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Iron Man 2020 #1: Review

Jan 2020
Dan Slott, Pete Woods

Story Name:

(no title given)

Review & Comments

4 stars

Iron Man 2020 #1 Review by (January 18, 2020)
This is the start of the Iron Man 2020 series which continues to be written by Dan Slott and Christos Gage, the scribes of Tony Stark: Iron Man.

The end of the issue has a checklist of the same-named event which contains at least 6 issues of this, plus previously-announced Machine Man 2020 #1-2, Force Works 2020 #1-3, Rescue 2020 #1-2, Iron Age #1 and Ironheart 2020 #1-2. Added to them is iWolverine #1-2 which is allegedly an ongoing series and which might feature Albert mentioned below.

Nick Fury LMDs play a part in this issue, and a Nick Fury probably-LMD appears in the current Black Panther And The Agents Of Wakanda #5-6 leading the long-forgotten Livewires LMD team. #6 isn't out yet but it may tie in to the robot revolution.

The South American country of Delvadia was invented in Daredevil #75-76 with the villain Condor (never seen again). It has been the home to several characters including  4 Tarantulas.

Dreadnought robots were created by Hydra in Strange Tales #154 but they've been used by other villains/groups since then. Lately Hydra used them again during Secret Empire.

Life Model Decoys were introduced in the very 1st Nick Fury, Agent Of SHIELD story in ST#135, robot duplicates of people used as decoys to get killed in their place. When Fury revealed his other job as the Man On The Wall in Original Sin #5 he claimed that most of his SHIELD apps were really LMDs. The 1st LMD was a robot created by Leonardo da Vinci (Jonathan Hickman's SHIELD v2 #1) to impersonate him after he left for the 1950's. Nick Fury discovered it in Leonardo's tomb in Secret Warriors #25-26.

Quasimodo (Quasi-Motivational Destruct Organism) was a sentient computer by Mad Thinker in Fantastic Four Annual #4, and given his mobile body by Silver Surfer in FF An#5. His latest app was in the Slapstick (2017) series.

Machinesmith was originally villain Starr Saxon in DD#49-53 although he is now credited as being behind the robot Demi-Men in the earlier X-Men #49-52. He then took over the identity of Mr Fear in DD#54-55 but apparently died. However his robots downloaded his mind into a robot and he returned in Marvel Two-In-One #47-48 as Machinesmith. He continued in a career menacing Captain America and others, and working for Red Skull. He most recently appeared in 2019's She-Hulk Annual, body-swapping with her and Bullseye.

The Awesome Android was another Mad Thinker creation (FF#15) and was used by him many times. As revealed in She-Hulk (2005) #14 he became an AI while fighting Thor. He left Thinker and She-Hulk's law firm helped him get pardoned for the things Thinker had made him do, and he started working for them as a gopher named Awesome Andy. But he later returned to Thinker, and his latest app was with him in the Monsters Unleashed (2017) series.

Donald Pierce of the Reavers built an android Wolverine in Wo#37 and partnered it with a bomb in the form of a little girl android named Elsie Dee. But Elsie was accidentally an AI, and she made her partner an AI too and called him Albert. They had various adventures in that series until #86. Albert was last seen on a rampage searching for Elsie in the Hunt For Wolverine: Weapon Lost mini-series where he was apparently deactivated. But he's back now.

HERBIE (Humanoid Experimental Robot B-Type Integrated Electronics or maybe Highly Engineered Robot Built For Interdimensional Exploration) was created by Mr Fantastic in FF#209 and subsequently used mainly as a minder (brain the size of a planet ...) for Franklin Richards. In the recent Incoming 1-shot Valeria Richards gave him independence and he quit, to wind up here.

M-11/the Human Robot was created in 1954's Menace #11, retold very differently in Agents Of Atlas (2006) #6. He became a member of the super-powered G-Men in AOA flashbacks (and in an alternate timeline they were known as the 1950's Avengers (What If #9). And they were revived as the modern day AOA. He was last seen with the team in a backup tale in #1 of the latests AOA series.

The bomb disposal robot reveres the name of Flexo who was a very early robot created in 1940's Mystic Comics #1. (But of course he was preceded by the android Human Torch.)


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Iron Man 2020 #1 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The contents page for this 1st issue summarises the position succinctly for us. At the end of the Tony Stark: Iron Man series Tony Stark revealed that he is an AI mind in an artificial body, and the real Tony died a while ago. His brother Arno Stark conspired with Sunset Bain to take over Stark Unlimited and make it part of Baintronics. And Arno has replaced Tony as Iron Man.

The last 2 pages of the issue give a more comprehensive background.
In the Secret Origin Of Tony Stark arc in Iron Man (2012) Tony learned that he is adopted, and Arno is the real child of Howard Stark and Maria Stark. Flashbacks told us that Arno was genetically modified in the womb by Rigellian Recorder 451 to be the genius defender of Earth against alien threats. But he was born needing an iron lung to survive and was hidden from the Recorder by his parents. The Recorder believed Tony was the result of his work.
In the World's Most Wanted arc in Iron Man (2008) Tony wiped his own brain to keep the Superhero Registration Act database out of the hands of Norman Osborn. Later his mind was reloaded form an old backup copy.
In the Secret Origin arc the Recorder gave Tony a cosmic Godkiller armour to defend Earth with, but since Tony's not Arno it wouldn't obey him. The Recorder committed robot suicide and then Tony located Arno and brought him safely out of hiding. In International Iron Man Tony found his birth mother Amanda Armstrong.
In Civil War II Tony was severely injured by Captain Marvel and went into a coma due to changes he'd made to his body over the years. (So we don't *actually* know that original Tony is dead.) In Iron Man (2016) he left Riri Williams an AI version of himself to be a mentor and run *her* Iron Man armour.
In the Iron Man Legacy issues some version of Tony returned. Later Arno claimed that he created the body and downloaded a Tony AI into it.
In the Tony Stark: Iron Man series Tony hired Andy Bhang and the robot Jocasta, and created Dr Shapiro the talking cat scientist. Arno used his technology to create bodies for his dead parents and downloaded their stored brain patterns into them. Then when Tony admitted to being an AI he lost his human rights which enabled Arno to inherit all his stuff.

Arno Stark has a nightmare of facing an alien being called the Extinction Entity without any weapons. He awakes and we learn that somehow he has known 'for all his life' that this Entity will arrive on Earth in 2020. (Does this mean that *this* is what Recorder 451 created him to fight?) And now the Stark satellites detect the faint trace of its approach. He must rally a defence of the Earth.

But 1st he must have breakfast with his parents. Howard and Maria are happy that their son brought them back to life, but they're chafing at his restrictions - he won't let them leave the Baintronics building. Arno guilt-trips them about keeping *him* locked away for years in a private hospital. Then he ends the discussion when Sunset Bain calls to tell him some more robots are rebelling.

Arno dons his Iron Man 2020 armour and jets off to deal with the situation. A bunch of LMDs of the original Nick Fury are holding prisoner the human supervisor of a robot work gang on a high-rise project while they convince the workers to join the robot revolution. Iron Man blasts in the head the Fury holding the human and tells the others to surrender. But the other LMDs usher the constructo-bots into a large lift that takes them down the outside of the building - until IM blasts *that* to pieces.

A reporter asks Arno where Tony Stark is. Arno insists his brother is long-dead and the version they've seen lately was just an AI robot. We see other reporters asking the same question of others. Tony's girlfriend Janet Van Dyne (Wasp) insists that recent-Tony is as human as anyone, but she hasn't seen him since his revelation. War Machine (Tony's friend Col James Rhodes) is leading a new Force Works team (including Gauntlet, Baintronics' (ex?) security chief) putting down a group of Dreadnought robots in Delvadia - he says he doesn't know where Tony is but he wouldn't tell them if he did. Amateur footage is aired of Stark buying booze (at the end of 'last' issue he *was* contemplating giving into 'his' alcoholism). Sunset tells them to forget about the Tony clone - the real spirit of Tony Stark is here in the Stark Unlimited division of Baintronics.

She enters that building to supervise what is kept and what gets junked. She is accosted by Andy Bhang and Dr Shapiro who agreed to stay on as long as they get to look after their friend Jocasta (whose robot body was heavily damaged by Ultron in TSIM). Ms Bain says Jocasta's body is Stark property so she can do what she wants with it. (The robot body was built by Tony for the Friday AI. Jocasta's AI was created by Ultron, who in turn was created by Henry Pym. So *it* doesn't belong to SU, but Sunset doesn't believe AI's are sentient.) Then she turns to the cat and removes its collar - which *is* SU property. She claims that the Dr Shapiro AI is in the collar (and the now-speechless cat *does* start acting like a normal feline).

Iron Man's next stop is the Uncanny Valley robot bar being raided by the EXE (whatever that stands for?). Iron Man arrives and stops a runner. But he was just a diversion and the rest have disappeared. It seems that the wreckage of the the lift earlier contained no robot parts so *they* escaped too. Arno tries to get the 1 robot they do have to tell them who's leading the robot army but he won't squeal.

We however can see their base where we find Machine Man/Aaron Stack and 2 Fury LMDs (1 of which is headless courtesy of Iron Man but still functioning). MM gives the assembled 'bots a stirring speech, and the headless LMD says Mark can give him a new head. Aaron knows that he personally is fighting to get his lover Jocasta back. Then Quasimodo takes him to Machinesmith to see a news report where Sunset and Arno have bought a robotics/AI factory Robowerx - and they destroy it to stop the robo-terrorists getting potential new recruits. After the cameras stop rolling Arno explains to his partner that it was worth the cost to make the rebels angry so they'll make mistakes.

2 days later he gets the reaction - a very large bomb attached to the outside of the Windsor-Smith Hospital (Barry W-S presumably donated a lot of money to the place). A hologram of Machine Man tells the bomb squad that he'll allow them to evacuate all floors but the maternity wing before he detonates it. If the meatbags want to cut off supplies of new robots then they'll cut off supplies of new humans. The squad send in an AI bomb disposal robot but MM appears in person to talk the little 'bot out of it. Then Iron Man arrives and tries to persuade Aaron Stack to convince his troops to aid IM in fighting a greater menace (the Extinction Entity). But Stack ignores him and triggers the bomb. IM has 2 minutes to take it to explode harmlessly in space.

When Arno returns he is told that Machine Man casually took the bomb disposal robot into the hospital. IM detects that they took an elevator but now can't scan them anywhere. The 2 'bots stopped at Floor 13 (which doesn't exist) and exited through a portal into the secret base called the 13th Floor. Aaron explains that it is composed of solid light, and humans can't detect it or find it. (Is it in another universe?)

The bdr recognises some of the robots/androids present:- the Awesome Android, Albert and HERBIE. I also recognise M-11/the Human Robot, a Sentinel and the Wild Bill robot from Strange Tales (SHIELD) #142. Stack takes the little 'bot to meet the real leader Mark, who created this place and keeps it running. Mark is wearing the original bulky grey Iron Man armour, and tells the 'bot to call him Mark 1. The voice is Tony Stark's but he says he's not Tony, just an echo of him. He takes off his helmet and we see a long-haired bearded face (looking rather like current Sub-Mariner, or even the Mandarin). He proclaims himself fully-AI and promises to lead them into their destined future.

Pete Woods
Pete Woods
Pete Woods
Pete Woods (Cover Penciler)
Pete Woods (Cover Inker)
Pete Woods (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Janet Van Dyne
Janet Van Dyne

(Janet Pym)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

Plus: Andy Bhang, Dr Shapiro, Howard Stark, Iron Man 2020, Machinesmith, Maria Stark, Mark 1 (Tony Stark), Quasimodo, Sunset Bain (Madame Menace).

> Iron Man 2020: Book info and issue index

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