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By Tim Stevens
On December 10, Iron Man will die.
Before you fly into a panic, Golden Gladiator fans, know this: it happens in the alternate world of WHAT IF? FALLEN SON #1.
This alternate take on the limited series from which it draws its name swaps Captain America's death for that of his opposite number, Iron Man. As penned by Marc Sumerak with art by Trevor Goring, the one-shot unfolds over the course of the first few days following the founding Avenger's demise, delving into the psychological effects of Tony Stark's death on a Marvel Universe that has already been ravaged by the events of CIVIL WAR.
While Sumerak might be no stranger to the Marvel Universe, he has heretofore done the majority of his work on younger audience-flavored titles like the FRANKLIN RICHARDS or POWER PACK limited series. Despite the difference in tone between his previous work and FALLEN SON, the transition has proven no great hardship.
"Writing WHAT IF? FALLEN SON was definitely a change of pace for me," the writer acknowledges. "The story's somber tone and heavy subject matter were a big step away from the light-hearted, humorous tales I normally get to tell. But, it wasn't nearly as hard as you might imagine to shift those gears. It was just a matter of tapping into what I've always
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loved about these characters and trying to get that onto the page in a way that the readers could connect with it."
Therefore, despite the death of a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe equaling grim business, Sumerak sees it as offering up a plethora of creative avenues to explore.
"While there's nothing fun about any character dying, it's always interesting to wonder what could have changed," admits Sumerak. "So many major events have surrounded Tony's life of late, it's only logical to think that his death could have brought on big changes as well.
"We will be exploring almost all of the major programs that Tony was spearheading at the time of his death-the Initiative, the Superhuman Registration Act, the Mighty Avengers, Stark Enterprises and more-and showing how his death immediately impacts those institutions and all of the people involved. The reactions of some of Tony's closest friends and allies may surprise you and may change the Marvel Universe in some very profound ways."
Sumerak seeks to ensure that those changes offer rich, complex scenarios worthy of the Marvel Universe, not just pat results. WHAT IF? FALLEN SON aims to challenge readers to draw their own conclusions about what constitutes right and wrong in this alternate universe in much the same way fans have been dissecting and debating the events of the mainstream Marvel U from CIVIL WAR through WORLD WAR HULK and SECRET INVASION.
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"When writing the story, I definitely didn't set out to say, 'See? Tony was right all along! Cap's death had to happen!' Sumerak explain. "I simply wanted to explore how one simple change in the course of events could have altered the grand scheme of things. I think this story definitely shows that things would have been 'different,' but whether those differences are 'better' or 'worse' for the Marvel Universe might be a call that the readers need to make for themselves."
Much like the original FALLEN SON limited series ultimately rested on the shoulders of Iron Man, this one-shot uses Captain America as its focal point. However, the Sentinel of Liberty's grief shares the page with a multitude of familiar faces.
"Look for cast members from Mighty Avengers, New Avengers and the Initiative, as well as a number of other special guests," Sumerak teases.
Fans can enter a new era alongside Cap, the Mighty Avengers, and the rest of the Marvel Universe on December 10 by picking up WHAT IF? FALLEN SON #1, when it hits shelves. And check out the original FALLEN SON limited series on Marvel Digital Comics Unlimited.
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