Appearing in 1st story
- Mole Man (Harvey Elder) (Mentioned)
- Dontelle (Stark's former event coordinator) (Behind the scenes)
- Jefferson Morales (Mentioned)
- Aaron Davis (Mentioned)
- Avengers (Mentioned)
- Bombshell (Lana Baumgartner) (Referenced)
- The Wizard (Bantley Wittman) (Referenced)
- Mad Thinker (Julius) (Referenced)
- Egghead (Elihas Starr) (Referenced)
- Nova (Rich Rider) (Referenced)
- Punisher (Frank Castle) (Mentioned)
- God (Yahweh) (Referenced)
- B.O.S.S. (Voice)
- Ho Yinsen (Referenced) (Deceased)
- Wong-Chu (Referenced)
Races and Species:
- Hell (Invoked)
- Spider-Man's Suit and Web-Shooters
- Iron Man Armor Model 70
- Cats (Mentioned) (Topical Reference)
- Seinfeld (Mentioned) (Topical Reference)
- Sex and the City (Mentioned) (Topical Reference)
- F•R•I•E•N•D•S (Mentioned) (Topical Reference)
- Wild/Hunt Drones (First appearance)
- Space Stone
Synopsis for 1st story
In Brooklyn, Iron Man and Spider-Man (Miles Morales) face an invasion of Moloids. As soon as they discover the invaders are a generation of Moloids nurtured by New York pop culture, Iron Man arranges to provide the misguided creatures a city tour. While hanging out, Miles confides in Tony about his kidnapping by the Assessor, who experimented on Miles relentlessly. Tony is deeply moved, and sets out to find the Assessor to enact revenge for Miles. Arriving at the NYPD Exotic Materials Impound where one of the Assessor's thrashed drones had been impounded, Iron Man tracks down the source of its command channel to the Assessor's new base in Brooklyn. Iron Man storms into the building and defeats the Assessor's soldiers without effort until he is confronted by Quantum, the Assessor's teleporting operative.
Quantum abducts Iron Man so that the Assessor can run trials on him. Tony quickly proves intractable when he uses a missile to blow an exit hole in a doorless room. After discreetly deploying robotic spiders to infiltrate the building's systems, Tony is trapped in a wind tunnel where he is shot at by lasers. Iron Man takes advantage of the strong current by deploying micro-munitions, which are blown by the winds into the second end of the tunnel, blowing an exit hole. Iron Man is then put through several trials that test his armor's mettle, and he goes through them as a means to get closer to the Assessor. Throughout the trials, Tony draws parallels between the Assessor's operations and his own capture by Wong-Chu. Tony reflects that he deserved to be kidnapped, unlike Miles, who Tony considers to be a good person who doesn't have what it takes to destroy the Assessor, unlike himself. After emerging victorious from every trial, Tony breaches into the Assessor's command center. Quantum begins to use his teleporting powers to beat up Tony until his suit pairs itself with Quantum's teleport signature, locking him out of using his powers. Tony knocks out Quantum with a repulsor ray and confronts the Assessor. Having deduced that the villain is an A.I., Tony used the robotic spiders to inject a virus on his systems that prevent him from broadcasting his persona to safety away from his body. After being smacked down by Iron Man, the Assessor screams in terror as Tony prepares to force his consciousness into his armor's systems as a means to capture him.
Some time later, Quantum teleports into a different facility, where the Assessor reforms from a backup. As Quantum peels off the layer of blue fabric covering his body in agony, revealing the Space Stone lodged in the hole in his chest, the Assessor stresses that he will honor his contractual obligation to remove Quantum's energy source from his body, which he hasn't identified, but not yet.
As he thinks to himself that he hadn't been to Brooklyn in a while, Iron Man stands back-to-back with Spider-Man (Miles Morales) surrounded by a horde of Moloids. The heroes are hesitant about what to do while the invaders clamor, making references to New York pop culture. Spider-Man begins webbing up the Moloids and Iron Man tosses them around as they assess the situation. Stark realizes the Mole Man is nowhere to lead the invasion. When a group of Moloids loots a hot dog stand, Miles notices they don't look like they're invading as much as they're partying. Iron Man decides to grab a Moloid wearing an I Love New York shirt to interrogate him with Miles. The creature reveals that they are a generation of Moloids disillusioned with the Mole Man. They were fed with stories of invading New York but never had the chance to do so, and instead watched television, growing attached to the excitement shown in the shows. Realizing that the Moloids are essentially tourists, Tony states that he's going to call the big guns. When Spider-Man objects, Tony clarifies that who he is calling is former client relations and event coordinator. Tony calls this woman, Dontelle, and asks her to bring as many food trucks as possible and then to get into contact with a bus tour operator.
Some time later, some of the Moloids are still feasting on the gathering of food trucks whilst others are preparing to board a tour bus, holding tourist paraphernalia like a camera, a selfie stick and a map. Miles questions Tony about throwing money at a problem until it goes away. The two heroes are hanging out in a rooftop nearby eating sushi. Tony tells him that he does that if possible, since it gives him more time to deal with the problems where you can't do that. When Miles comments that he has enough of those, Tony inquires about them. Becoming somber, Miles tells Tony about his capture at the hands of the Assessor, who relentlessly experimented on Miles and threatened his family, and sheds a tear. Miles explains that his father Jefferson and his uncle Aaron saved him, but since the villain escaped, he worries he's still out there. Tony asks Miles to tell him more, and the young hero warns him that the Assessor has a crew and some kind of teleporting accomplice. Tony asks Miles if Aaron is staying clean, and he humorously asks if he looks like a snitch.
Later, Iron Man lands on the NYPD Exotic Materials Impound while he recalls that Miles told him the Assessor uses drones as part of his tests, and that he and Bombshell had trashed one of them before being kidnapped. Tony makes his way through the impound thinking that while people like the Assessor think they're smart and their technology is good, he is smarter and his technology is better. Inside a warehouse, Tony takes the cover off the destroyed drone. Thinking to himself that modesty isn't his strong suit, Tony points out that his strong suit is literally an unstoppable armor and he has realized it's time he reminded people of that. Two cables extend from the retracted plates of Tony's gauntlets and prod the drone. In his thoughts, Tony relates to Miles' experience, having once been kidnapped as well. However, Tony points out that while he was an adult, Miles is a kid. After Tony's armor finishes analyzing the drone, he takes off. Tony flies through the city and explains that he scanned the drone's transmitter and managed to track down the source of the command channel the Assessor used to control it. Tony notices that whilst the Assessor moved their operation after Miles escaped, he is still in Brooklyn. Recalling how Nova used to be called "the Human Rocket," Tony crashes into a building thinking himself the "human cruise missile." As he admits to himself that this situation has peeved him, Iron Man thrashes an office with the mere impact of his landing and calls out the Assessor. A group of armed goons storm into the office and fire at Tony, but the bullets only ricochet off his suit. Stark fires a wide-dispersal fan beam that knocks all the guards out and walks away. Acknowledging his bravado to himself, Tony points out that he has called in a cohort of Wild/Hunt Drones stationed outside to tag anyone leaving the building for arrest later. As for the Assessor, Stark expects him not to run away since he wouldn't want to miss the chance to try out their tests on Iron Man. Walking down the building, Tony encounters a trio of guards who set up a massive gun. Asking sarcastically if they don't know he's Iron Man, Stark knocks them out, blasting a hole through the building. Hearing a teleporting sound, Iron Man expresses satisfaction when he is faced by Quantum, the Assessor's teleporting operative. As Tony tries to get him to talk, Quantum remains silent and upright. Quantum lunges his arm at a portal, and Iron Man is knocked back. Noticing that Quantum has somehow teleported his fist into his helmet to connect the blow, Tony recoils from the punch and fires at Quantum, but the villain teleports behind Tony. While Tony thinks to himself that he has lost his momentum and therefore lost the edge, Quantum grabs him and teleports him away.
Iron Man is taken by Quantum to a black void strewn with giant white tiles, some of which transmit a video feed of the Assessor. Referring to Iron Man as "Subject 045-02," the villain announces the beginning of the provisional trials for him. Tony is offended when the Assessor clarifies that Subject 045-02 refers to Tony's armor, which is their primary interest, whereas Tony is relegated to being Subject 045-02B. Tony commends the Assessor's "room without doors" set up, but points out that anything can be a door if you know how to knock. Deploying a missile from his forearm, Iron Man blasts the Assessor's main screen, and exits the room. With his armor unable to pin down his location, Tony marches forward. Acting on a hunch, Tony discreetly deploys two robotic spiders from a cavity in his suit's gauntlet, named Heckle and Jeckle. Over a PA system, the Assessor declares the trials will continue with adjusted parameters to account for Stark's intractable nature. A giant turbine suddenly appears in the tunnel where Iron Man is walking, and the Assessor states it's an aerodynamics test. Tony brushes off the test, overcoming the violent wind using his armor jets and repulsors, but the Assessor activates laser turrets. Having to dodge the fire prevents Tony from reaching the end of the wind tunnel or taking aim at the lasers. Noticing that he isn't equipped with any proper missiles for the situation, Iron Man contemplates that any munition he fires would get blown away by the wind. This gives him the idea to release micro-munitions. They are blown away into the other end of the tunnel, giving Tony an exist after causing an explosion.
A montage shows Tony confronting the Assessor's many subsequent tests. They consist of a confrontation with a giant electric coil; Tony being submerged in water, a fight against drones, Tony being caught in fire, Tony being strangled by wires and Tony falling through some kind of black and white spiral. Throughout all of these tests, Tony thinks to himself that he could probably blast his way out at any time, but that it's dangerous for him and others not to know where he is. As Tony prepares to fight a giant drone, he admits to himself that the real reason he wants to go through these tests is to get close to the Assessor in order to destroy him. Tony is shown emerging victorious from the previous tests, blasting his way out of each predicament or neutralizing the threat. Tony draws parallels between the Assessor's operations and his own kidnapping by Wong-Chu, but finds a contrast in the fact that this isn't happening in a far-off land. Stark thinks about the Assessor taking kids whereas he himself deserved to be in that cave, having made tools to kill people. Tony thinks about Ho Yinsen as a person who didn't deserve to be kidnapped, and compares himself to Wong-Chu, with the difference that Tony used to pretend there was no blood in his hands whilst Wong-Chu didn't lie to himself about being a warlord.
Iron Man is now catching his breath after breaching into the Assessor's command center. The Assessor declares that Tony has demonstrated the capabilities of the armor and announces that he will be now terminated. However, the Assessor says this stuttering. Quantum lunges as Tony and punches into portals, hitting Tony from inside the armor repeatedly. Throughout this fight, Tony ponders about Miles being different than himself. He expresses that Miles is a good kid who will be a good man, but who doesn't have what it takes to burn the Assessor's business to the ground, which is why he is good. Tony thinks to himself that he does, and that burning bunkers is in his foundational trauma and it's what he does. After Quantum delivers a final kick, Tony's armor announces a quantum lock is complete and that he is paired to Quantum's teleport signature. Tony snickers as Quantum attempts to teleport but realizes he is still in place. Iron Man explains that he used quantum entanglement to pair himself with Quantum for 180 seconds, and fires a powerful repulsor ray that sends him flying across the room and into the Assessor's screens. Iron Man walks up to the Assessor and asks the villain how is he feeling. The Assessor stutters that the data is inconsistent and asks why. With one of the robotic spiders rests on Iron Man's fingers, Tony explains that he had deduced that the Assessor is an A.I. hard-linked to the facility to process the data, and reveals the robotic spiders infiltrated the building's infrastructure with a viral strike. Tony grabs the Assessor by the neck and taunts him telling him to try to broadcast their persona to safety away from their body. When the Assessor expresses in terror that it's "impossible" and "inconceivable," Stark tells him that he's wrong; it's "invincible." Tony throws the Assessor into the ground and declares them his prisoner. The villain screams as Tony prepares to download their consciousness into his system.
Later, Quantum teleports into a different facility. Behind him, a new construct body of the Assessor regenerates from a backup, declaring the losses at the Brooklyn facility to be unacceptable, and expects that this will provide significant setbacks to attaining the expectations of the board. Quantum gesticulates angrily at the Assessor, who interprets Quantum thought the loss of the Assessor's previous form would void their contract, and refutes this assumption. Quantum begins to peel off the layer of blue fabric that covers his body while the Assessor states that the trials of his power source are incomplete. Quantum tears off the torso of his costume in agony, revealing his human body is still affected by the lines of empty space that run across his body and converge on his hollow torso, where the Space Stone is lodged. The Assessor stresses that they will honor their contractual obligation to remove Quantum's energy source from his body, which they haven't identified, but not yet.
Appearing in 2nd story
- U.S. Army Rangers (Referenced)
- Nick Fury, Sr. (Referenced)
- Nia Johnson (Referenced)
- A.I.M. (Referenced)
- Maria Hill (Referenced)
- Unnamed "New Player" (Referenced)
Races and Species:
Synopsis for 2nd story
A montage of Nick Fury Jr.'s different escapades as a spy, blowing up a Hydra facility in Monument Valley, killing a demonic green creature lurking in a forest, and fighting a tentacled monster underwater. Throughout this scene, he thinks to himself how his life changed when he took the name of Nick Fury, and that despite Nick Fury Sr. being his father, everything he learned came from his mother Nia Johnson, whose face Fury has tattooed on his chest. As he sits on his base in front of numerous giant screens, Fury reflects that his mother taught him focus and how to sense patterns. Fury ponders as he notices a new unknown player on the board making ripples, and decides it's his business to investigate.
Escaping from a Hydra facility in Monument Valley aboard a stolen flying vehicle, with enemy fire coming from behind, Nick Fury Jr. thinks to himself that he used to be a ranger for the army, where things were not easy but he knew what to expect, until he took the name Fury. He activates his watch, and the facility blows up, throwing off the enemies coming from behind. Some time later, Fury is walking through a forest. He thinks that everything came down to two things, the world and the life of a spy, and he exists between those two. Looking at a puddle, Fury sees the reflection of a demonic green creature lurking on a tree. The monster lunges at Fury from above, but he quickly turns around and blows its head off. Now Fury is underwater wearing speedos and struggling against an array of tentacles wrapping around his body. He thinks to himself that he barely knew Nick Fury Sr., his father. Nick states that he is good at what he does, but what he learned came from his mother Nia Johnson, whose face Fury has tattooed on his chest. Fury takes a grenade and throws it at the monster's teethed mouth. He recalls that Nia was as good of a spy as his father, but she was also a teacher.
Sitting at a desk in front of ten giant-sized screens, Fury thinks that while there are people who can fight, shoot or drive better than him, he has everything Nia taught him to his advantage, which is focus; to look at the patterns and identify what matters from the noise. He reflects that Nick Fury might have given him his name, but it was his mother who made him Fury. He reviews the movements of different players across the board, like Hydra, A.I.M. or Maria Hill. Fury ponders that he is seeing something new that he doesn't recognize; a new player making dangerous ripples. Staring intensely at the screens, Fury declares that even though he doesn't know who they are or what they're doing, he believes this is going to be Fury business.
"INFINITE DESTINIES" STARTS HERE!
When Iron Man learns about the strange people who kidnapped and tortured Miles Morales, he HAS to look into it. What he finds out about the Assessor and especially Quantum will shock him and you! Don't miss this in-depth look at some of the coolest new villains and the groundwork for major future Marvel stories!
ALSO IN THIS ISSUE: Part 1 (of 8) of "Infinite Fury"! Nick Fury learns of the new incarnation of the Infinity Stones and sets off to find the stone-bearers. His quest will take him all over the Marvel Universe and pit him against some very powerful people who will terrify both Fury and YOU!
- This comic is the 23rd annual issue for Iron Man overall.
- This issue was originally solicited for June 2020, but it and all the annuals that comprised Infinite Destinies were subsequently pushed back a year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Since this annual was originally going to be released before Christopher Cantwell and CAFU's Iron Man (Vol. 6) and the delay pushed its release well into Cantwell's run, it's likely that this issue underwent redraws to accommodate to the different in-universe window of time in which it was released, so that Tony's suit in this issue corresponded to the Model 70 Armor that debuted in Cantwell's run. Before Cantwell's run, Iron Man's default armor was the Extremis Armor. In this issue, the Model 70 is drawn with a faceplate similar to the Extremis Armor as it can be seen here, which is likely a vestige of the issue originally featuring the Extremis Armor.
- Miles Morales mentions having been kidnapped and experimented on by the Assessor. An editor's note cites Miles Morales: Spider-Man #7–8, but the story extends to issue #9. Miles also mentions the Assessor saying he'd go after his family next. While the Assessor did threaten Miles' family, he only threatened to take action against them if Miles didn't participate in his trials to his satisfaction.
- Throughout this issue, Iron Man's helmet is colored inconsistently. In some panels the armor's chin is painted gold and in others it's painted red.
- The Assessor refers to Quantum as "Subject 002-004" in this issue. This is incorrect since Subject 002-004 was Miles Morales' designation when captured by Assessor during Miles Morales: Spider-Man #7–9. In those issues, Quantum is also referred to as Asset Quantum, meaning he is seen as an asset and not a subject.
- In the first panel, the headshot of Iron Man accompanying his narration box is taken from the artwork of Avengers vs. X-Men #1, drawn by John Romita Jr., as it can be seen here.
- The Moloids invading Brooklyn make many references to New York pop culture:
- One of the Moloids says, "New York, New York!," which is probably a reference to "Theme from New York, New York" or the movie it originates from, the 1977 film New York, New York.
- A different Moloid says, "Hey, I'm walking here!," which is a famous line from the 1969 film Midnight Cowboy.
- Other icons of New York pop culture are explicitly called out by the Moloids, including the Broadway musical Cats, the sitcom Seinfeld (with a Moloid also asking for directions to "the Seinfeld diner," which is the diner Tom's Restaurant whose exterior was used as a stand-in for the show's Monk's Café, and another Moloid demanding to see the character Cosmo Kramer), the TV series Sex and the City (with a Moloid also demanding to see one of its protagonists, Carrie Bradshaw), and the sitcom Friends.