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Tony Stark: Iron Man #15: Review

Aug 2019
Dan Slott, Juanan Ramirez

Story Name:

Echo chamber

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tony Stark: Iron Man #15 Review by (September 8, 2019)
Jim Zub continues to help Dan Slott with the script. And this issue's temporary penciller/inker Juanan Ramirez is aided by Francesco Manna.

This issue is old-home week for a couple of foes from Machine Man's 1st series.
Senator Miles Brickman showed his ant-robot colours in many issues of that series from #7. He was also present in the Cable & Machine Man 1998 Annual, and followed his target into the X-51 series.
Sunset Bain may be mainly an adversary of Tony Stark but she started her comics life as Madame Menace in Machine Man #17-18.

Ironheart's Tony Stark AI was last seen in Iron Man #600 at the end of his Legacy run. However its voice was heard in Ironheart's armour in Champions (2016) #23. So was it still in the armour in Infinity Countdown: Champs #2 when Thanos destroyed it on a faraway planet? Riri Williams then built a whole new armour and AI NATALIE for her own series.
I presume that Ultron, directly or indirectly, gave the AI to Brickman. But how did *he* get it? There was an Ultron spy-drone onsite in IC:Ch#2 so maybe it downloaded the program.
The IM Legacy issues did suggest that AI Tony wasn't limited to Ironheart's armour. So Ultron (or whoever) could have got it from somewhere else. But this would suggest that the AI isn't as dead we are led to believe here and probably still exists in other places.

Tony Stark says he's now a 3-deep copy. I read this as:- 3rd copy this issue. 2nd copy recreating himself in the Legacy issues after dying in Civil War II. The 1st copy happened in Iron Man (2008) #21. Tony had wiped his own brain during Dark Reign and now his memories were reloaded from a (pre-Civil War I) backup.

Ultron's body has been half Henry Pym since the Avengers: Rage Of Ultron GN. Initially his mind was also half Pym, but Henry's soul was sent into the Soul Gem in IC: Prime, where it was consumed by Devondra in IC#5. However there is the possibility that was only a fragment of his soul (as was that of Gamora), and Pym is still inside Ultron.
Ultron is obviously gathering his 'family' again. He considers Pym his father and Wasp his mother. Vision is his son. Possibly Wonder Man is included because Vision's mind was originally a copy of Simon Williams.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tony Stark: Iron Man #15 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Tony Stark is attending a Congressional Hearing about the damage caused by Stark Unlimited's VR system eScape (#6-11). Senator Miles Brickman is grilling him relentlessly. Stark explains that the super-villain Controller hacked into the system and caused the problem. Despite that his company is actively seeking out all the people who affected and giving them compensation. But he is forced to admit that the AI (Motherboard) in charge of eScape was also at fault, but its programming had been corrupted. But then he is led to explain that the AI was autonomous, ie designed to work within certain parameters but to learn on the job and make its own decisions. Brickman then asks if the *AI* was responsible for the damage? Stark replies that it has never been established in a court of law whether a fully autonomous AI can be held responsible for its actions. The Senator says that the point is moot anyway because Motherboard was destroyed.

Brickman then changes tack. He gets Stark to confirm that he has used his tech to upgrade his own body and mind, and asks him how much of himself is left? And in fact can he prove that he himself is not an AI? Tony hesitates to answer because that's just the kind of question he's been struggling with all this series (since he rebooted himself in his Legacy issues after 'dying' in Civil War II). But eventually he replies that yes, he *might* be an AI. We see the reaction of James Rhodes in the audience, Janet Van Dyne, Andy Bhang and Bethany Cabe watching the event on TV. And at Baintronics its CEO Sunset Bain laughs her head off and Tony's brother Arno Stark finds it very interesting.

Unknown to Tony, Arno rescued the Motherboard AI modelled on his mother along with the Arsenal AI(?) based on his father and has them running as holograms at Baintronics. But he switches them off to go to attend to his guest the robot Jocasta who wants her body upgraded to a more human state. Her (ex-)boyfriend Aaron Stack, the activist robot Machine Man, continues to try to talk her out of it. But Jo goes with Arno leaving Aaron to be taunted by his old foe Sunset.

At the Capitol the Senator has upped the ante by suddenly switching on the hologram of the Tony Stark AI that Tony gave to Ironheart to be her mentor. Brickman refuses to divulge how he got hold of it. The hologram doesn't know what's going on. Brickman asks if this AI is as much Stark as the embodied version? Which of them actually owns Stark Unlimited? The Tony hologram tries to interject but his flippant attitude doesn't help. Stark is granted a recess to bring his hologram, who hasn't been on since Riri Williams replaced him with NATALIE, up-to-date. The 2 Tony's meet with Rhodey to discuss what to do. AI Tony suggests they need help from people who can speak up for AIs ...

... and we see Vision and Wonder Man arriving at Avengers Mansion answering a call from Tony Stark (they believe). They expect it will be about the Hearing - Vision is an AI and Simon Williams has also experienced 'rebirth' (at least twice). They are greeted at the door by butler Edwin Jarvis, despite the fact that the Avengers don't use the Mansion anymore. (And we also know that Jarvis has retired.) Our suspicions are confirmed when 'Jarvis' sends energy globes to disrupt Vision's system and WM's ionic body.

The 2 Tony's have gone to Stark Unlimited. Tiny Wasp flies to join them, passing a mob of robots protesting their rights. (1 placard says "I dream of electric sheep".)  Human Stark bemoans the fact that he has no AI in his armour - Jocasta won't do it (again) and Friday died doing it. AI Stark now takes on the job.

Iron Man and Wasp head out for dinner, but then a figure flies into view which the robots hail as the synthezoid Vision. But the Tony's detect something's wrong, and discern that the figure is actually an amalgam of Vision and Wonder Man. Which ignores them and goes after Jan. Iron Man attacks but is severely beaten by the double-powered figure. Wasp zaps it but is batted to the ground, where she is zapped and pocketed by 'Jarvis'.

Iron Man is still failing in his struggle against Vision Man. The only plan human Tony can come up with is a super-EMP (to do what 'Jarvis' did earlier), but this will totally fry IM's system too - 'killing' AI Tony. The AI agrees it's the only option and Stark figuratively presses the button.

When he revives, which includes his own brain rebooting and reloading his memories from backup, he's aware that he's now a copy of a copy of a copy of Tony Stark. And he looks round and sees all the robot protesters that his EMP has also killed. And he realises that Jocasta was right when she said he treated AIs like data. And he also belatedly notices that Wasp has gone.

Jan awakes to find herself in 1 of those ubiquitous confinement tubes. And Jarvis is joined by his master Ultron - still half her ex-husband Henry Pym. (Marvel Fandom Wiki suggests this Jarvis is the Ultron Sentinel version from Secret Empire #3-4. Though his head didn't look at all human then.)

Juanan Ramirez
Juanan Ramirez
Edgar Delgado
Rod Reis (Cover Penciler)
Rod Reis (Cover Inker)
Rod Reis (Cover Colorist)
Letterer: Joe Caramagna.
Editor: Tom Brevoort. Editor-in-chief: C. B. Cebulski.


Listed in Alphabetical Order.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes


(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Andy Bhang, Bethany Cabe, Jocasta (Jocasta Pym), Miles Brickman (Senator Brickman), Sunset Bain (Madame Menace), Tony Stark AI.

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

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