Iron Man: Building Blocks

Iron Man: Building Blocks Pt. 3

Kieron Gillen gets into the artists, characters and armor of the Secret Origin of Tony Stark!

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Iron Man #9 cover by Greg Land

By Ryan Haupt

Kieron Gillen has already shaken up the world of the Armored Avenger by sending Tony Stark to the stars in IRON MAN. Now he intends to project readers back into the past to explore the origin of everyone’s favorite super hero industrialist!

In our final installment we’ll chat about suits vs. suits, as well as the awesome art going down on the page thanks to Dale Eaglesham.

Marvel.com: At any point are you going to be writing young Tony Stark in this or is it all just going to be his parents and then just flashing forward to the modern Tony?

Kieron Gillen: We see Tony’s birth. We see Maria giving birth, but not up close. [Laughs]

Marvel.com: I wasn’t going to comment, I was just going to let you wallow in that one.

Iron Man #9 preview art by Dale Eaglesham

Kieron Gillen: A new direction for the Marvel Universe! This isn’t a three-issue story where it’s all set in the 1970’s in the Marvel Universe with Tony. This is not what we’re doing. This is a story where Tony finds [things] out and we basically get the story told to us and we see Tony dealing with it. What he finds out is enormous. In the future, as he’s involved with what he’s doing out there, he’s still processing it. So we get to see what Tony’s making of it and this leads into the story afterwards because “Godkiller” is a lead-in story to “The Secret Origin of Tony Stark.” I don’t want to give too much away. The story afterwards is where “Origin” leaves. This is a big story. The retro stuff has an enormous impact into this epic space story that Tony’s going into.

Marvel.com: Has it been hard to write an Iron Man story where you have a lot of dress suits but you don’t get any big mech or tech suits?

Iron Man #10 cover by Greg Land

Kieron Gillen: Oh, it’s been fine. Even in the three issues here which is very specifically about the story, the core of every issue is Tony in the present day doing what he’s doing. It’s one of the joys of doing the heist side, and I was talking with my wife over the weekend; we talked about heist movies extensively and how you can do a heist. What makes the heist satisfying, with the space available, with the double crosses and all that, how can you make it work? It’s very difficult but I had fun with that. I like that so much of it is immediately about Tony and about what it means to Tony. That makes it easier as well. It’s a very cheesy thing to say but I’m much more interested in the man beneath the armor.

Marvel.com: Maybe it’s a little cheesy, but it’s not bad.

Kieron Gillen: This is heading towards some very big armor. There’s more armor than anyone could possibly want in the next arc so I’m not too worried about it.

Iron Man #11 cover by Greg Land

Marvel.com: You’ve mentioned “Ocean’s Eleven” a couple of times because that’s the heist movie that happens in Vegas. What are some other heist movies that have inspired you?

Kieron Gillen: Don’t ask me that, my brain will go blank. I will say one thing about “Ocean’s Eleven” is that it became popular because it sells the idea that breaking in to a casino in Vegas is a hard thing to do. The first issue of the story is the heist, the second issue is the story of the birth, and the third issue is kind of the payback. Doing a full heist story in like eight pages—that was hard. That was really hard.

Marvel.com: How has it been working with Dale Eaglesham?

Iron Man #12 cover by Greg Land

Kieron Gillen: It’s been good! He draws whatever ridiculous craziness I ask without complaint which is the most I can ask from anybody. He’s really good at the period stuff. He made up the Stark Seven, who Howard Stark goes to [for] help with the heist. These are a mixture of old characters and new characters. The Seven are Jimmy Woo, Thunderbolt Ross—these are all younger versions of the characters. Rollo the alien. The Bear, who I see as Holly Hunter in 1960’s dress complete with big old sunglasses. And Nessa, who is the card shark. The splash page of the team is very cool. You’re talking about the joy of doing a period insert piece, you get to play with that kind of imagery. It’s a gang that looks appealing to people.

Marvel.com: Did it change your overall storytelling style to be working with two artists in one book?

Kieron Gillen: Oh yeah. It always changes you a little. With Greg [Land], I've worked with him so much that I think we understand each other's quirks pretty well. I know how to write for Greg and Greg knows how to expand on what I've done. With Dale, as I've never worked with him, I'm building a relationship from scratch. The scripts are a little heavier, as I'm giving more options and thoughts of ways a thing could go, and when I see what Dale uses or not, I get to know him better. That said, they'd be written pretty different anyway; the period piece nature of most the Dale issues would insist on that.

Iron Man #9 preview art by Dale Eaglesham

Marvel.com: Has the process of writing for two artists been easier or harder than just writing for one?

Kieron Gillen: It's more difficult, but it's also usual. Apart from YOUNG AVENGERS, it's been a long time since I've done a book for Marvel where I haven't been feeding at least two artists at once. What it really demands is knowing your structure in fine detail, so you can be writing, for example, issues 10 and 13 simultaneously and be confident that the later issue isn't going to be broken due to something you're doing in 11 and 12.

Marvel.com: Have you gotten to play at all with the juxtaposition between two styles for any big or surprising moments within the story?

Kieron Gillen: I hope so.

“The Secret Origin of Tony Stark” begins in IRON MAN #9 on May 1!

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