Iron Man has had all manner of crazy adventures over his time in the 616 Marvel Comics Universe, but now the company has decided they’re taking him in the strangest direction yet. This week, Avengers #31 revealed the bombshell that Tony Stark’s father was not Howard Stark after all. No, Tony’s father is actually… the devil! And, even worse, Tony Stark himself is…the Antichrist! *cue The Omen music*
The revelation came when Stark was investigating the mysterious appearance of a million-year-old Iron Man helmet. This soon spirals into a time travel adventure, where Tony teams up with a talking snake, who’s actually Mephisto, the Marvel Universe’s devil. The talking snake reveals to the hero that Howard Stark made a deal with him: if Howard was to become the most intelligent man on the planet, he would give his son to the devil.
Once Stark is back in the present day, he encounters Mephisto and (what appears to be) his resurrected father in Las Vegas, but refuses to be a part of their evil schemes, telling them to “kiss his iron ass.” And that’s just about where we leave it.
Tony Stark is actually a pretty good fit for an Antichrist, being a charismatic world leader with immense influence over global geopolitics. Presumably, the upcoming arc will see him wrestling with his new destiny, trying to figure out if his past actions have been influenced by the devil being his father and seeing how his fellow Avengers react to the news. Plus, despite being a technologically-inclined hero, he’s visited hell on more than one occasion (I think most recently in 2008’s “Legacy of Doom”). But is all this diabolical meddling a good fit for an Iron Man story? Well, the jury is very firmly out on that one.
Longtime fans will recall the 2007 Spider-Man arc “One More Day.” This saw Peter Parker being offered a deal by Mephisto to resurrect Aunt May, at the cost of his marriage to Mary Jane Watson. That effectively broke the pair up, as well as erasing the world’s memories of Spider-Man, soft resetting the continuity in the process. So, how did Mephisto’s meddling go down with Spidey fans? Well, “One More Day” is generally considered the worst Spider-Man comic of all time, generated a tonne of ill-will towards Marvel and quickly cratered sales.
Let’s hope that Mephisto’s meddling with Iron Man‘s life goes down a bit better.