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Iron Man: Building Blocks

Iron Man: Building Blocks Pt. 2

Kieron Gillen traces the beginnings of Tony Stark to his parents and gets set to introduce iconic aliens to Marvel!

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!

Iron Man #9 cover by Greg Land

How does Tony compare to his parents? What mysteries lie out in the in the Nevada desert? And just how do the iconic “Grey aliens” fit into Marvel Universe? Kieron sat down with us to tell us a little bit about what he has planned for the upcoming “Secret Origin of Tony Stark.”

Marvel.com: How would you contrast Howard Stark to his son Tony? People love Tony Stark as much for his vices and his problems as they do for his heroics. Does Howard fit that mold or is he an entirely different kind of person?

Kieron Gillen: The main interest in this for me is that you get to see Howard and compare him to Tony. You see bits of Howard that let you see where Tony got it from. He’s drinking all the time. He’s clearly got a problem with alcohol and substance. It’s like the “Mad Men” aspect. It’s embedded in society and culture which kind of condones and celebrates that. Anytime you see Howard with a drink, we’re going to be thinking about Tony. For me, it’s less about the compare and contrast and more about the lineage. There’s definitely bits that you see the drive, and what Howard does to achieve his ends.

Iron Man #9 preview art by Dale Eaglesham

Marvel.com: Is it the same for his mom? Are we going to see things in her that follow through in Tony that make him a different person than his father?

Kieron Gillen: Yes. I would hope so. She’s a little more ethical than Howard. There’s a lot of good things that Tony gets from Howard but I think some of the things that make Tony a hero, he gets from Maria. That’s my feeling anyway. It’s hard to define what he gets from each parent.

Marvel.com: I think it’s hard any time two people have a kid to assign traits from each parent. It’s still interesting to think about.

Kieron Gillen: I basically wanted to match the two great myths of Nevada together; this is the story about Las Vegas and Area 51. These are the two great myths of Nevada. That’s what the story is about. You’ll see it with all the colors, you’ve got this kind of retro stuff. I introduce, basically, a Marvel version of the Greys [the iconic aliens associated with Area 51]. They’re very, very, different than any version of the Greys that anyone has anyone seen.

Iron Man #10 cover by Greg Land

Marvel.com: I’m really surprised that Area 51 hasn’t been used in Marvel comics already.

Kieron Gillen: Yeah. Me too. I’m mashing the myths together. You’ll see that there’s a casino the comic called Area 52. That’s where a lot of the action takes place. Area 52 because of 52 cards.

Marvel.com: I didn’t even make that connection. The reason that it’s Area 51 is because the area was divided into quadrants for mining and each was assigned a number. They just happened to build a base in the pre-established Area 51. So there is an actual Area 52 right next to it, it’s just not as interesting.

Kieron Gillen: Or is it? [Laughs]

Marvel.com: Exactly. If the government was really smart, they’d put the fake base in Area 51 and put the real base underground right next door.

Kieron Gillen: It surprised me, I can’t really think of any Vegas stories playing with that kind of myth. I’m certain there is, I’m sure there will be those that say “Gillen’s ripping off this.”

It’s less about Area 51 and more about the idea of the alien visitations.

Marvel.com: So in your opinion, Iron Man is one of the elder statesmen in the super hero fraternity?

Iron Man #11 cover by Greg Land

Kieron Gillen: Yeah, he’s in the 30’s but I’d rather not say he’s older. He had a career before he became Iron Man. Yeah, he was running the company young and he became Iron Man young. But he had a full career being a weapons monger before becoming Iron Man.

I’ve talked a lot about Area 51 meets Las Vegas, it’s “X-Files” meets “Ocean’s Eleven.” The fact that we’re doing Vegas, we have a lot of suits. [The Grey aliens] secretly run the casino. That’s the Area 52. The great image is that you can’t see who they are. Even if they take you up, who’s going to believe it? It’s Vegas. [Laughs]

Marvel.com: That’s a really good point.

Kieron Gillen: It’s really about the heist, the caper, and the reasons behind what’s really going on there. That’s kind of what the story is about.

Check back tomorrow for the conclusion of our chat with Kieron! “The Secret Origin of Tony Stark” begins in IRON MAN #9 on May 1!

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