Last week’s Iron Man relaunch from Christopher Cantwell, Cafu, Frank D’Armata, and Joe Caramagna has some interesting ideas for the Iron Avenger. Finding himself in one of those patented mid-life crises of his, Tony has divested himself from his businesses, pulled away from his Malibu mansion highlife, and found himself in New York City trying to figure out who the man behind Iron Man is.
He bought a car and everything. Truly, just having a moment.
It’s not the first time Tony has done this kind of thing, of course, but what makes Iron Man #1's exploration of it intriguing is how much it just repeatedly calls him on his bullshit for it. In an interview after removing himself from the board of Stark Unlimited, he’s railed for creating a cataclysmic stock market swing by re-investing a third of his 65 billion dollar exit package into his portfolio. When he says he’s getting back to his roots, he’s called out for the fact that his roots were as an arms seller. He’s mocked for trying to be a new-age-y seen-the-light guy trying to move away from technology when he’s literally Iron Man.
They’re all little moments that come together to recenter Tony as not just kind of a hypocritical douchebag—he’s Tony Stark, after all—but also a man who really, at this point, has no idea why he’s doing what he’s doing any more. He’s made himself a new suit of armor, that looks just like his classic design (designed by Alex Ross, Marvel’s master of “Hey, remember the Silver Age of Comics?”). But how can Iron Man be Iron Man if Iron Man is no longer really about the man beneath the mask, but the specter of the reputation that man has built over decades?
All that’s well and good, but the funnest part of Iron Man #1's Stark shakeup is actually the bit where Tony gets owned clean off of social media. Throughout the issue as Tony seeks to almost publicly flagellate himself for his commitment to finding himself are tiny little snippets of the Marvel world’s social media response to his exploits. They’re mostly through faux-Twitter—where of course, as they would be in our world, Tony Stark’s mentions are just absolutely miserable, every tweet ratio’d to all hell.
Tweeting about taking out Terrax the Tamer, onetime herald of Galactus? People complain that he took out their TV satellite in the process. Facile Jon Muir quotes or asking if he’s New York enough yet? People mock him for his hypocrisy. Perhaps the most beautiful moment comes when, after battling Z-tier villain Unicorn (and accidentally destroying a Gutenberg Bible in the process), Tony’s mentions are so bad—Fat Tony meme included, you love to see it—he makes what is maybe the only smart decision he makes this entire issue:
Inspiring, really. Would that we were all so brave.
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