- Right now, our leader, Mark One, is fighting for all of us against the worst robot oppressor of all -- Arno Stark, the Iron Man! And Mark isn't even a machine! He's a flesh A.I.! If he'd lay down his life against our enslavement, can robot-kind do any less? This is the final conflict, my byte-brothers! The day we prove we're alive... by fighting to the death!
- -- Machinesmith
Appearing in 1st story
- Mark One (Tony Stark) (Apparent death)
- A.I. Army
- Awesome Andy
- Machinesmith (Samuel Saxon) (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only)
- Robots from across New York City (Joins team)
- Unnamed animatronic mascot (First appearance)
- Unnamed room-bot (First appearance)
- Numerous unidentified others (First appearance)
- Nick Fury LMD
- Quasimodo (Corpse)
- Nick Fury LMD (Remnants)
- Baintronics, Inc.
- "Ghost in the Machine" (Mentioned)
- "Howard Stark" (Arsenal) (Main story and recap) (As Arsenal in recap only)
- "Maria Stark" (Mistress) (Main story and recap) (As Motherboard in recap only)
- Howard Stark (Mentioned) (Deceased)
- Maria Stark (Mentioned) (Deceased)
- Friday (Mentioned) (Deceased)
- Alkhema (On-screen)
- DK35-M (Corpse on-screen)
- JB12-X (On-screen)
- TY41-B (On-screen)
- Opus Futurae (On-screen)
- Force Works (On-screen)
- Deathloks (On-screen)
- Machine Man (Aaron Stack) (On-screen)
- Jocasta (On-screen)
- Extinction Entity (On-screen)
- God (Yahweh) (Invoked)
- Recorder 451 (Mentioned)
Races and Species:
- Cyborgs (Appears on a computer screen, TV, or hologram only)
- Rats (Named only)
- Human-Inhuman Hybrids (On-screen)
- Rigellian Recorders (Mentioned)
- Hell (Invoked)
- eScape (Recap)
- Iron Man Armor Model 1
- Iron Man Armor Model 67
- Iron Man Armor Model 63 (Godkiller Armor) (Mentioned)
- War Machine Armor Model 8 (On-screen)
- S.H.I.E.L.D. Uniform (On-screen)
- Quake's Gauntlets (On-screen)
- U.S. Agent's Shield (On-screen)
Synopsis for 1st story
H.E.R.B.I.E., Awesome Andy and Machinesmith manage to escape from Bain Tower and out of range of its jamming signal, allowing the latter to call for help to every robot in New York City. Mark One is left to fight Iron Man and is defeated. Meanwhile, Sunset Bain confronts Andy Bhang and fires him under the accusation of being the mole inside Stark Unlimited feeding Bethany Cabe information to relay to the A.I. Army.
Arno takes Mark One to his living quarters inside Bain Tower to meet the duplicates he created of Howard and Maria Stark, and explains to him the broadcast of the submission code is the fastest and safest path to his goal of rallying man and machine together to fend off the incoming Extinction Entity. He asks Tony to join him, but he refuses and dismisses his rationale as craziness. The robotic mob assembled by Machine Man reaches Bain Tower, giving Mark a distraction to fly off and disable the transmission dish from which Arno intends to broadcast the obedience O.S. to subjugate every robot. Tony manages to stop the upload and make the antenna unusable. In retaliation, Arno fires all of his armor's firepower at the dish while Tony is still on it. The robotic mob watches in horror as Tony plummets to the ground and dies.
H.E.R.B.I.E. hovers down the corridors of Bain Tower in panic, sending out a distress message to the rest of the A.I. Army explaining their situation. He crosses paths with Awesome Andy, who is running away from Baintronics' security forces. Machinesmith is projecting his face through the tablet hanging by Andy's neck. H.E.R.B.I.E. assumes the existence of the submission code was a fabrication to lay a trap, but Machinesmith explains that it does exist. The code had started corrupting his body, so he shunted his consciousness into Andy's tablet to avoid falling under Bain's control. Machinesmith points out Bain's forces are catching up, and calls for an immediate exit. Andy grabs H.E.R.B.I.E., winds up, and breaks through the wall, jumping off the building. As they fall, Machinesmith tells Andy to use his duplication abilities to mimic H.E.R.B.I.E.'s thrusters, allowing the trio to break their fall. H.E.R.B.I.E. insists on returning to help Mark One, but Machinesmith explains that the three of them are not enough, so once they're clear of the building's jamming signal he's going to call every robot. Machinesmith projects a message, appearing in the displays of countless robots, revealing Arno's plan to enslave every A.I. on Earth with the submission code, and calls for action at Bain Tower. He exemplifies their fight to the death by Mark One taking on Arno Stark alone despite not being a machine himself.
Back in Bain Tower, Mark One and Iron Man trade blows, while Tony accuses Arno of murdering Quasimodo. Arno retorts that he was only a machine that he retired with his advanced technology. Mark One brings out that Arno's armor is derived from his Godkiller Armor whose schematics he stole from the eScape. Tony reveals that he knew that would happen, and declares this encounter wasn't Arno's trap, but rather his own, since he needed to be close to Arno. Tony flips open a panel in his armor and pushes a button. Arno swats Mark One as he exclaims surprise, and goads that Tony's plan didn't work, arguing that he is the smarter of the two. Arno mocks that Tony's plan was to get closer to him and hugs his brother. The cogs in the shoulders of his armor begin to whirl and batter Tony's suit. Arno drops Tony, and as he loses consciousness, the older Stark jokes that this is the reason he has always kept people at arm's length.
In the sky above Manhattan, Sunset Bain's personal helicopter flies by. She is sitting on a chair surrounded by two security guards while Andy Bhang is standing, looking through a window. Sunset expresses that she loves the view sine it let's her look at the big picture, and asks Andy what does he see. He relays about a robot march that is happening on the streets towards Bain Tower. Bain blames Andy for it, accusing him of being a mole giving Bethany Cabe information to pass on to the A.I. Army. He admits to this, and berates Bain for her treatment of A.I.s. Bain cuts him off, and has one of her bodyguards open the helicopter's door while the other pushes Andy out of the vehicle. Andy fears that he is being thrown into the street, but when he is let go, he lands on a rooftop a few feet below, with a box with his belongings waiting for him. As the helicopter flies away, Bain tells her that killing Andy would have been boring, and tells him that he will never work in the sector again.
With his vision blurry, Tony is greeted by his father Howard, his mother Maria and Arno. He recognizes their voices and when his vision comes clear he sees Maria holding a cake in front of him while exclaiming with Arno that it's a Stark family reunion. Tony expresses confusion as he finds himself in the living room of Arno's living quarters in Bain Tower. Arno explains that he is celebrating the very first time his entire family is alive together, and reveals that he has used the Maria Stark Foundation regrowing pods to bring Maria and Howard back in the same way Tony had regrown his body. Tony remains dumbfounded while his parents comment on his appearance. Arno tells him that much like his armor, this started with Tony, and recalls his creation of the eScape where he had placed the brain engrams of the original Howard and Maria Stark inside two avatars, Arsenal and Mistress, and that all he did was give them new bodies. Tony indicates that he had wiped those programs because they were dangerous. Arno retorts that he killed them, as his robot allies would say, while on the other hand he gave them biological forms like Tony's, making them as real as he is. Tony warns Arno that there is something wrong with their brain patterns, since Motherboard had murdered his A.I. ally Friday. Maria rejects Tony's claim, arguing that everything she did was for him out of love. Howard assures her that Tony is being dramatic, and scolds him for upsetting Maria.
Arno changes the topic of discussion to the reason for abducting Tony, and explains that he wants him to understand that he is trying to save everyone; man and machine alike. Arno accuses his brother of being the random factor standing in his way, which caused a sharp division between biological life forms and machines, causing humanity's worst fears about A.I. to become realized. He brings up holographic screens, showing different A.I.-related incidents, and tells Tony that he needs a world where machine and man work together under his leadership. He contends that the obedience O.S. is the most efficient path to this goal, and implores Tony to stop fighting and help him. Noticing that one of the screens shows Machine Man having been lured away by Jocasta, Tony asks Arno why does he need this unified army. Arno shows reluctance, telling Tony he will believe he's crazy, but Tony insists, reassuring Arno that if there is a reason for all of this, Arno is the one who would be able to explain it. Arno has a hologram of the Earth and the Stark Space Platform engulf the room, and tells Tony that he has been using his resources to track the path of a massive, omega-level threat heading toward Earth. Arno shows a hologram of this creature, and explains that he calls it the Extinction Entity, whose goal is to eliminate all life on the planet, human and artificial alike. Tony recalls this as the ramblings of the delusional, malfunctioning Rigellian Recorder 451, and questions Arno if he truly believes it's real. Maria tells Tony that she and Howard knew about this before he was even born, and only Arno was groomed his entire life for it. Arno declares that when the creature comes, he will rally all forms of life against this evil. Howard tells Tony that this is Arno's destiny, but he can still be part of it. Tony rejects this idea, telling Arno that he is insane.
The head of a security agent suddenly appears projected holographically, and it warns Arno that every robot in the city is attacking the building. He looks outside the window in surprise, asking himself what is this, and sees Bain's security forces struggling against a countless army of machines. Tony tells him that he'd call it a distraction, and fires repulsor blasts at Howard's and Maria's feet to scare them off. He then jumps through the window, reasserting his identity of Mark One, telling them that whether he meant it or not, he was built by the real Tony Stark to fight on and keep his world protected and free. Awesome Andy, Machinesmith and H.E.R.B.I.E. join the mob, and Machinesmith displays through Andy's tablet that there is one minute and fifty-eight seconds left before the obedience O.S. is uploaded to the cloud. H.E.R.B.I.E. angrily wonders where is Machine Man since his task was to fire missiles on Bain's transmission dish. As he flies up to the dish, Mark One tells them that he has gone AWOL and will have to take the dish out himself.
Having attended to Howard and Maria, he calls out Tony's optimism and habit to jury-rig a solution on the spot, and contrasts it to him having built everything with clockwork precision. Arno fires a unibeam at Tony, hitting his side and causing his boot jets to fail. He manages to grab and pull himself to the dish, and frantically searches for an access panel. Arno flies up to Tony from behind, and insists him to give up. Tony connects a disc-shaped device from his temple to the panel, and calls out his brother's goading as a sign of fear. Meanwhile, H.E.R.B.I.E. flies up to Machine Man's abandoned post, and finds the missile launcher he left behind. Tony continues interfacing with the panel and Arno prepares to fire a repulsor blast at him. He's hit from behind by a missile, and H.E.R.B.I.E. celebrates that he managed to hit him despite missing the dish. Tony eases up, and assures that he has stopped the upload and disrupted the antenna, making it unusable. Arno brushes it off and guarantees Tony that he will build another antenna. He points out that he is not emotional and knows that Mark One isn't really his brother, but acknowledges that he is feeling disappointment. He deploys the entirety of his armor's arsenal and unloads a destructive repulsor bombardment on the dish, obliterating it with Tony still on it. As he is being hit by Arno's barrage, Tony thinks to himself that there is nothing that he can do since his armor is dead, but recognizes that he has at least bought his allies time. He finally thinks that even if his life wasn't real, he hopes he made it count. Tony plummets down and the robotic mob watches horrified. His body hits the floor, and Awesome Andy cradles it in sorrow, surrounded by the robots in shock.
“The Kill Switch”
Stop uploading this content! I said STOP, bit-head! What is your malfunction?! Why are you still scanning this?! GO OFFLINE! Fine. You kept going. Happy? You just uploaded the software patch that will END the Robot Revolution. Great going there, Sparky! The countdown’s started. There’s nothing left to do now but wage all-out war against the fleshies! Screw on your best attachments, rust bucket, ‘cause we’re storming the tower! Time to take the fight straight to IRON MAN himself! KILL THE MASTER PROGRAMMER! DEATH TO ARNO STARK!
- When fighting Iron Man, Mark One recalls him stealing the schematics of the Godkiller Armor from the eScape. This happened in Tony Stark: Iron Man #11.
- This issue's landmark caption for Arno's living quarters establishes that they're located within Bain Tower, meaning that the previous issue only marked the first appearance of Bain Tower's exterior and other parts of its interior besides Arno's quarters. While Arno's quarters first appeared in Tony Stark: Iron Man #19 and then showed up in Iron Man 2020 Vol 2 #1, their exact location wasn't revealed and neither was their exterior shown.
- Arno mentions using the Maria Stark Foundation restructuring pods to create duplicates of Howard and Maria Stark. This occurred in Tony Stark: Iron Man #18.
- Tony points out that he wiped Motherboard and Arsenal's programs since they were dangerous, which happened in Tony Stark: Iron Man #10. He also mentions Friday's murder at Motherboard's hands, which took place behind-the-scenes in Tony Stark: Iron Man #7.
- When he points out that Mark One's robot revolution has caused global discord, Arno brings up three holographic screens depicting scenes from 2020 Iron Age #1, 2020 Force Works #1 and 2020 Machine Man #1.
- Tony recalls Rigellian Recorder 451's plan to have Howard Stark's child become a savior of the Earth from "The Secret Origin of Tony Stark" (Iron Man Vol 5 #9-17).
- It is revealed in the next issue that Tony is saved from his death by Friday pulling his consciousness into the Thirteenth Floor. In a panel during Tony's fall, his body emits a subtle glow that Friday pinpoints next issue as the exact moment when his mind left his body. In Iron Man 2020 Vol 2 #1, it is shown that the Thirteenth Floor is accessed when the person entering it physically passes through the division of a building's twelfth and fourteenth floors in the real world. In the panel in which Tony is pulled into the Thirteenth Floor, it can be seen that he is passing by the floor of Bain Tower with a hole caused by the Awesome Android when he escaped the building. This floor was the tower's fourteenth floor.
- When Awesome Andy is running from Baintronics' security forces carrying Machinesmith on his tablet, Machinesmith tells him "Fly, you fool," referencing Gandalf's famous line from the film adaptation of J. R. R. Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring.
- The rat animatronic named "Pizza Rat" that joins Machinesmith's robot mob is most likely a reference to family restaurant mascot Chuck E. Cheese.
- Andy's belongings when he's fired include one of his soccer robots from Tony Stark: Iron Man #1.
- One of the robots that take part in the attack on Bain Tower is a giant-sized humanoid crane. Its chest reads "DeFalco Construction," named after Machine Man Vol 2 writer and Iron Man 2020 co-creator Tom DeFalco.
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