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Tony Stark: Iron Man #7: Review

Jan 2019
Dan Slott, Valerio Schiti

Story Name:

Stark realities: Part 2 - Out of control

Review & Comments

4 stars

Tony Stark: Iron Man #7 Review by (January 4, 2019)
The Christmas/New Year issue covers continue to have a black band for Stan Lee's death, accompanied by the additional inside pages.

Jeremy Whitley is again helping Dan Slott with the scripting.

It was revealed in Avengers Annual #9 that Howard Stark programmed the original Arsenal robots to obey a controlling computer/AI called Mistress with the persona of his wife Maria. How this has been translated into the Stark Unlimited eScape system is as yet unknown.

Machine Man's mecha-activism goes back quite a long way to the Nextwave series and continued through his stint in SHIELD's Lightning Storm team and into Marvel Zombies vol 3. Then he dropped this stance in MZombies vol 5 and later, but it's resurfaced for the current series.


Synopsis / Summary / Plot

Tony Stark: Iron Man #7 Synopsis by Rob Johnson
Last issue Tony Stark put his ultra-VR system eScape on general release. But almost immediately loads of disruptive players were thrown out by the admin enforcer program Arsenal (its avatar based on a sophisticated robot invented by Tony's (now-dead) adoptive father Howard Stark). Tony entered the system to find out what was happening, followed by his birth-mother Amanda Armstrong who was tired of him avoiding her. But when she started arguing with him Arsenal took offence. And when Stark tried to stop it the program attacked them both.

Meanwhile Tony's foe Controller showed 1 of the ejected players a backdoor into the system, and this issue opens with him simultaneously making the same offer to all the other ejectees.

Tony's avatar is fighting Arsenal in an old VR-Iron Man armour while he contacts the Motherboard AI that runs the system. But the AI refuses to switch Arsenal off until Tony says "Please", which was not supposed to be in its programming. Then his mother's avatar derezzes and he ends his session to return to reality where his staff tell him that she's collapsed and they can't wake her.

*We* see Amanda awake lying on a floor still in her youthful avatar surrounded by little robots who are worried about her. (1 of them suggests she has a faulty self-righting mechanism as in Battlebots/Robot Wars). Then Arsenal enters the room and the little guys call him daddy. It questions her right to be here but then recognises she has guest permissions. And then opens up and Howard Stark walks out.

Howard wants to know who she is and how she got to the Home setting. He was expecting Tony's mother (not someone who appears much younger than Tony). A voice he calls Mistress (presumably Motherboard) explains that this young-looking avatar really *is* Amanda Armstrong, adopted Tony's biological mother. And then she manifests as Maria Stark, Howard's (dead) wife and Tony's adoptive mother.

Back in reality Bethany Cabe and Andy Bhang don't know what to do about Amanda. Tony gets robot Jocasta Pym to scan her, reporting that she's running normally. She thinks pulling Amanda out of eScape might be a bad move, but admits that she's running on low charge (she forgot to recharge last issue/night) and her judgement might be not up to par. A disagreement breaks out among the staff. Some are worried this might happen to lots of users and think they should shut the system down. Others are more worried about the effect of that on Stark Unlimited's reputation. Stark decides to keep his mother inside but tells all the other users to save their position and quit before the system closes.

Amazingly quickly the system is emptied. But then all the original ejected user accounts spring back to life. And Controller contacts Stark Unlimited's control room to tell Tony what he's done. These users won't go quietly, and removing them by force will damage their minds. (Presumably their backdoor access permissions mean they can't be safely ejected like before.) So now Stark must do whatever Controller wants.

But Tony was ready for this. (As he explains to Bethany later he's known that Basil Sandhurst was up to something since he spotted that Fin Fang Foom (in #1) wore 1 of his control discs.) He  pushes a button (labelled Big Red Mess Up The Controller's Plans Button) which locates the source of Controller's transmission.

Tony contacts SU's super-team Wasp (Jan Van Dyne) and James Rhodes in his Manticore vehicle and tells them where to meet him. He tells Beth to take Amanda to the Infirmary and look after her. And he leaves Andy Bhang in charge, as the only person who joined SU after Controller started his plotting and therefore the only 1 he can be sure isn't under Sandhurst's control. He also asks Jocasta to find her recently-ex (#3) boyfriend Machine Man and get him to use his illegal eScape interface to sneak into the system. And everyone else should work on getting Amanda and all the others out of the system safely.

1 last thing before he jets off. After Jocasta has left he asks his ex-AI Friday Stark to abandon her new robot body and temporarily replace the suspect Motherboard as the AI in his armour. Friday is reluctant and Andy protests that Chief Robotic Ethicist Jocasta wouldn't have allowed it if Tony hadn't waited until she'd gone. But Friday agrees to do it.

Jocasta finds Machine Man in the Uncanny Valley secret bar for robots. He's pouring his soul out to the bar-robot over missing Jocasta. When she greets him Aaron Stack thinks she's come back to him. But the militant mecha-activist is angry when he finds out she only wants him to help the 'meatbags' trapped in eScape. As Jo pleads with him to be the heroic Avenger he used to be she collapses from lack of power.

Iron Man rendezvouses with Wasp and Rhodey over the new Baintronics factory in Cranbury, New Jersey which can 3D-print anything you order and deliver it to your door via robot drone. Tony is jealous that *he* didn't think of it. Jim uses Manticore's scanner to detect that all the packages currently flying out by drone contain weapons. Controller reveals to them that he's behind this. And we see a box containing a pair of super 6-guns delivered to a man who is in eScape as a cowboy. The idea is that Controller's eScape troops have been given whatever their avatars desire in the real world as well as VR. Now whatever they do in the game will happen in real life too.

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.

Iron Man
Iron Man

(Tony Stark)
James Rhodes
James Rhodes


(Jocasta Pym)

(Janet Van Dyne)

Plus: Amanda Armstrong, Andy Bhang, Bethany Cabe, Controller (Basil Sandhurst), Friday (Friday Stark), Motherboard.

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

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