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Tony Stark: Iron Man #18: Review

Nov 2019
Dan Slott, Paco Medina

Story Name:

The Ultron agenda part 3: The view from the inside

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tony Stark: Iron Man #18 Review by (November 23, 2019)
Christos Gage is still-co-writing this. Paco Medina gets help from Walden Wong with the inking.

This issue takes a further step in confirming Tony Stark's fear that he's no longer human with the revelation that his body is artificial and constructed by his brother Arno.

I've reconsidered the Iron future since last issue. Arno's Iron Man 2020 is only a 6-issue series so the main man may be back soon. There will be a shorter 2020 War Machine mini-series but it remains to be seen who will be wearing the armour - James Rhodes or Natasha Romanoff.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tony Stark: Iron Man #18 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The merged Ultron/Henry Pym has hatched another of his schemes, this time to turn humans into half-machines like him. As usual it's started in New York. The cyborgs have now overrun Manhattan and are grabbing people off the street and taking them to the Ultimate Makeover Spa, a front for Ultron's conversion process. At the end of last issue James Rhodes reluctantly donned his old War Machine armour again, and now he rescues a TV reporter from their clutches, backed up by the Wasp.

At the end of #16 the process fused Tony Stark with his Iron Man armour so he too is now a mixture of flesh and metal. At the end of last issue Jocasta took him to Stark Unlimited where Dr Shapiro the talking cat has managed to 'cure' some of Ultron's victims. A simple control chip was removed from Jarvis' head, and Vision has been separated from Wonder Man (Ultron merged them between #14 and #15) although neither is functioning up to scratch. Shapiro says his technique should also be able to separate the metal from Stark's flesh. Jocasta says they've got to try because the merger is killing Tony.

But she herself is suffering a similar condition because in #16 Pymtron interrupted an upgrade Arno Stark was performing on her to turn her from robot to a fleshy being. Andy Bhang takes her away to try and fix her. Wonder Man and Vision go to help fight Ultron, and Shapiro asks them to send Wasp back here. Iron Tony wants to rejoin the fight too but Jarvis and Bethany Cabe won't let him. The cat Doctor wants him to ingest 1 of the nano-Iron Men that we saw in #1.

There's a small interlude in Avengers Mansion where we see the heavily-injured Machine Man amidst bits and pieces of Ultron's cyborgs complaining that as usual he's been forgotten about.

But then it's back to War Machine and Wasp fighting the cyborgs. Rhodey is also fighting the panic attack that being back in the suit is giving him. And he's trying not to *kill* any of the foes now that they know there's a possible cure for them. But Hanktron attacks *him* accusing him of attempted genocide of the cyborg race that is a-borning. WM and Vizh arrive to attack *him* and they tell Janet Van Dyne to go help save Tony. The half of Pymtron that was her ex-husband accuses her of being unfaithful to him with Stark again, and shoots something small out of his palm to stop Tony's de-merging.

Back at SU Jocasta regains consciousness and his horrified to find she's in the robot body of the deceased AI Friday. She likens it to putting Tony's mind in the corpse of a friend. Andy says it was the only way he could save her from *her* dying body. And Jo blames herself for trying to become human.

Meanwhile Tony is remote-piloting the nano-Iron-bot inside his body. Dr Shapiro says he was able to separate the ionic energy of Wonder Man from the physical Vision. So now the nanobot must tag all the parts to be removed with ionic energy so Shapiro's procedure can work on Tony's body. (This doesn't sound like something that can easily be rolled out to all Ultron's victims.) Wasp arrives and dons a breathing helmet before she miniaturises herself and joins the bot to help with the tagging.

But then Ultron's projectile arrives and enters Stark's body. It's a nano-Ultron here to stop them from letting Tony achieve his 'perfect' cyborg state. Wasp leaves the tagging to the Tony-bot and fights Ultron. The cat suggests Tony gets his body to send antibodies to fight the foe. Wasp isn't doing very well against Ultron, but she says she's at least distracting him from fighting Wonder Man and Vision. Ulty replies that he can multitask, and we see Vision down and WM losing.

The Tony-bot attacks Pymtron and tries to get through to the Hank Pym half by saying that his cyborg state is killing him. The villain counters that Tony won't die if he stops fighting the process. Tony says he won't give up his humanity. Just then the antibodies arrive. And Stark notices that they have barcodes marking them as created by the Maria Stark Foundation.

Arno Stark is in his Baintronics lab with Sunset Bain. We see the same barcode labels on some of his equipment. He's succeeded in creating bodies containing the minds of his parents Howard and Maria Stark (whose brain patterns were encoded in the eScape VR system in early issues of this series). Sunset reminds Arno that they aren't legally persons and so have no claim on Stark's money and business (which is what matters most to her). Arno reminds her that his process created Tony's current body and so they are as (in)valid Starks as Tony is.

The revelation of his barcoded body has momentarily stunned Tony. Then he snaps out of it and tags Wasp (and presumably Ultron) with ionic energy. He tells the cat to start the separation process. Shapiro reminds him that there is still 3% untagged. Tony can only hope that's 3% of his body he can live without, and he repeats the order. The painful process starts. The 3 miniature beings are ejected from Tony's body. Mini-Ultron makes a last ditch move to pierce through Stark's skull like a bullet. But Jocasta is here and she intercepts it and crushes it between her fingers. (Presumably the mini-Ultron isn't made of adamantium.)

Then the separation process is over and Tony Stark is whole, but his armour is in bits. The still-weak hero refuses to take bed rest while (the full size) Ultron is still on the loose. He gets his friends to help him to his armoury. Most of his armours are unworkable because he has no AI to run them since Friday died. So he has to go back to an old 'manual' armour. (Looks like an armour from the latter half of his Tales Of Suspense run.)

Paco Medina
Paco Medina
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.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)

(Edwin Jarvis)
War Machine
War Machine

(James Rhodes)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Andy Bhang, Bethany Cabe, Dr Shapiro, Jocasta (Jocasta Pym), Sunset Bain (Madame Menace).

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

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