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Quote1 I am Arsenal, the living weapon! Where one offensive fails, I can call forth countless others! Quote2
-- Arsenal Beta src
 

During the Cold War, the United States government commissioned Howard Stark to build a doomsday weapon only to be activated should the U.S.S.R. invade America.[2] As part of Project Tomorrow, Stark developed a prototype weaponry system named Arsenal[3] of which there were two units: Arsenal Beta and Arsenal Alpha. Both units' programs consisted of executing a plan called "Scorched Earth" in case of foreign occupation; the destruction of the critical infraestructure of New York and surrounding areas.[2]

Arsenal Beta's neural processors were based on Howard's own engrams, and the robot was complemented by a sophisticated guidance A.I. system named Mistress, which was based on the engrams of Stark's wife Maria.[3] Once the Cold War wound down, the Arsenal units were deemed too dangerous and they were stored beneath the Stark Mansion in Central Park.[4] Arsenal Alpha was kept in a shaft next to an underground submarine pen outside the footprint of the building's foundation, while Arsenal Beta was stored in a secret lab right beneath the building. Due to the nature of the robots, their existence became a secret matter of national security.[2]

Arsenal Beta (Earth-616) from Iron Man Vol 1 114 001

Arsenal awakening

Both Arsenal units remained dormant for decades, a time during which both Howard and Maria died. The Stark Mansion was inherited by their adoptive son Tony, who turned it into the headquarters of the premier superhero team the Avengers shortly after becoming a superhero himself, Iron Man. Arsenal Beta was unwittingly activated by the Titanium Man, an enemy of Iron Man who was using a high-frequency radio pulse signal to send the Unicorn on a mindless attack on Avengers Mansion. The Unicorn's rampage caused him to shear and fall through several levels of the building until he reached Arsenal's storage. The robot was awakened by Titanium Man's errant signal and, without any updated programming, went to an immediate-situation response that made him attack anybody who approached him. The Avengers followed Unicorn's trail and were all defeated by Arsenal save for Iron Man, who forced Arsenal's retreat after dealing heavy damage to his body.[5]

Arsenal returned to his hidden chamber beneath the Mansion and was repaired by Mistress. Confused by the state of the world after awekening as well as the Mansion's super-powered inhabitants whom she believed to be communist agents, Mistress had Arsenal abduct the Avengers Hawkeye and Beast to probe their memories. The rest of the Avengers learned of Arsenal's origin and confronted him to rescue their teammates. When Iron Man entered Arsenal's chamber, he recognized his mother's voice and appearance in Mistress. Revealing himself as her "son," Tony convinced Mistress that the Avengers were no enemies. He also informed her of Howard's passing, but the sorrow led her to try to erase her own programming and destroy her hardware. As a result, Arsenal was commanded to detonate.[3] The explosion appeared to destroy Arsenal, but he instead plunged further below into a subterranean stream, where he repaired himself the best he could until he felt strong enough to return to the surface and desperately seek to reconnect with Mistress. On his rampage, the blinded and cripped Arsenal crossed paths with Hulk and She-Hulk, and was mangled by the former.[6]

Arsenal's remains were stored by Hank Pym, and many years the robot was rebuilt and reprogrammed by Jocasta under the advice of Quicksilver to test the students of the Avengers Academy. Since he had been reprogrammed to use non-lethal weapons, he was easily defeated by Hazmat folowing Finesse's orders.[7]

Arsenal Beta (Earth-616) and Mistress (Earth-616) from Tony Stark Iron Man Vol 1 10 001

Arsenal and Mistress as Howard and Maria Stark inside eScape

The robot's program was retrieved by Tony Stark and placed together with that of Mistress, whom Tony had salvaged after her self-destruction attempt, into the eScape, a virtual reality of his creation. He intended to explore the line between humans and virtual life forms after he began to doubt his own humanity since he had used his own engrams to reupload his mind into a new body to escape death.[8]

As Motherboard, Mistress ran the eScape's systems. Once the eScape went live and became a consumer product, Arsenal became the eScape's enforcement program, responsible for banning problematic users that didn't abide to the terms of service.[9] Motherboard's operative systems were damaged when the supervillain the Controller hacked into the eScape network,[10] causing her to send Arsenal after every user, resulting in the booting of thousands of users from the system every minute. When Tony entered the eScape to investigate the anomaly, his biological mother Amanda Armstrong followed him.[9] Arsenal attacked Amanda and sent her to a secret section of the virtual world called the Home Setting, where she was confronted by Motherboard who took Maria Stark's appearance, while Arsenal took Howard's.[1]

Motherboard later forced Tony into the eScape, brainwashing him to return to his carefree self so he could indulge himself inside the virtual world, all part of Motherboard's twisted attempt at protecting Tony.[11] Stark's ally Machine Man infiltrated the eScape to rescue Amanda and save Tony. Howard eventually detected Machine Man's presence and turned back into Arsenal to destroy his virtual avatar.[10] When Tony broke free from Motherboard's influence, he erased Arsenal's program from the eScape.[12]

Powers

Robot Body: Arsenal Beta possesses an extremely strong and durable body which allows him to effortlessly deal powerful blows capable of knocking back Iron Man, Wonder Man,[5] She-Hulk and Hulk. Even in a crippled state, Arsenal could trade blows with the Hulk and took several punches before being ultimately shattered. Arsenal's body is also capable of repairing itself, though much less effectively than Mistress can.[6] When Arsenal confronted the Avengers, only Thor, Iron Man and Scarlet Witch managed to hurt him.[3]

Computer Systems: Arsenal is a sentient artificial intelligence with the ability to analyze and react to almost any foe.[7] Arsenal's radars and early-detection systems allow him to track moving targets and perceive enemies that try to outflank him.[5] These radars can compensate for when he's blind.[6] Arsenal possesses an strategic mind, launching sneak attacks to defeat powerful enemies, luring targets to take them down, and taking advantage of combat situations to restrain his opponents.[3]

Weapons Systems: Arsenal is equipped with multiple weapons of different kinds including an electrified force field, retractable shoulder-mounted cannons, an ice blaster, a vacuum / air-blower unit in his palm, a head-mounted flashbang,[5] a photoelectric force-fence capable of disrupting the Vision's phasing,[3] high-density laser eye-beams, and piercing darts capable of hurting the Hulk's skin.[6] Arsenal's most powerful weapon is a retractable chest-mounted cannon that fires an electro-stun-field,[6] Arsenal's mouth possesses a dispenser for knock-out[5] and lethal gases.[6]




  • When Arsenal's origin was first revealed in Avengers Annual #9, his creation was set during World War II. Due to the sliding timescale the Marvel Universe operates in, his origins were updated in Iron Man Vol 3 #84, and Arsenal became a creation of the Cold War. Arsenal's profile in All-New Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe #1 additionally adjusts some details of Arsenal's encounter with the Avengers from Avengers Annual #9, establishing that Mistress mistook the Avengers for Soviet agents and not Axis operatives as the issue illustrated.
  • In Arsenal's initial origin, he was created in late 1944 and was kept dormant until the early days of the Cold War, when President Truman demonstrated the robot's abilities to a congressional committee. Howard Stark stepped in and advised Truman against using Arsenal during peacetime, resulting in the robot's re-storage.[3]

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