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Invincible Iron Man #17: Review

Oct 2013
Kieron Gillen, Scott Hanna

Story Name:

The secret origin of Tony Stark: Conclusion

Review & Comments

4.5 stars

Invincible Iron Man #17 Review by (October 27, 2013)
Well, Kieron Gillen got me there! The publisher's blurb said that there was something Recorder 451 didn't know about Tony Stark's birth. I guessed it would explain why Tony was unable to control the Godkiller, which 451's secret mod was designed for. And the 1st half of the book suggested that Howard had just deleted that extra mod. Plot point resolved! But then Kieron pulls the rug out from under our feet. Looking back over the issues I can see now that 451 in the present day referred to the baby as Tony, but no-one in the past did, because the name hadn't been chosen yet. Now we know the baby was actually Arno Stark. Tony was adopted, and we don't know who his biological parents were. In a text page Kieron Gillen explains that he had to do this ending. Having Tony's genius the result of 451's manipulation would undermine the character's sense of self-worth too much. Personally I don't think it would change things in reality. Stark's achievements are due to his inborn talents and his hard work. Where the talents came from isn't a problem for me. It isn't the 1st use of the name Arno Stark. Iron Man 2020 was Arno Stark, the son of Tony's cousin Morgan. He 1st appeared in 1984 when 2020 was a long way in the future. But something that looked like IM 2020's armour was seen in 1 of the predictions that opened #1 of the current Avengers series - the Fall that is supposed to follow the War that we are seeing in Infinity. Maybe the new Arno will put on such an armour, in an extreme version of Tony's original need for his armour to keep his heart going. So maybe this is a redefinition of IM 2020.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Invincible Iron Man #17 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Tony Stark is listening to a recording left for him by his dead father, while driving to the Maria Stark Foundation Hospice. Howard Stark is trying to find the words to confess something to his son. But Tony cuts it off when he arrives, because he's already been through it before.

Cut to a flashback to #11 where Howard and Maria Stark were considering whether to accept Recorder 451's offer to save their unborn son's life by advanced genetic manipulation, and at the same time make him a genius who would build weapons to defend Earth from aliens. We now see what we didn't then, that the couple didn't trust 451 but they'd accept his offer and Howard would keep a close eye on what the Recorder did.

Near the end of the process Howard noticed that 451 had sneaked in an extra modification. He couldn't work out what it would do, but could tell that it would switch on during maturity. He feared that 451 had installed a suicide switch to limit the child's life. But whatever it was, if 451 kept it secret then Howard didn't want it, so he negated the mod without telling his wife. And 451 left without detecting the change.

The baby was born in #12 and the initial sequence ended with 451 gone and the parents considering the baby's name. But the flashback now continues with the baby quickly getting ill. The diagnosis was that he'd need continuous medical support to live. Howard had to confess to Maria what he'd done, which didn't go down well. They realised they'd have to keep the baby hidden so that 451 wouldn't find out.

In the present Tony is in the Hospice remembering more of what Howard's recorded message had said. How they needed another baby to cover for their son's absence. The problem that they'd originally brought 451 in to solve meant that they couldn't have another child naturally. So they had to adopt - Tony.

And Tony enters a hospice room containing a man in a life support machine. Arno Stark, a brother he never knew he had.

Arno can't speak, and has to communicate by keyboard. But otherwise he looks OK, just a bit haggard. And he turns out to be even more of a genius than his brother.

They discuss stuff. Tony now realises why Howard had always been distant from him. He tells Arno that 451 is dead, so he doesn't have to be a secret any more. And Arno has lots of ideas, that he and Tony will now be able to realise together.

Preview Pages
Click sample interior pages to enlarge them:

Scott Hanna
Scott Hanna
Paul Renaud (Cover Penciler)
Paul Renaud (Cover Inker)
Paul Renaud (Cover Colorist)
Layouts: Carlo Pagulayan. Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Mark Paniccia.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

Plus: Howard Stark, Maria Stark.

> Invincible Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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