By Jim Beard
The next major phase of Tony Stark’s mission begins this November in “Iron Metropolitan,” a new IRON MAN story arc from current series writer Kieron Gillen and incoming artist Joe Bennett. Stark’s bound for glory with new locales, new dangers, and a new direction.
“By the time we reach the end of IRON MAN #17, Tony's reeling,” Gillen says. “Hell, Tony's reeling now. Basically, [‘Iron Metropolitan’] builds on everything he's learned, everything he's gained, everything. He went into space to get new ideas for new approaches. And you know what? It worked. Be careful what you wish for, etc, etc.
“This is both an arc in itself, and a launch for how my villains are going to work across my whole second ‘year.’ The first year was basically from IRON MAN #1-17, and can be basically described as ‘The Origin of Tony Stark.’ And I'll say this: [the story is] set in Mandarin City. It'll be strange if I didn't do something with that.”
The writer’s quick to stress that his comment doesn’t mean he’s bringing the Mandarin back, but regardless, he’s enthused about the direction he’ll be taking.
|Iron Metropolitan by Paul Rivoche|
“This is a fun one,” he insists. “I think people will like it. It's one of the times where my taste for big, big theoretical stuff which is meant to be read deeply is working hand in hand with my taste for enormous big pulp craziness.
“While we do a little bit of globe-trotting, the setting is primarily the remains of Mandarin City. That's—as the name suggests—the Mandarin's domain which was brought down at the end of Matt [Fraction's] run. What better place to build a new model city than on the ruins of his greatest enemy? It helps that the place is pretty much feral, due to all manner of international problems. Surely Tony can't make it worse?”
To Gillen’s way of thinking, the character of Tony Stark’s still fertile ground for further research and development, and that’s part of what “Iron Metropolitan” will be all about.
“He's a man with a new dream he wants to share with the world,” notes the writer of his protagonist. “He's a man who's just had his entire conception of himself overturned. He's trying to deal with that in the best Tony Stark fashion: by ignoring it, and channeling that energy into something else. It's either that or open a bottle.
“Tony comes back from space with secrets. Some people he shares them with. Some people he doesn't. That's inevitably going to strain, and that's going onwards.”
When asked if Iron Man will sport new armor in the storyline, Gillen tries hard to remain neutral in his answers, not wanting to offer spoilers just yet.
“The arc was inspired by a quote by British designer Matt Jones: ‘A city is a battlesuit for surviving the future,’” he says, cryptically. “This is what happens when the world's foremost designer of battlesuits designs a city.“So yes, lots of tech. Mostly not for Tony, but lots of tech.”
Assisting Gillen with delivering that tech and a whole lot more in “Iron Metropolitan” will be artist Joe Bennett, who the writer describes as a “really imaginative storyteller.”
“Joe's very good at grasping a story's sensibility,” he explains. “We worked on the A+X story about Sinister and Loki, and he really brought the gothic horror nature to the fore. Here, he brings the tech-utopianism-with-sad-tinged-edge forward. He gets both the magnificent visions of a better world and utter squalor. He also draws a mean Iron Man.”