I've lost you all already, haven't I?
...okay, I was reading a glossy periodical about superhero comics, which featured a special
But what is an Avengers comic without a line-up of powerful iconic heroes mixed in with a handful of second-stringer fan favorites? Nothin', I tell you! Nothin'! And in the tradition of Cap's Kooky Quartet and that team where the Beast and Moondragon were the heavy hitters, the membership is made up of heroes likely to both please and cause severe shrugging across this land. When the call goes out for "Mighty Avengers Mightily Assemble!", answering the call will be the line-up of Ms. Marvel, Sentry, Wasp (yay!), Black Widow, Ares, Wonder Man (double yay!) and Iron Man.
One of these members surprised the stuffin' out of me. No, it's not Ares.
Says me: "What the Sam Scratch is Iron Man doin' on this team?"
Don't get me wrong. I'm a long-time Iron Fan. I was there for the dopey days when the Mandarin had a "M" on his chest. I remember the name of Tony Stark's yacht (Throatwarbler Mangrove). I read along when Tony was soused in rich, buttery, Kentucky bourbon, so fully proofed you could scratch and sniff the alcohol on the comics page. I read "Spores," for Pete's sake. But there's never been a darker time for our pal Tony than right now.
Okay, okay. "The Crossing" and Teen Tony. I was blanking it out of my mind, okay? But aside from that, there's never been a darker time for Tony than right nowhis manipulations and machinations have pitted hero against hero, torn teams apart, forced friends to become enemies, and shuffled a publishing schedule so dramatically that there weren't even any Marvel comics in the stores this week when I walked in with my sackful of dimes. In other words, the more Civil War goes on, the more likely it looks that Tony Stark is moving beyond redemption, that he's going to take a major fall, that his oddly out-of-character but nevertheless current canon puppeteer status is going to bring him down low, preferably under the heel of a red boot with a metal shield pressed against his neck.
In other words, I don't see how Tony can continue to be a hero in the Marvel Universe for at least a while following Civil War. The interview with Brian Michael "Um...you know?" Bendis that accompanies the Wizard preview hints at that as well:
"Who says Tony lives after Civil War? Who says he hasn't bequeathed his armor to a new generation of hero? Who says it's not Cap in the armor?"Interesting thought. Possibly misleading. But I don't think that's Tony. I don't think that's Cap. So who's behind the iron mask in Mighty Avengers? Let's take a look at the very little evidence we have so far. He's a bit of a wise-cracker:
Not so much a madcap jokester, by any means. But that exchange suggests a lighter, more jokey Iron Man. Someone who's used to joking during battle? Non sequiturs galore? Perhaps toning it down a little bit from the usual trademark tomfoolery? Hmmm. How about this:
New powers? Well, I'm not as up on recent Iron Man storylines as I should be, but certainly the repulsor ray technology is as ancient as Happy Hogan, and "full form" repulsor ray technology is something I think I've definitely seen before. So is it really new to Iron Man? I don't think so. But...might it be new to this Iron Man?
I'm going to guess now, and we won't find out for months, but you can bookmark this blog entry and check back in February 2007 to see if I'm anywhere close, or if you can laugh at me for being so gullible. Because I think that's a new hero in the Iron Man armor. I think we've seen this hero before, but not as Iron Man.
This isn't a spoiler warning, 'coz I'm just guessing. But stop reading now if you don't wanna see any guesses about this storyline.
... I think the new Iron Man is Peter Parker.
Here's what I think will happen at the end of Civil War: Tony Stark will be disgraced or in exile (I hope not dead!). He'll be either in hiding or on the run for a while. And Peter Parker, who recently gave up his secret identity, needs one. He knows how to work, move, and fight in Stark armor now. Whatever his feelings towards Tony at the end of the storyline, Stark has been a mentor, confidant and friend: the father figure Peter hasn't had since the death of Uncle Ben. I believe that however Civil War shakes out, Peter is going to feel he owes a debt to Tony Stark. And he will replace that by donning the red-and-gold, by redeeming the name of the Iron Avenger. He's a bit inexperienced at the power and intense strength of the armor, so it's a learning curve for him. Since he's keeping his ID as Iron Man secret (to protect the hopefully still-around Mary Jane and May), he's going to have to ramp down the wisecracks during battles. Despite his increased strength, he's more dependent on his teammates to aid him than ever before. What does this mean for the Spider-Man titles, you ask? My guess is...almost nothing. I don't think Marvel will try to replace Peter as Spider-Man. ("Again.") After Civil War, in my scenario, Pete's still Spider-Man too. Plenty of room to appear in umpteen Spidey titles monthly and still star in Mighty Avengers and Iron Man (if there is an Iron Man series after this). He's going to have to divide his life between the publicly known Spidey and the secret new Iron Man. And let's face it, doesn't the more complicated Peter Parker's life get, the more intriguing his adventures become?
I dunno. This is all an early guess based on a couple panels in a tiny preview. Next month we might see a preview of a post-Civil War cover featuring Spidey and Irony together. But until I've been proven wrong, I think it's an interesting and dramatic twist thatif it's only a finite storyline with a definite end in eventual sightcould be kinda fun. I've got some quibbles with Civil War but I'm actually enjoying the "Spider-Man: Unmasked" storylines and how Peter and Tony's friendship have led to this point. A little shake-up is good for what ails ya, and as I think history is proven, the toys don't necessarily need to be back in place by the time of next summer's movie, do they? (They never have yet, have they?)
But what do I know? I thought Monarch was Captain Atom.
Meet me back here in five or so months and let's find out, shall we?
(singing to myself as I wander away: "Iron Man, Iron Man, does whatever an Iron can...")