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Tony Stark: Iron Man #10: Review

Apr 2019
Dan Slott, Valerio Schiti

Story Name:

Stark realities: Part 5 - Parental code

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tony Stark: Iron Man #10 Review by (April 26, 2019)
Jim Zub helps Dan Slott write this again.

I hadn't actually twigged that as of #8 Friday is dead (for whatever that means in the Marvel Universe, especially for an AI).

Iron Man (2013) #9-17 revealed that Howard and Maria Stark's unborn son was genetically modified by a Rigellian Recorder to become a technological genius to help protect Earth against aliens. But this son Arno was born needing to live his life in an iron lung. The parents hid him away and adopted Tony, who by a strange coincidence grew up to be a technological genius who could help protect Earth against aliens. Tony found Arno in #17, and since then Arno has made himself able to live outside the lung.

International IM #5-7 finally unveiled Amanda Armstrong as Tony's real mother.

Howard Stark's Arsenal robots lay hidden under Avengers Mansion (previously the Stark family mansion) until 1 of them activated in IM #114. The Mistress controlling computer was discovered in Av Annual #9.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tony Stark: Iron Man #10 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Controller has taken over Stark Unlimited's new eScape VR and populated it with hostile players who had been banned. And what's more he's given them the same weapons and equipment in reality as their avatars have in VR, leading to worldwide chaos. Jocasta has made it to SU HQ to co-ordinate efforts to deal with things. But the robot Robotics Ethicist finds the robot body of Friday lying on the floor. Someone explains that Tony Stark transferred her consciousness back into his armour to act as its AI instead of the suspect Motherboard. Jocasta is appalled that they left her body lying around just because she isn't human, and gets the someone to take her somewhere more comfortable. (But we learned in #8 that Motherboard had actually deleted Friday and taken back control of the armour.)

Then she contacts Andy Bhang who's building an override device to break Controller's control and stop him syphoning energy from the VR players. Next up is James Rhodes in the Manticore who reports that he and Wasp have been joined by Gauntlet and Baintronics Security troops to fight the now-giant Controller. (Controller has been using 1 of Baintronics' factories to create and ship stuff to the not-so-Virtual players.) Sunset Bain then calls SU to suggest the companies team-up to fight the menace. Jocasta gives her partial access to the eScape network, but she doesn't know that Tony's equally-genius brother Arno Stark is allied with Bain and will soon turn that into full access.

Jocasta asks Janet van Dyne where Tony is because his armour's GPS says he's with them. But Jocasta's boyfriend Machine Man interrupts to say that Tony's in eScape with him and Amanda Armstrong. Jocasta had sent Aaron Stack in with his special version of the eScape interface mask which allowed him to be undetectable by the system. The Motherboard AI had sucked Stark's mind from his armour into the VR where she'd taken the role of his (adoptive) mother Maria Stark and reverted him to the alcoholic playboy he used to be. She'd changed the avatar of Amanda (Tony's birth mother) to resemble the early Black Widow so Tony would treat her as an enemy.

Now Aaron and Amanda are contending with Maria for Tony's loyalty. At last Tony throws off her influence. He blames Controller for corrupting Motherboard but Machine Man tells him Basil Sandhurst has nothing to do with it. And tactfully points out that Tony is VR naked. Maria, avatar of the system, can't tell who Tony is talking to, but her 'husband' Howard Stark *can* see MM and attacks him in his role as Arsenal the admin enforcer. He shreds the VR robot to pieces, and this even does damage to Aaron in the real world.

Meanwhile Motherboard tries to win Tony's affections by placing him (and Amanda) in an Arthurian setting (young Tony loved the Knights Of The Round table). She also tries to get him to continue drinking. Which carries over into the next scenario - the 'Star Wars cantina'. But Stark keeps demanding to be returned to the real world to defeat the Controller. So 'Maria' turns him into pre-teen Tony and tells him to play with his toys. This Tony doesn't recognise Amanda because he was raised by the Starks.

Jocasta contacts the real-world Aaron and tells him to get out of eScape. But Aaron elects to stay so he can be a link between her and the VR. (Even though he hates Tony Stark as an oppressor of robots and AIs.) Andy Bhang has finished his disruptor gun and tried it out on SU Security Chief Bethany Cabe, who is now released from Controller's control. Next he wants to bring his love Amanda out of eScape but she says she won't leave without Tony. So he makes a recording of the electronic signal the gun emits and sends it heroes facing the rioting eScapers. We see  Crimson Dynamo and Darkstar of the Winter Guard in Moscow and Captain America somewhere else using the sound to free people from the VR. And Ironheart and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) blast the sound through loudspeakers.

At the Baintronics site Controller knocks Rhodey's Manticore through a wall where he sees 3D printers creating unlicensed eScape interface masks. Sunset Bain claims that Controller must have hacked the production line for his own purposes. But it seems that this was actually why she wanted access to the eScape system. She tells Arno to grab any more data he can see and then get out quick before he's discovered. But Arno is more interested in what he can see through the VR surveillance system ...

... which is the melodrama in the system's Home room. Amanda is still trying to persuade Tony she's his real mother. She lets slip that she can now leave the VR whenever she wants. Tony reminds her of what 'Maria' revealed last issue, that his continual tinkering with his own body means that he no longer shares DNA with Amanda. And he banishes her back to reality. Maria and Howard think they've won, but Tony rejects them too. They aren't the real couple. Howard put his own brain patterns into the original Arsenal robots and Maria's into a computer called Mistress that controlled them. Tony extracted those programs and used them in his eScape system. He made everything that his Stark companies produced, and he remade himself too.

Now he creates a VR Iron Man armour for himself, and blasts Howard/Arsenal out of virtual existence. Motherboard tries to turn the whole VR against him but he moves into a new Godbuster armour. But the battle is more 1 of words as he reveals that he knows he was just an adopted decoy to hide Howard and Maria's real son Arno (the Secret Origin Of Tony Stark). This discombobulates Mistress enough that he's able to send her to follow Howard into oblivion.

Now he reverts to (naked) VR Tony in a white space with only Machine Man's VR head for company. Aaron puts him in touch with Jocasta who says they can't locate his armour with his real body in it. Tony explains that's because Friday's no longer in there to respond (or Motherboard either). He suddenly feels hot (and I think breathless) and collapses.

And in the real world we see his armour floating inert in space.

Valerio Schiti
Valerio Schiti
Edgar Delgado
Alexander Lozano (Cover Penciler)
Alexander Lozano (Cover Inker)
Alexander Lozano (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Captain America
Captain America

(Steve Rogers)
Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes


(Miles Morales)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Amanda Armstrong, Andy Bhang, Bethany Cabe, Controller (Basil Sandhurst), Crimson Dynamo (Dmitri Bukharin), Friday (Friday Stark), Gauntlet, Ironheart (Riri Williams), Jocasta (Jocasta Pym), Motherboard, Sunset Bain (Madame Menace).

> Tony Stark: Iron Man: Book info and issue index

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