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Tony Stark: Iron Man #5: Review

Oct 2018
Dan Slott, Max Dunbar

Story Name:

Self-made man: Part 5 - 20/20 vision

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tony Stark: Iron Man #5 Review by (November 1, 2018)
This issue is all Arno Stark and no Tony Stark or other chars from this series apart from Sunset Bain.

It happens to mention that Stark Unlimited includes subcompanies retaining the old names Stark International, Stark Resilient and Stark Solutions. And reminds us that the Maria Stark Foundation is independent of all that, and adds that it does much more charitable work than just fund the Avengers.

In the Secret Origin Of Tony Stark in the 2013 Iron Man series Tony discovered that he was adopted by Howard and Maria Stark, and that their real son Arno was confined to an iron lung. Genetic manipulation in the womb by an alien AI had made Arno a genius. But for reasons too complicated to go into here the Stark's had to keep his existence secret. However as mentioned this issue Arno watched the exploits of his 'brother' from his hospital bed.

The brothers met, and later in the series Arno modified his iron lung into a mobile suit of armour, and even later into a slim exoskeleton. In IM#597-600 he appeared with no visible support. So he's used his genius to either cure himself or reduce his exoskeleton to something he can wear under his clothes. Enquiring minds want to know.

In the International IM series Tony located his birth mother Amanda Armstrong, a supporting character in this series.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tony Stark: Iron Man #5 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
The Maria Stark Foundation staff eagerly await the arrival of Mr Stark - but it's Arno Stark not Tony. He's here to perform a medical operation attaching a donor's arm to violinist Jayden Ong. And Arno's radical procedure means that the arm is ready for use immediately rather than needing months of therapy.

Ong is originally disconcerted that the arm is obviously a different colour to the rest of him, but Stark points out that everything else about it is perfectly suited to his requirements. Arno hands Jayden his violin and the virtuoso is able to play with all his usual skill. Arno records the performance of Guiseppe Tartini's Devil's Trill Sonata, an extremely difficult piece.

He emails a copy to his brother Tony and tells him about the operation. He mentions that the donor was a pastry chef who died in a car accident. And he also mentions his next stop ...

... which is to wander through a field of wheat growing in the Sahara, a new strain developed by himself. This is a test site but the owners are eager to plant more.

Arno's emailing continues through the issue, making it seem like 1 long message referring to all the things he is doing at the time, which is an unlikely way to write an email. It also suggest that he has the inspiration to do things and then executes them immediately. But the main thrust of this issue is that he's a multi-talented genius like Tony (and issues in previous series have said that he's even cleverer than his brother).

Anyway the next thing is releasing designer bacteria into a Scottish loch to (instantaneously!) eat all the garbage that people have thrown in, without damaging the ecosystem. But he tells the local Maria Stark people that he doesn't want to have to keep doing this or the bacteria will become invasive, so it's up to the locals to *keep* the loch clean.

Arno gets loads of messages requesting his help but most he rejects as boring. He accepts a call from a Texas cattle rancher Wayne Butterfield who has genetically engineered a herd with no brains, which therefore can be eaten guilt-free because they feel no pain. But some of the bulls have been going mad.

(Douglas Adams' solution was the reverse of this - intelligent cows that can tell you that they like to be killed and eaten.)

Arno goes to visit the ranch where he sees the cattle with no bulge of braincase, but still (not contentedly) chewing grass. To illustrate the problem a bull suddenly goes berserk. Butterfield says they get 1 such mutation per litter. The handlers taser it to death.

Stark asks to see the whole process. The cattle are cloned in batches and grown in artificial wombs. We see 1 being 'born', and Arno notes that it has the reflexes to immediately stand up. Then he uses his X-ray specs to study the dead bull, and asks the rancher why he lied. Butterfield admits that the bulls do have tiny brains to control their natural functions. And they also have a microchip to help.

Stark quickly creates a gas which will keep the animals docile for a while without affecting any more-sentient beings and without affecting the meat. But it's only a temporary fix until he can come up with the real solution. Which eludes him because he thinks he's missing some part of the puzzle. Butterfield suggests he sleep on it, but Arno says he's modified himself so he doesn't need sleep.

Arno starts running over the facts. The cattle prods work on bulls so their bodies feel the pain even if they supposedly have no consciousness to process it. He learns that the computer chips are all connected to the ranch's wi-fi system so the ranchers can track the cattle. Butterfield and his men are tucking into steaks, which he discovers were prepared for the meal at about the time the bull went mad. And suddenly he realises what's been happening.

At the same time the whole herd stampede into the building and start trampling the cowboys. Arno explains that the interconnected microchips have created a gestalt consciousness in the herd as a whole. So his tranquillising gas won't work. And now the herd is seeking revenge on the meat-eaters.

Butterfield desperately asks Stark to do something. Arno says he has an idea how to survive. He goes all Zen to make himself appear a mindless part of the herd. It works, but of course that's no consolation to Butterfield.

Arno saw a similarity between the herd and himself. He was genetically modified before birth, was trapped in the pen of an iron lung, and his mind was trapped in his useless body. Meanwhile the prize stud Tony roamed free.

Pondering this uncharacteristic failure he goes to seek help ... from Sunset Bain. Baintronics come in to tidy up the mess, but Arno won't let them kill the cattle. He tells Sunset that he called *her* rather than his brother because he admires the way she's successfully taken Tony on in the last few issues (not quite the way I'd see it). Ms Bain makes part of her payment a dinner with Arno.

Before he goes on that date he catches up with his other projects. The Scottish ecologists say they're spearheading green initiatives throughout the county. In the Sahara they've planted more wheat fields but they're all failing. Arno says it's because there isn't enough moisture in the area to support more than the 1 field. The violinist Ong says his new hand is doing things of its own accord, writing messages on his sheet music like "Why did you do this to me?". Arno tells him that the arm came from someone killed in the same accident where Ong lost *his* arm - Ong ran into her car while texting while driving. (This makes it all the more remarkable that the arm was *exactly* suitable.) Arno's only advice is to keep the arm busy by playing his instrument ...

... and he plays the Devil's Trill Sonata recording at dinner with Sunset. And we seem to witness a business merger between 2 of Tony's rivals. (The cover and solicitation blurb make that seem even more ominous.)

Max Dunbar
Gang-Hyuk Lim
Dono Sanchez Almara
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.

Plus: Sunset Bain (Madame Menace).

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

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