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Avengers #31: Review

Feb 2020
Jason Aaron, Gerardo Zaffino

Story Name:

The temptation of Anthony Stark

Review & Comments

4 stars

Avengers #31 Review by (March 1, 2020)
There's a whole list of penciller/inkers on this issue:- Gerardo Zaffino, Geraldo Borges, Szymon Kudranski, Oscar Bazaldua, Robert Gill and Mattia De Iulis. Mattia De Iulis also helps Rachelle Rosenberg with the colouring, presumably on his own stuff.

So this whole trip to prehistory was just Mephisto trying to mess with Tony Stark's mind.

Are the visions Tony has on his way back to the present all things that have happened while he's been away? The baby Starbrand obviously is, and Carol Danvers' face melting off could refer to her reverting to Binary in this series too. The future Phoenix/Wolverine and Thor's future granddaughters have been around for a while. But I don't know why Asgard and Wakanda are no more, or why Captain America is using a green drug and what's happened to Thing. And several people he knows are a new Phoenix.

Mephisto has been trapped in Vegas since he lost the throne of Hell to Ghost Rider (Johhny Blaze) in the Damnation event.

Howard Stark is presumably the dead guy brought back from Hell by Mephisto, and nothing to do with the AI version in Iron Man 2020.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Avengers #31 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Iron Man got magically sent back to 1 Million BC in #25 and he met the Avengers (1MBC) in #28.

But we start with a flashback to his childhood where young Tony Stark sees his father Howard hosting a secret bacchanalian/satanist gathering masked as a devil.

But 'now' in the deep past he's holed up in a cave which contains some vibranium ore which he's been using to power his repulsor rays to keep away predators. But the ore is running out. And he's expecting another visit from the devil.

It was some weeks ago he met the 'Avengers' when he still had his armour working. He was attacked by the 1st Ghost Rider and his fire-breathing mastodon, by the hulking 1st human Starbrand and by Mjolnir-wielding Odin. He escaped from them and Agamotto and the 1st Black Panther. But he was met in the sky by Lady Phoenix (possessed by the Phoenix Force) who told him that they were not allowed to interfere in his trials but she warned him to 'remember the face of the devil'.

Since then his armour almost ran out of power while he searched for something like vibranium, and hopefully a discarded time machine. Local cavemen started treating him like a god, bringing him offerings of drink which the recovering alcoholic of course refused. Then they started to become more insistent that he take it, and he had to fight them off.

He didn't realise what all this temptation was really about until the devil visited him as a flaming serpent who wanted to trade for his soul. The snake claimed that he made Howard Stark smart and the price was adopting Tony. And he further claimed that Tony is *his* son. So Tony clubbed the snake to death with his helmet.

He's been waiting since then for another visitation by the serpent, killing snakes when he finds them to attract its attention. But instead next came the leader of the Gorgillas with the Power Stone embedded in his diamond fist (a gift of the fiery serpent in #13) who left Tony nearly dead with his armour completely broken.

Now Tony has used the last vibranium power to create a new armour in which to face the devil. The coming is announced by the snakes he's killed reviving as zombies. Stark faces them as Ice Age Man encrusted in ice armour with ice spikes on his fists and bits of tech attached.

This time the devil appears as Howard Stark in the cultist robes from the start of this issue. Tony's ice armour somehow fires ice spikes at him but of course they have no effect. The devil offers him  mastery of the world in return for a handshake and a "Please". But Tony just spikes him in the head. 'Howard' falls down 'dead' ...

... but then rises as Mephisto, again claiming to be his true father. And the future Howard Stark will promise him Tony. He reveals the Time Stone in his hand, which is how he knows about the future.

The Avengers 1MBC are watching (including the 1st Iron Fist). Agamotto is confidant of Tony's success because "There must always be a Tony Stark in every existence". Lady Phoenix enigmatically says "And we will need them all. Especially this one".

Ice Man's armour is melting as they fight. Mephisto details his offer as a life for Tony without any of his problems, and as the 1 and only Avenger, hero of the world. Tony's response is to channel the remains of his power to blast the Time Stone. But it is unharmed and Mephisto uses it to send him forward through time.

On the way he has visions of the future he's heading for, some of which I recognise. Tony arrives in the present and dons some more Iron Man armour before going to visit Mephisto, currently imprisoned in Las Vegas (he learns from Dr Strange). The devil makes his offer again. Tony tells him where to shove it.

After he's gone a figure emerges to talk with Mephisto. The devil claims he never expected Tony to accept his offer, but to sow seeds of doubt and fear which will somehow also infect the Tony Stark's in all other timelines. They're going to have to fight them all before it's over. And his companion is revealed as Howard Stark, still alive and ready to tell his master how to break Tony.

Gerardo Zaffino
Gerardo Zaffino
Rachelle Rosenberg
Gerardo Zaffino (Cover Penciler)
Gerardo Zaffino (Cover Inker)
Gerardo Zaffino (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Avengers (1MBC) (1M BC Avengers), Howard Stark.

> Avengers: Book info and issue index

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