Appearing in "Heart of the Matter"
- Stark International (First appearance)
- Pepper Potts (First appearance)
- Hulk (Dr. Bruce Banner)
- Hydra (First appearance)
- Stark International (First appearance)
- Atomic Knights of the Round Table (First appearance; photo)
- God (Yahweh) (Invoked)
- The Devil (Invoked)
Races and Species:
- Prometheum Armor (First full appearance)
Synopsis for "Heart of the Matter"
Some time ago, Tony Stark's best friend Conner "Rebel" O'Reilly is putting Stark's newly designed Prometheum Armor to the test. While out testing the armor, it begins to malfunction, and before Rebel can abort the test the armor explodes killing him instantly.
The present: Tony Stark, now a heartless and ruthless businessman has just been acquitted in a class action suit launched by the people of the State of New York. The results of the court case are protested by the working class who find the verdict unfair. Watching the court trail results are a bunch of security guards that work at Stark International's Buffalo New York plant. One of the employees suddenly loses it and while ranting about revolution and power executes his fellow guards. He then radios in to his masters, the terrorist organization known as Hydra and tells them that they can proceed with Operation: Gamma.
While inside Tony Stark's penthouse, Tony prepares for a big celebration over his recent court victory. Present are fellow scientist Bruce Banner, head of Stark security Liz Ross, public relations officer Happy Hogan, Stark's personal secretary Pepper Potts, his psychiatrist Leonard Samson, his lawyer Jennifer Walters, and government liaison Jasper Sitwell. After they all attempt to convince Stark that holding a celebration of his legal victory is being callow toward, Pepper Potts has enough when Tony gives a smug press speech and she publicly berates his heartless nature and throws her drink in his face before storming off.
While at the Buffalo plant, Madame Hydra personally oversees the breaching of the gamma chamber, a weapon which they intend to use. Back at the party, this breach sets off a security alert for Liz Ross who decides to go and investigate it with Bruce Banner who insists on going as his latest invention -- the gamma bomb -- is located at the Buffalo plant. Tony meets up with Pepper who tries once more to break through his emotionless shell only to be told that she is fired. Leonard enters the room and tries to talk some sense into Tony as well, but to no avail, and when Tony threatens to fire him as well Leonard leaves him alone.
As Liz and Bruce approach the Buffalo plant in a Stark Industries craft, Liz notices something is up when suddenly the guard in the air control tower pulls out a Gatling gun and begins to open fire on them. Liz manages to blow the man away, however Madam Hydra had a stow away on their ship and they are both knocked out by Bruce. While back at Stark's office, Sitwell commends Stark on his behavior and business sense when they are interrupted by another security alert sending Jasper to investigate with Stark following in tow.
Back at the Buffalo plant, it turns out that Bruce agreed to work with Hydra in the hopes that they would dismantle the gamma bomb, a weapon he did not wish to be used. Madam Hydra informs him that they have other plans in mind: to detonate the bomb instead. When Banner attempts to stop her she knocks him out and locks him up inside the bomb itself. When Liz revives sometime later she finds Bruce locked inside and the failsafes for the bomb deactivated. Blaming himself for what has happened, Bruce does the only thing he can think of: lower the gamma bomb down the silo in order to lesson the blast as much as possible. The bomb goes off, causing a massive explosion down below and bombarding Liz with gamma radiation.
When Tony and Jasper arrive they find a gigantic green glowing crated in the middle of the space where the plant is located. Before they can land a gigantic green monster emerges from the crater. Calling itself the Hulk, the monster throws a large rock at their helicopter causing to crash before fleeing off into the night. Stark drags Sitwell out of the ship, both are injured however Tony realizes he has a piece of shrapnel lodged into his heart that will kill him soon if he doesn't get help. The two decide to go into the complex anyway and split up to look for Bruce and Liz. Tony enters the room where the Prometheum Armor has been kept all this time and debates using it's life support systems to sustain his life even if the device is at risk of killing them all. While elsewhere in the complex Sitwell comes across Liz alive and well but in the clutches of the Hulk. Just then the Prometheum Armored Stark arrives demanding the Hulk to let her go. Hulk, dubbing Stark "Iron Man", to leave him alone or be smashed.
This story is continued next issue...
Characters in this story also appear in other stories between this issue. The affected characters are:
Iron Man (Tony Stark)