Downey] was so successful at it that you do want to take stock. And part of the thing that I pitched Darren [Shan] and CB [Cebulski] and everyone is that I am a futurist. I read my science journals. I read Scientific American, but I don't know how to make armor. I'm not a technically proficient guy. I need the LEGO instructions on how to actually construct that sort of thing. So what I thought I would do that would help me have an Iron Man voice of my own, a Tony Stark voice of my own, is to give Tony something to build that I do know how to build. And so for his 60th, one of the things that Tony is doing as there's a lot of life happening to him is that Tony will be writing his autobiography."

Tony's attempt to chronicle his life's story will provide an early framing device for the series, one that will allow Duggan and Frigeri to revisit iconic moments from his superhero career. As the preview art above shows, 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 appearances as the series gets underway.

"One of the things I think we always love about Iron Man is... What is he wearing? What is the armor doing? What's the new thing? And part of the new thing is to see some of the old toys in new ways," Duggan says. "And so I think the first armor we will slip back into is the Silver Centurian armor. But as Tony is writing down his story, it'll allow us to do some hopefully effortless flashbacks. because there are a lot of armors that I'd love to get to go do that with. So the Stealth Armor is a must. Always a huge fan of the Suitcase Armor and putting together the armor in midair, but getting sucked out of the plane. And there was that really cool Undersea Armor."

Iron Man's Born Again Moment

Duggan reveals that he began reading comics in 1986, a particularly pivotal year for both Marvel and DC. 1986 is the year Frank Miller, having just fundamentally reinvented Batman in The Dark Knight Returns, teamed with artist Dave Mazzucchelli for Daredevil: Born Again. That landmark story captured Duggan's imagination, and it's one that's influencing 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 systematically destroying every aspect of Matt's personal life, leaving him homeless, destitute and alone. But as Fisk discovers, robbing Matt Murdock of all hope transforms him into a man with nothing left to lose.

While some might argue Tony already had his Born Again moment in 1979's Iron Man: Demon in a Bottle, that was ultimately a short-lived hurdle in Tony's life. Duggan has more ambitious and far-reaching plans in mind. Iron Man #650 will blow up the status quo, and Duggan's run picks up in the chaotic aftermath. Tony losing his fortune once again is just the opening salvo in a series of attacks from a very dangerous new villain, one whom Duggan is hoping to position as Iron Man's new archnemesis.

"It's very much evident out of the gate that someone is gunning for Tony Stark," Duggan teases. "He's been in that position before, but Tony doesn't really have a Lex Luthor opposite him at the moment... I think the writer secret that we never try to keep a secret, that we want to tell everyone when they want to break in, is be generous to your villains. Be good to your villains because they will nourish your story. And we do. We have a very big new threat that has Marvel DNA in it that is coming gunning for Tony. And it's a different version of a future. So we'll have competing visions of the future on display. And it is a real nice mystery out of the gate."

"He's been in that position before, but Tony doesn't really have a Lex Luthor opposite him at the moment."

Duggan is hesitant to reveal too much about this new villain and their larger Marvel Universe connections, but he is adamant that they're a character who earnestly believes themself to be the hero of this conflict. He also hints the series will deal with some unresolved secrets from Howard Stark's past.

"I think it's safe to say that there has not been a reckoning for some of the secrets that Howard Stark had. And so very much, it is a family drama, even though Howard is gone. [Jonathan] Hickman left a lot of gifts behind. Cantwell is leaving a lot of gifts behind. And the gift that I intend to bring to Tony as a forever gift, hopefully, and obviously future creators and future editors will get to decide this, is whether or not this new Iron Man villain that's coming along is going to be a forever gift. I certainly intend it to be."

Duggan has been an instrumental part of the X-Men franchise in recent years, including taking the reins of the flagship X-Men book in the wake of Hickman's departure. Duggan confirmed that he won't be leaving that series, but will continue to write both X-Men and Invincible Iron Man with an eye toward telling two long-form stories with clear endings in mind. And perhaps the two books will cross streams along the way.

"The fun thing about comic book brains is they are two totally different muscle groups, the way that we approach teen book and a solo book. So I can write for several hours some X-Men, and it's a completely different experience than opening the computer and working on Tony as he defends his life and the world against these big, big enemies and writing his autobiography," Duggan says. "I'm having a lot of fun working those two very different muscle groups. And I do hope that there is some way to cross over a little bit. We'll see. But we should really treat this Iron Man... It's my love letter to one of my favorite characters in an anniversary year. So I'm extremely privileged to be able to be telling my Iron Man story, which as I get older, I really do value the words, 'the end for now.' Maybe there's an ellipsis."

Invincible Iron Man #1 will arrive in comic shops and digital storefronts on December 7, 2022.

In other Iron Man news, EA Motive recently confirmed they're collaborating with Marvel Games on "an all-new single-player, action-adventure Iron Man game." Coupled with Amy Hennig's WWII-era Captain America/Black Panther game and Insomniac's Wolverine game, it's clear Marvel fans have a lot of gaming to look forward to in the next few years.


Jesse is a mild-mannered staff writer for IGN. Allow him to lend a machete to your intellectual thicket by following @jschedeen on Twitter.

This post might contain affiliation links. If you buy something through this post, the publisher may get a share of the sale.
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